Prepare yourself for a story with vivid descriptions and a tantalizing mystery, because Venom delivers that and so much more. From luxurious masked balls to an eerie graveyard behind Cass's home, Fiona Paul's descriptions excelled using the third person POV to intricately depict each new locale. While it could have been easy to let the scenery outshine the characters or the plot, everything remains nicely balanced and equally well-written throughout the novel.
The deeper Cass digs into the mystery of a murdered courtesan, the more danger she finds herself in. With a killer that may be targeting her, not to mention her conflicting feelings for Falco (a mysterious and amusing artist) and Luca (her kind fiancé, who has a few secrets of his own) Cass's normal life spirals out of control. While at times it may feel like you've seen it all before*, Venom takes each element and creates a story that is undeniably difficult to set aside. Mysterious, passionate, and surprising, Venom doesn't disappoint.
Highlights: Fiona Paul kept the mystery alive throughout the entire story by withholding the last final clues for the end. Despite the two love interests, it never felt like a love triangle since Cass only has eyes for one young man. Each love interest is more complicated than I expected – both are flawed, so it's challenging to choose a side. Description was lovely and so very vivid.
Lowlights: Originally, I was going to give this book five stars based on pure enjoyment of the story. But, there were some issues. Multiple clichés, and the secret society in the summary was barely mentioned in the novel. Cass could be a bit too reckless sometimes, but I understand why she was (the story wouldn't have went anywhere if she wasn't a bit reckless).
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
* There's one section that seemed exactly like a scene in Titanic, if only a more PG-13 version. Not a bad thing, but it did make me want to watch Titanic again...