Two sisters' reviews of Young Adult and Middle Grade books, inspired by their lovely library.
I enjoyed the combination of murder mystery into the historical setting, although the threat of a murderer running loose around the city seemed to have been put second by the author to main character Cassandra’s new found love in a poor but very attractive artist.
Series: Secrets of The Eternal Rose, Book 1
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Murder Mystery, Romance
Rating: 3 Stars
Cassandra Caravello is one of Renaissance Venice’s lucky elite: with elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, her own lady’s maid, and a wealthy fiancé, she has everything a girl could desire. Yet ever since her parents’ death, Cassandra has felt trapped, alone in a city of water, where the dark and labyrinthine canals whisper of escape.
When Cass stumbles upon a murdered woman—practically in her own backyard—she’s drawn into a dangerous world of courtesans, killers, and secret societies. Soon, she finds herself falling for Falco, a mysterious artist with a mischievous grin… and a spectacular skill for trouble. Can Cassandra find the murderer, before he finds her? And will she stay true to her fiancé, or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for Falco?
Beauty, love, romance, and mystery weave together in a stunning novel that’s as seductive and surprising as the city of Venice itself.
This book is unlike any other historical fiction book I have read. First of all, Venice is a far less popular setting than London or Paris, and the romance in young adult books is rarely so adult-themed. I enjoyed the combination of murder mystery into the historical setting, although the threat of a murderer running loose around the city seemed to have been put second by the author to main character Cassandra’s new found love in a poor but very attractive artist.
The focus in Venom is the romance, and the choice between what is right for Cass’s future life and what feels right to her inside. I felt uncomfortable with the amount of adult content in this book, including a visit to a brothel, the many inappropriate comments made by various characters, and Cass’s own romantic dreams. Although the writing style is clearly young adult level, the romantic content did not match it.
My biggest issue with this book, however, was that I found it very hard to like Falco, Cass’s love interest and could not understand if her “feelings” towards him were true or if she had just fallen for his charm because the sense of forbidden adventure he offered appealed to her. I strongly hope that by the end of the series, it is Luca, her handsome and not at all unkind fiancé, that she ends up with.
I did enjoy the vivid descriptions of historical Venice, and the author’s writing style, which was very descriptive and detailed, but I found it unnecessarily very repetitive as well. For example, Cass’s auburn hair was always escaping its bun, her stays were always so tight that she felt like she couldn’t breathe, and she was always teetering on her chopines. By the first fifty pages, you have already heard these descriptions repeated many times.
In writing a book review it is often easier to describe what you did not like, but there was something in this book that encouraged me to continue reading till the end. The mysteries in this book, both about various characters’ true motives, the murder’s identity, and the outcomes of her romance were well written to keep the reader wondering. I am planning on reading the second book, Belladonna, and possibly the third, Starling, when it is published in 2014, to learn more about the secrets of Falco, Luca, and the Eternal Rose.
Although this book fell short of my high expectations, I would recommend it to lovers of forbidden romance, intrigue, mystery, and a hint of paranormal fantasy.