REVIEW: Starling by Fiona Paul

starlingStarling (Secrets of the Eternal Rose #3) by Fiona Paul
Philomel, 2014
[Goodreads] [Book Depository]

Previous Installments: Venom | Belladonna

The dark, seductive conclusion to the thrilling Secrets of the Eternal Rose trilogy!

In the final book in the trilogy, Cass and Luca are back in Venice trying to find the Book of the Eternal Rose to clear Luca’s name and keep them both out of prison. But the hunters become the hunted when the Order of the Eternal Rose figures out their plan. Filled with twists and turns, danger and torrid romances, this novel brings the Secrets of the Eternal Rose novels to a thrilling, heart-pounding, sexy conclusion.

mythoughtsI have a very love-hate relationship with Fiona Paul’s Secrets of the Eternal Rose series. For the most part, I liked both of the previous books, even though portions of Venom and Belladonna sent me into a Falco-induced rage. I also found myself equally amused, frustrated and confused by the main character, Cassandra. But through all of our ups and downs, I really found this series to be solidly written, and – for the most part – absolutely enthralling and engaging. That being said, Starling by far outpaces the previous two installments, and – while there were one or two moments here that made me roll my eyes (again in Falco-induced irritation), I actually really loved how this book brought everything full circle, and the amount of character growth present in its pages.

What I liked the most about this book was Cass’ character, which surprised no one as much as it did me. While she really did frustrate me over and over again in the previous books, in Starling she was just so determined and almost calm in some ways, even though there was just as much danger and intrigue still surrounding her. I loved that she really seemed to find herself and figure out what she wanted; that theme of realizing her heart and using those she loved and lost to make her stronger carried throughout the book and just really drew me in to her and helped me – finally – get to know her and understand her and, ultimately, love her. Her character growth was amazing, and I was so happy to see the person she grew into at the end of the book.

I also want to give mad props to the author, because – like Cass’ character growth – I really felt like I could see exactly how much Ms. Paul grew as a writer while working on this series. I felt like the story really flowed well in Starling, creating a perfect mesh of the drama necessary to further the plot with the slower moments of personal growth that both Cass and Luca (and even Falco) went through. I just really found the writing to be tighter and more cohesive, and that furthered my enjoyment of the story. I also liked the way she reintroduced characters we’d gotten to know in Venom (and Belladonna, but mostly the first book since the setting moved back to Venice), and the way we got to see some of their backstory and history. I also thoroughly enjoyed the introduction of the courtesans – Flavia, in particular, was quite a treat!

Because I don’t want to spoil anyone who’s still thinking about giving this series a try, I’m going to go ahead and refrain from saying anything else, because all of my other thoughts are really quite spoilery. Suffice it to say that Starling was a fabulous finale to this series, and – while I still had my moments with Falco (see my Belladonna review if you’d like to read my Falco rant) – was a book I very much loved from beginning to end. I highly recommend this series to pretty much everyone, particularly if you’re a fan of historical YA!


ARC was won via a contest from Paper Lantern Lit. This in no way impacted my review.


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4 Responses to REVIEW: Starling by Fiona Paul

  1. Livvy @The Absent Historian says:

    I have not actually heard of this series, but I think I will probably pass on reading this since I have so much to read. I am glad you managed to enjoy it through to the end despite your love-hate relationship. I do like the sound of Cass’ character growth though. Great review.

  2. I’ve heard really good things about this series. I checked out the first book from the library awhile ago, but never got around to reading it. It’s a little intimidating, though. It’s soooo big!

    Glad you liked this.

  3. Pingback: August in Review | Read and Reviewed

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