Hello again! Today’s book review is about a book I read for the 2012 Debut Authors Challenge hosted by The Story Siren, Cross My Heart by Sasha Gould.
Venice, 1585. When 16-year-old Laura della Scala learns that her older sister, Beatrice, was drowned, she is given no time to grieve. Instead, Laura’s father removes her from the convent where he forcibly sent her years earlier and orders her to marry Beatrice’s fiancé, a repulsive old merchant named Vincenzo. Panicked, Laura betrays a powerful man to earn her way into the Segreta, a shadowy society of women who deal in only one currency—secrets. The Segreta seems like the answer to Laura’s prayers. The day after she joins their ranks, Vincenzo is publicly humiliated and conveniently exiled. Soon, however, Laura begins to suspect that her sister’s death was not a tragic accident but a cold-blooded murder—one that might involve the Segreta and the women she has come to trust.
I must admit I was drawn to the cover of Cross My Heart. I mean look at it — it is gorgeous! I love the way in which the girl’s gown become the image of Venice with the buildings, canals and gondolas. Gorgeous and smart. Smart because Venice is almost a character in and of itself in this book so it makes sense to feature it on the cover.
When I was a Social Studies teacher (before I was a librarian) the 7th grade curriculum covered the history of the Mayas in ancient Latin America. We studied their culture and the fact that, although there are many theories, no one really knows exactly why the Mayas abandoned their cities. The Mayas were a history mystery, as I’d tell the class to help them differentiate between them and the Aztecs or Incas. So, I love my historical fiction mixed in with a bit of history. Cross My Heart is just that. The story opens with the mysterious death of a young Venetian woman. Gould totally grabbed my attention with this one. I was hooked and once I was hooked I couldn’t put it down. Also, there’s a huge twist that I totally didn’t see coming, but once it did it made total sense.
Sometimes when a story begins with suspense like this one, it starts to fall off towards the middle, but I was pleasantly surprised when the story continued to intrigue me. One of the major driving forces of this continued interest was the Segreta. I love the idea of a secret society of powerful Venetian women using secrets to pull the strings of politics in the city. I only wish we could have seen a little more of the Segreta and the way in which they use their power (maybe a sequel?).
Cross My Heart is a light, but suspense filled historical fiction debut that I would recommend to readers who like some mystery mixed in with their history! I think older teen girls would enjoy this one more than boys as well (since there is a hint of romance too!).
Also, there is another cover I keep seeing floating around but I’m not sure which is the official one. It lends the book an extra air of intrigue, and would appeal more to teen readers, but I just love one above.
Author: Sasha Gould
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books (March 13, 2012)
Format: Ebook ARC from NetGalley (THANK YOU!)
Length: 272 pages
Buy the Book: Cross My Heart