Series: The Secrets of the Eternal Rose
Author: Fiona Paul
Published: December 6th 2012
(Sent by HarperCollins Publishers)
Cassandra Caravello is an upper-class teenage girl residing in Venice with her aging Aunt. She is surrounded by wealth, fortune, fabulous gowns and anything she could have hoped for. But she yearns for something more-- Freedom. Freedom from all expectations, freedom from her commanding tasks and most of all, freedom from her premature engagement. While her fiancé, Luca, is away studying in Paris, she meets the charming and audacious artist named Falco. Cassandra stumbles upon a body with a bloody X carved into its chest. She and Falco work together to uncover the truth, while in the process, Cassandra receives a death threat from the killer. She is drawn into another world of secret societies, courtesans and killers.
I really enjoyed this novel, especially the setting. The vivid descriptions of Venice and its scenery are full of depth that flows so easily, it feels like you are right there on the journey with Cassandra. The characters were likable and they were developed reasonably well. I especially loved Cassandra in the sense that she is not what you would expect a wealthy, upper-class person to be because she is kind to the maidens, gardeners and the cooks which only adds to her personality. The author writes this novel as though she has written many others but I was surprised to find out that this was her debut novel. I know now that I will definitely be keeping my eyes out for more of her books.
I really loved the mystery in this book. Each body that was found seemed to be linked together. It was the same with the clues found at various stages of the novel. It got me thinking about how someone could create such an amazing story and it is obvious that Fiona Paul is extremely talented to create something like this. I absolutely LOVE the cover of this novel. It reveals the setting of Renaissance Venice in the background which I think contributes to the cover really well as it provides an insight of what is to come. The protagonist is also portrayed really well. She is clutching a mask in her hand which, apart from other obvious reasons, implies that she has something to hide, or wants to hide her identity from prying eyes. I think that it defines the novel really well and it also looks great.
The novel was a little slow paced at one stage during the start of the book, but then events started unfolding it was nothing but fast paced. I also would've liked to see a lot more of the secret societies mentioned in the blurb, rather than only being evident towards the end of the novel. I know that it was mentioned towards the end of the novel because it would lead up to the next but I still would've liked to see more of it.
Overall, this was a great read that I recommend for people who like Mystery and I will definitely be awaiting the next novel in the series. Fiona Paul has obvious talent for writing and I cannot wait to see how everything turns out.