Review: A Beast in Venice

A Beast in Venice by Michael E Henderson


While strolling the misty streets of his beloved Venice in search of a good martini, middle-aged ex-lawyer-turned-artist Brigham Stone sees a man walk through a brick wall. His wife, Rose, blames the booze (doesn’t she always?), but his gondolier friend, Mauro, is convinced ghoulish creatures known as “shroud eaters” have returned to Venice after a centuries-long absence.

As Brigham struggles to succeed as an artist in Venice and gain representation in a gallery in the world of Italian protectionism, a rich new patron, Charles Raymond, finds him. Charles seems like a kindly old man with money and a taste for art, but he has other, more sinister, tastes lurking behind his dapper clothes and friendly manner.

Meanwhile, strange things are happening in Venice, and Brigham finds it more difficult to ignore Mauro’s shroud eater theory. Bodies, butchered and devoid of blood, are found floating in the canals, and Brigham is attacked by unknown assailants, but when he meets an alluring young woman who introduces him to the world of underground vampire clubs, he can no longer bury his own curiosity.

Drawn into a hidden world of torture, blood, and murder, Brigham must grapple with a hideous evil that on the one hand grants him eternal life, but on the other threatens to claim his humanity, his marriage, and his life.

A Beast in Venice
Michael E. Henderson
Publisher: Gemelli Press
Publication: June 2014
Genre: Fantasy, Dark, Horror, Supernatural
I received this title for free in exchange for an honest review
Locate: amazon | b&n | worldcat
Rated: ★ DNF @ 65%

A Beast in Venice by Michael E Henderson

So, this is my first negative experience with ARCs, which really saddens me. The synopsis is perhaps the most exciting part of the novel, which is a major disappointment. I was really looking forward to reading a great new dark fantasy/supernatural novel featuring vampires and ghouls. The fact that it took place in Italy only made me want to read this even more. The beginning was agonizingly slow. We are introduced to middle-aged Brigham Stone, a former lawyer who moved to Venice with his new wife in order to pursue his real passion, art. Yet, his real passion seems to be alcohol since you never go more than a handful of pages without his ordering something to drink. Now, I understand alcohol is part of the European culture, I am the product of two European parents – one of whom is French and the other Spanish raised in Italy. This, however, was completely overdone in the story. Brigham cared more about finding quality gin than working on his art.

Now, I didn’t get into this for the art, so it wouldn’t really matter to me if we actually had something else to focus on. Yet, for the first 50% of the novel, we get nothing. We get a character who just lets himself be swept away by anything that comes along, who questions nothing, who truly cares about nothing other than escaping old age. Even his desire to escape old age isn’t passionate or forceful. I kept reading because I wanted to see what we get, if we were ever going to get the vampire or the ghoul and finally around the 50% mark of the book, we do, but even that is a letdown. The supposed beast is not so monstrous as a human or as a beast, and his acts are nothing that a true fan of the horror genre hasn’t seen or read about before. Finally, when I saw that this was not going to be getting any better, I gave up and had to add it to my DNF list. I almost never put anything there since I am a bit OCD in my reading, needing to finish whatever I have started, but sometimes, you just can’t force yourself through it.

I don’t know how this book has managed to get such high ratings on goodreads and amazon, but I’m happy to hear that there are people that are interested in A Beast in Venice, even if I will never be one of them.

Quotes & Excerpts

 AKA reasons I stopped reading

“Nothing else to do. And not so amazing. I know CPR. I was in the Navy, you know.”
“No, I didn’t know.”
“Fought the Cold War. Came out unscathed.”
-Chapter Thirteen

“You noticed that I didn’t give her mouth-to-mouth.”
“I would have let her die first.”
“I would have let her die anyway,” Mr. Todd said matter-of-factly.
“Then, Mr. Todd, we understand each other.”
A large glob of white seagull shit splattered in the middle of the tan tablecloth. “Hey, look,” Brigham said, “a Jackson Pollock.”
-Chapter Thirteen

“Does an Arab strap a bomb to a child and send him to blow up other children because he’s an Arab? No. He does it because his culture allows it. Perhaps demands it.”
-Chapter Seventeen

About Lulu

Thirty-something year old educator based in New York, Lulu loves books, blogging, gaming, and the three cats with whom she shares her life. Book reviews specialize in all kinds of fantasy, some YA, some romance, and some contemporary, especially in the gothic genre.