Venom by Fiona Paul (ARC Review)

Release date: 1 December 2012

Publisher: HarperCollins Australia

Number of pages: 448

My rating: 2/5

Venom was a read that I was highly anticipating. I constantly read and re-read the synopsis, praying for the release date to come faster. However, when I finally did read this book, it disappointed me on so many levels. It wasn’t the worst, but it was far from the best.

Venom is about one of Venice’s elite, Cassandra. The story is set perhaps a few centuries ago, but the actual time frame is never mentioned. After stumbling on a murdered, mutated girl in her friend’s tomb, she discovers a dark side of Venice. She is joined by a stranger and artist, Falco, who tries to help her get to the bottom of these murders.

As you can probably guess, Falco and Cassandra quickly fall in love. This romance was far from enjoyable, and formed very quickly. It definitely wasn’t a very fleshed out romance. At the time of falling in love, Cassandra knows nothing about Falco. Gosh, she doesn’t even find out about his occupation and his family until the end. Also, she is already engaged to another man. Nice going, Cass.

None of the characters in this book were interested or well developed. Cassandra barely had any personality at all, and was an empty shell of a character. She was very clueless and gullible, instantly trusting Falco, a complete stranger. Cassandra’s aunt, Agnese was shown to be a bossy, strict old lady. Madalena, Cassandra’s best friend was rich and shallow, showing no personality or depth at all. I felt that some of the characters were also a bit modern. Falco once mentions that he does not believe in religion, only science. I haven’t done any research on ancient Venice, but I’m pretty sure that everyone was incredibly religious back then. People carry crucifixes, make the sign of the cross, and believe in Satanists and vampires. I find it hard to believe that one person can just fully dismiss all religion.

I have no idea what Cassandra saw in Falco. Falco made many appearances in Venom. He was known to hang out at graveyards, know many dodgy people, and visit brothels. Falco was the second worst character in this book (after Cassandra). We hardly get to know him at all, despite his frequent appearances and Cassandra’s obsession over him.

However, despite all the flaws I mentioned above, Cassandra was by far the worst thing in this book. A stupid, shallow, useless, clueless character, she annoyed me constantly. She trusts a suspicious stranger she meets, right at the site when she finds the murdered girl. She obsessed over Falco constantly, and I cringed every time I heard her speak. Her cluelessness shocked me, and I struggle to understand how she could miss so many things.

Most of the book has no substance. In attempts to “solve” the murders and her friend’s corpse’s disappearance, Cassandra and Falco go around Venice, attending parties, balls, going around to dodgy places, and on one occasion, even dressing Cassandra up as a prostitute in an attempt to find information on the murders. I didn’t see why they kept doing this. Almost every night, Cassandra would sneak out with Falco and go to sopme strange place, where they accomplished next to nothing.

Although I did not enjoy this book at all, I believe that it will appeal to many readers, with its mysteriousness, awesome setting, interesting premise and an amazing cover. I will definitely not be reading the next book, as I have no interest in continuing this series.

2/5 stars.

An ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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