Venom by Fiona Paul Book Review

You know you are TOTALLY into a book where you remain in the parking lot of a book store before an event so you can read the last 20 pages of your book before going in and becoming enticed by brand NEW books. Y’all, Venom by Fiona Paul was a book that I unabashedly loved. Look, I’ve seen some negative reviews and you can judge the hell out of me, but I freakin am not ashamed of my LOVE for Venom. For reals, this book is longer than 400 pages but I inhaled it and was caught up in the Venetian setting and oh my god THE DRAMA!

Venom Fiona Paul Book Cover

Venom opens on a rather somber note. Cassandra Caravello is attending the funeral of her young friend. After the funeral, Cassandra goes to the graveyard to say goodbye and that is when she realizes her friend’s body is missing. HOLY CRAP YOU GUYS IT HAS BEEN REPLACED WITH A COURTESAN’S BODY! And so, Cassandra must unravel why the heck another body is there while trying to avoid the crosshairs of the courtesan’s murderer AND ALSO navigate matters of the heart. You see, she’s leading a privileged lifestyle with servants and ball gowns and she’s engaged to this fabulously wealthy, studious guy named Luca who is hanging out in France. Cass meets this artist named Falco by chance, and you guys IT IS INTENSE IN TEN CITIES INTENSE between them.

Straight up, I liked Cassandra and did not find her insufferable at all. Girl has so much on her plate, even though she has fancy dresses, she still has to deal with a murderer. She’s so brave, too. Like, she sneaks out at night behind her aunt’s back. She comes up with excuses so she can investigate the murder. But she’s not that idiot who goes traipsing around dark hallways alone, except for just once but for good reason. Plus, Cassandra is self-sacrificing and as a selfish individual, I can recognize and admire that in a character. Like, there is OBVIOUS attraction and ugh, she can’t act on it because it’ll mess up the lives of those around her AND I JUST CAN’T RIGHT NOW WITH THE EMOTIONS.

If it wasn’t totally weird to clap over random things, I would be clapping my freakin hands off over the setting. Venom takes place in Renaissance era Venice, which makes me want to say YES PLEASE MORE OF THIS SETTING I AM SICK OF ENGLAND AND WANT THE RENAISSANCE ITALY. Can we make this a thing? Where this setting is used more. Like, there are gondolas and canals and art and graveyards and it is vivid and my imagination is all let’s do some cartwheels BECAUSE THIS IS AN AWESOME WORLD TO PICTURE. I really thought Fiona Paul just killed it with the world building and providing a sense of place.

Y’all, Venom is a tall drink of water. I mean, it has a romance that I was actually quite pleased with. I wasn’t like ugh, these silly teens and their silly raging hormones. Instead I was like, RAGE ON HORMONES, RAGE AGAINST THE DYING OF THE LIGHT ahahahaha. As I said above, Cassandra and the poor artist boy Falco have chemistry. And they engage in a fair amount of kissing and I am like OH HEY MORE KISSES THAN MOST BOOKS, DON’T MIND IF I DO. And then there’s a forbidden aspect. And then a potential love triangle that is actually not very annoying. And you guys there are certain pages where if you open up to them, you better get a towel for the steam that comes off the pages. FOR REAL.

If you want to read a book that passes at a glacial pace, then don’t read Venom. If you want to be bored out of your skull, don’t read Venom. However, if you are all about reading books that draw you in from the first page and don’t let you go, even when you are in the inconvenient place of the parking lot THEN read Venom. For reals, it boggles my mind how this book took me pretty much zero hours to read despite being kind of thick compared to 3-4 days for a book that is under 230 pages.

Straight up, I freakin loved Venom and am not afraid to declare my love and my ardor for this book. Y’all, I am chomping at the bit for the sequel, Belladonna and I might as well wave my arms around to further illustrate my excitement. I guess it all boils down to my taste, and you can judge me all you want but Venom rocked my world and was such a fantastic experience and read for me.

Disclosure: Received as a part of the Breathless Reads slipcase that I won from the utterly fabulous and superb Oblong  Books!

Other reviews of Venom by Fiona Paul:

365 Days Of Reading – “Venom has everything I want in a historical novel

Icey Books – “Venomous, dark, and thrilling, Fiona Paul’s VENOM is a must-read.

The Housework Can Wait – “Much as I really wanted to love this book, I didn’t

FYI you can order VENOM from OBLONG BOOKS by clicking this link right here.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I’m really glad you liked it! As I said in my review, I think it was beautifully written and the setting was gorgeous, so it makes me happy that there are so many people out there who really loved it, even though I am not one of them. Beautiful books should be loved. Great review!

    • I always find it fascinating how different people experience and perceive books, I mean we had such a different experience — I loved it and you did not. Alas, I hope the next book you read, you love.

  2. I love your flailing review for Venom! It was one of my absolute favorite books in 2012. Just, so amazing. The setting was perfect, the characters were perfect, the love story… *sigh* perfect. Glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

    ~Sara @ Forever 17 Books

    • If I didn’t type this review up in my office, I totally would have been flailing in real life, but instead I had to settle for flailing through my words.\

      I am glad I am not alone with a love of how VENOM played out!

      Thanks for commenting, Sara!

  3. Wait, let me get this right? This book may be fast paced? LOL!

    What a fantastic review!! But really, the body has been exchanged?!? HOLY CRAP! I need to read this! NEED!

    -Jac @ For Love and Books

    • Hahaha yes, I thought Venom was very fast paced. It’s thick but I whipped through it very quickly.

      YES YES, the body has been exchanged for that of a hooker and the reason why is NUTS.

  4. Love this review! I just might have to make this one next week’s read – good characters, an awesome setting, a non-annoying love triangle, and an exchanged body? Sounds pretty great to me!

  5. Yay! Thanks for the lovely review 🙂 Have you read My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century by Rachel Harris? Renaissance Florence is almost as cool as Renaissance Venice!

  6. I haven’t really seen any bad reviews for this one. I have seen a little buzz about it, people saying it was good, but I guess if I actually had time to read reviews lately I would have seen some. lol. I blame Fall Tv.

    I think I would really like this one based off the setting. Brian and I went away to Vegas one year on our anniversary and stayed at the Venetian. It was so neat. The shops are all set up like the streets of Venice, and there are canals and those boat thingers people can ride. (I know you are probably rolling your eyes at “boat thingers”, but I’m too lazy to google the proper word. lol)

    Though the setting sounds awesome, I think the drama will be my fav. And the kissing. Gotta love kising. <3

    Love this review. Your excitement about this book is contagious. 🙂

    • See, I’ve seen a few bad reviews, so that’s why I mentioned it. ALSO I get irrationally worried that people will think I am a weirdo for liking a book that other people don’t like.

      The setting is utterly fabulous. ALSO I want to go to Vegas and stay at the Venetian, that sounds awesome and omg gondolas that is what they are called.

      Haha, I am glad that my excitement is the only thing that is contagious about me LOLOLOLOLOLOL.

  7. You’ve made me extremely excited to start this one soon! The setting was what made me want to read it in the first place, and I’m really glad you thought it was well-done. I love how your enthusiasm comes across SO CLEARLY in your review, and I cannot wait!!

  8. I really want to read this one. The cover is gorgeous and the synopsis sounds wonderful.

    Great review. 🙂

  9. Oooh, yay! I’m so glad one of the Breathless reads was awesome! I’ve read two of them (Origin & Black City) and was not impressed, and I’ve heard really disappointing things about all the others. Venom has been very love it or hate it, I think. I really hope that I’ll enjoy it as much as you!

    Also, I love that INTENSE description of INTENSENESS. As well as this, which may be my new favorite quote ever: RAGE ON HORMONES, RAGE AGAINST THE DYING OF THE LIGHT.

    • Yeah, I wasn’t too terribly impressed over Origin and Black City as well. For me, obvi Venom was a very love, but I have seen other blogs where it is a very hate it.

      LOL, yes, sometimes it’s hard to nail the intenseness, but I tried.

      ALSO I think we do not rage enough against the dying of the light, thus that needs to be used much more hahahahahah.

  10. I am so excited by your review! I’ve been dying to know your thoughts. I know you weren’t a fan of most of the Breathless reads (this is one of them right? if not, HAHA JUST KIDDING) but I really want to read this one so I was hoping it didn’t suck.

    Venice is one of my MOST FAVORITE settings. Ahhhhh I love reading books set there. Hearing how great it was described makes me want to wave my arms around right along with you.

    • Yes, this is a Breathless Read, and definitely the one I liked the most. I am meh, kanyeshrug about the other four.

      I love books set in Venice as well and I was thinking about the other Venice book I read while reading this — Cross My Heart by Sasha Gould, if you haven’t read that one yet, I recommend it.

      Wave your arms away, it’s okay!

  11. I’ve read quite a few negative reviews but the premise still sounds SO promising. I’m really happy to see someone who is SO engaged and in love with this book. It’s still sitting high on my TBR list and I think your review has just given me more enthusiasm to pick it up, like STAT. Great job, lady!

    • See, the premise really hooked me and I was incredibly engaged by Venom. I am not sure if this is THE book for everyone, but it was the book for me. I hope you do pick it up stat and fall for it like I did.

      Thank you for the compliment, Nikki!

  12. Awesome review! I have had my eye on Venom b/c it seemed like a book I’d like with it taking place in Venice (love!), historical and a bit of romance. I’m glad you liked it; I’ll definitely be picking it up now! And I’m also relieved the possible love triangle isn’t annoying–that’s always good to hear!

    • Those elements really kicked up Venom a notch for me — the setting, the history, and the romance. I hope you like it when you read it. Also, maybe I am weird, but I did not mind the triangle at all. It really explores the constraints Cassandra has on her.

  13. I’ve seen this book before but for whatever reason, I just kept passing it over. Now that I’ve read your review.. it’s definitely going on my TBR list!! Awesome review 🙂

  14. OK. So I’ve read/heard some not-so good things about Venom and since the blurb didn’t grab me, I haven’t been paying attention to it. But after your glowing review full of CAPS and excitement, you’ve *really* intrigued me. Yay! I’m so glad you loved it as much as you did and let’s hope the wait for book two isn’t too far for a major fan like you. As always, stunning review!

    • Ahahahaha yes, CAPSLOCK always intrigues me too. I mean, the thing is, I hope if you end up hating it, you don’t blame me. But that said, I am hoping you love it.

      Thanks for your kind words about my review 🙂

  15. This book sounds AWESOME! I am definitely adding it to my TBR list. I love books that are set in Europe, and I don’t think I have ever read one set in Italy. I really enjoyed your review and how passionate you are about this book. Makes me want to go buy it!

    • This book IS awesome. Also, like you, I need more books set in Italy. I think when I really feel something strong for a book, it comes out in my reviews and I wish I could feel that way about everything I read. Alas.

      Hope you enjoy when you read it!

  16. I’ve been eyeballing this one for a long time. I love the cover and Venice? Yes please! Glad to hear it’s THAT GOOD.


  1. […] April’s Review: “Venom rocked my world and was such a fantastic experience and read for me.“ […]

  2. […] I wrote in my review of Venom that I was chomping at the bit for Belladonna, book two in Fiona Paul’s The Secrets Of The […]