Friday, July 26, 2013

A Venomous Past

Serial Killers aren't a new phenomenon, they are just more commonly talked about. So, is it hard to imagine the dark dealings that may be going on in the shadows of a city like Venice? In Fiona Paul's new series, The Secrets of the Eternal Rose, she explores the mystery of murders only a young girl is willing to investigate.

Cass lives the life of any other Venetian girl of means: she waits to be married off so she can become a proper wife. The only problem is her fiance, Luca, is a terrible bore. When her friend succumbs to an illness and dies, Cass has a hard time dealing with the loss, especially after having lost both her parents. At night she slips out of her house to visit her parents' graves, and when she does so to visit her friend, she finds the body has been replaced by another body- one that certainly doesn't belong there and certainly did not meet a peaceful end. With a giant X carved into her chest, the girl clearly met an ugly ending. Terrified, Cass leaves the crypt and bumps into a man named Falco. She should be scared of any guy wandering the graveyard at night, but there is something about Falco she finds intriguing. When he agrees to help her investigate the girl in the crypt, Cass finds herself with a new partner in crime.

Together, Cass and Falco delve into the seediest areas of Venice, places Falco is clearly comfortable with but that Cass has never experienced. Throughout their investigation, Cass finds herself drawn to him in ways a proper engaged girl shouldn't be thinking about a man who isn't her betrothed. Of course, she isn't exactly proper as she escapes into the night in her nightgown with a strange man to hunt down a murderer. Cass's connection with Falco makes her forget just how dangerous what they are doing truly is, but the shadows of Venice can only stay hidden for so long. 

I had actually started this book a while ago and put it down only a few pages into it because I just wasn't in the mood for historical fiction, and I am really glad I did, because when I finally did read it, I really enjoyed it. Good historical fiction doesn't get bogged down with too many specifics of the time period, but rather allows them to come out naturally through the progression of a really good plot. That was how this story was. It had a great pace, a solid story, and it really kept me intrigued right to the last page. In fact, I really loved how the whole setting developed around the plot. 

Sometimes I was a little annoyed with Cass, especially with her volleying feelings about Falco and Luca. There were times when it felt like her feelings went from one guy to the other six times before the end of a page. It was so frustrating! But in the end, I was surprised but not displeased with where the story left her between the two men. It left me wanting to come back for more and check out the next book in the series. The story deals with some ugly parts of the time period (prostitution, lack of police protection, murder, indentured servants, etc.) and might be better for older readers. But if you have a younger student who is a strong reader and enjoys historical fiction, this is for you! 

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