I really hate it when I run into a book with lots of potential and great writing technique, but it fails to grab my attention. I always try to give the book another chance because I always feel like I’ve let the author/book down by not. The thing is, sometimes, a book just doesn’t work for you and no matter how many chances you give it, it’s not going to get any better. Venom by Fiona Paul, is one of these books. While I found the writing really good, I just couldn’t finish it.
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.
Fiona Paul has a great ‘voice’ in her writing. She’s very descriptive but it doesn’t bog down the story line. She has a knack for showing you vs. telling you that really draws you in. I loved the way she writes and I really, really wanted to see where Venom was going, but things began to unravel quickly from page one.
The main character Cass is described as impulsive, but… and I so hate to use this word… stupid is more like it. At one point, Cass hears a strange noise coming from a cemetery next door to her villa. Seconds later she decides she must write in her journal, while sitting in the darkened cemetery. Once inside, and being scared of every shadow I might add, she finds a girl who was just murdered. This reminded me of a comedian I saw years ago who did a skit about horror movies and how ridiculously stupid some of the characters are. There’s always this girl who goes into a dark, creepy house with a killer on the loose and says ‘I’m going to get naked and take a shower…wait what’s going on’ as the killer appears with his bloody ax. It’s situations like that, that make no plausible sense, to me.
I decided to forge on, even though this whole scene plays out in the same direction, and all is very predictable in that ‘hollywood horror story’ way. But then it happened again just a few pages later, where she gets what appears to be a threatening note and decides she must go back to the cemetery to find clues for the murder. A girl of 16 or so, with a killer on a loose, decides she must find clues, in the dark, in the cemetery, where she found a girl who was murdered. I just couldn’t go on any farther.
For the descriptions and story building, I like Ms. Paul’s writing technique. But as far as the plot and the things that happen, it’s not my cup of tea. While I wouldn’t recommend Venom, if you can overlook these kinds of scenes then give it try. The writing, minus the predictable and oddly ridiculous things Cass does, is really good.