My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I was really excited to read this one because of the Renaissance Venice setting, and it didn’t disappoint me. Venom was rich in historical detail, which made it really easy to picture the setting. On the other hand, it did make the first couple chapters feel a little slow, but the book picked up pretty quickly after that.
Right away we can tell Cass is going to be a spirited heroine, and she spends the entire book in conflict between what she wants and what is expected of her. This is complicated by the loyalty she feels to her aunt, whose fate is tied to Cass’s. While she seems dependent on the men surrounding her throughout the book, that really has more to do with the time period, and the choice she ends up making at the end of the book is a huge step forward for her.
I also really enjoyed the tensions going on in the background as part of the setting. While the social aspect of it doesn’t really go any deeper than “we can’t be together because I’m part of the gentry and you’re an artist,” there were other things that were tackled very well. For example, I thought Venom did a great job highlighting how marriage was really just a business transaction when discussing what sorts of husbands Cass and Magda’s dowries allowed them to “buy.” There was also a hint of the conflict between science and religion going on at this time, with Cass and Falco (the roguish artist Cass develops an attraction to) on opposite sides. And, finally, there was a theme of female sexuality throughout the book, which I thought was handled very well.
There were flaws in this book, but the things I loved outshone the things I didn’t, which is why I still gave it 5 Stars. I can’t wait for the next book in this series!