by Fiona Paul
To be published by Philomel
on July 16, 2013
Source: ARC sent by Paper Lantern Lit
Connect with the author: blog | Twitter.
Summary from Goodreads: Cassandra Caravello is trying to forget Falco, the wild artist who ran off with her heart, as she grows closer to her strong, steady fiancé, Luca. But Luca seems to have his own secrets. When he’s arrested by soldiers in the middle of the night, Cass’s life is once again thrown into chaos. She must save Luca, and that means finding the Book of the Eternal Rose—the only evidence that will prove he’s innocent. So begins her journey to Florence, a city haunted by whispers of vampirism, secret soirees and clandestine meetings of the Order of the Eternal Rose. And home to Falco, who is working for the Order’s eerily stunning leader, the Belladonna herself. Can Cass trust her heart to lead her to the truth this time?
Nothing is as it seems in this seductive thriller, where the truth may be the deadliest poison of all.
My take: I enjoyed Venom, the first book in this series, and I think I have a pretty similar take on Belladonna. Both books make for fun reading, even for those who aren't so crazy about historical fiction. If your memory is a little fuzzy, Belladonna also does an excellent job of recapping the action in Venom.
As in the first book, most of the plot centers around Cass sneaking around. This time, however, both of the guys in the series love triangle are in short supply. But by the end of the book, this love triangle also takes some rather interesting turns. I was excited that Belladonna moved the story action from Venice to Florence. Though I didn't feel that Florence was as vividly portrayed as Venice was in the first book, small period details added to the overall atmosphere. I especially loved the information about medical treatment at the time, though it would have been helpful to have an author's note that explained what in the book was historically accurate and what was fictionalized. My ARC didn't have this information, though it may be in the finished copy.Were young girls in the water-bound city of Venice really not taught to swim? Were there real diseases at the time that fueled stories of vampires?
Yes, vampires. I was definitely not expecting vampires to show up in this book. According to the OED, the term vampire was not even used until the 18th century, though folk tales about the undead and blood drinking did exist at the time of the story. In any case, I thought that the whole vampire mystique actually did marry well with the book's Renaissance setting, a time when artists were digging up dead bodies and painting weird stuff like this -- click for a Mashable rundown of best paintings of creepy Renaissance babies. Seriously, you'll laugh -- or be totally creeped out...
Though the creep factor in Belladonna isn't quite as high as the creep factor in those paintings, I think readers who enjoy the lighter side of historical fiction will enjoy this book and this series.