Spider's Bite: An Elemental Assassin Book Mass Market Paperback – Jan 26 2010
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"Watch out world, here comes Gin Blanco. Funny, smart, and dead sexy." -- Lilith Saintcrow, author of Redemption Alley
"A raw, gritty, and compelling walk on the wild side, one that had me hooked from the first page." -- Nalini Singh, New York Times bestselling author
About the Author
Jennifer Estep is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea. Spider’s Bite, Web of Lies, Venom, Tangled Threads, Spider’s Revenge, By a Thread, Widow’s Web, Deadly Sting, Heart of Venom, The Spider, Poison Promise, Black Widow, Spider’s Trap, Bitter Bite, and Unraveled, along with the e-shorts Thread of Death, Parlor Tricks, and Kiss of Venom, are the other works in her red-hot Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series. Jennifer is also the author of the Black Blade and Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series and the Bigtime paranormal romance series. For more on Jennifer and her books, visit her at www.JenniferEstep.com and @Jennifer_Estep.
Top Customer Reviews
She's been hired to take out a man who's been embezzling from his company. When she shows up for the hit, everything goes wrong and sets in motion a series of events that leaves her on the run, her handler/foster father dead and a cop as her partner. Not her usual day.
Also working along side Gin and Detective Donovan Caine, is her foster brother Finn Lane. He works as a banker, though has received the same career training as Gin. He's a good man to 'have your back'. Complicating the case ,s Mab Monroe. She is wealthy, an elemental and has her fingers in every pie in town. Not a woman to be crossed.
I read this book over the course of two days and loved every minute. I was glad to learn that this series currently has 12 books as well as some short stories to fill in a few story gaps. Visit author Jennifer Estep's website for a complete list.
i was intrigued by one of the sandwiches that Gin makes for the boys. Peanut butter and pumpkin, sounds strange, but tempting. I just had to try it. I didn't think there was anything that could make a peanut butter sandwich taste better, but now I know, it's canned pumpkin.
Peanut Butter Pumpkin Sandwich
Mix equal amounts of peanut butter and canned pumpkin.
Spread on one side of one slice of bread.
Top with slices of banana.
Drizzle with honey and then dust with cinnamon.
Top with another slice of bread or eat open face.
The Appalachian Mountains cut through most of the city. It makes for a beautiful place. But looks are deceiving, more often than not. Take Mab Monroe for example. Mab is a young, lovely woman. She is also a powerful Fire elemental. Mab runs this town. Heck, Mab OWNS Ashland. Her true nature is hidden behind fund raisers, charity donations, and winning smiles. Mab never hires assassins, like the Spider, to do her dirty work. Mab prefers to personally deal with anyone stupid enough to cross her. In fact, Mab could kill someone in front of a room filled with cops and walk away without any interference.
Gin stays out of Mab's way. The Spider is NOT stupid. She has a few morals left. Gin never kills children or animals. Gin's handler has chosen her assignments for well over a decade. He is one of the few she trusts with her life. So when an Air elemental double-crosses Gin and kills him, Gin is out for revenge. Gin will find out who is behind it all, one body at a time.
Detective Donovan Caine is probably the only cop in Ashland that is not corrupted. Donovan wants the Spider dead for personal reasons; however, he agrees to help he assassin for even more personal reasons. But once this is over all promises will be null and void. The Spider will continue her deadly trade and he will do all in his power to arrest the assassin and put her behind bars forever.
***** FIVE STARS! Wow!Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Gin Blanco, the heroine of Spider's Bite, is an assassin. She's not a former assassin. She's not an assassin in the service of some higher cause, she has no special dispensation from angels or demons or any other supernatural group that hands out licenses to kill. She's an assassin for hire and she takes real pride in a job well done. Gin does prefer to kill people who deserve it - she does a fair amount of "pro bono" work, as she calls it - but this is one book that doesn't gloss over the fact that even her charitable activities leave bodies on the floor, wives without husbands, children without fathers.
The plot is fast-paced, a real page-turner. As the book opens, Gin is just finishing one job and, once the deed is done, she's immediately sent on another. She prefers a little more prep time, but the contract is worth $5 million and the job doesn't sound too hard: all she has to do is kill a middle aged accountant within a certain time frame. For an assassin of Gin's caliber, nothing could be easier. But just as she's about to pull the trigger, Gin discovers she's been double-crossed: the client who took out the contract on the accountant took out another on Gin herself. The plan was for Gin's death to tie up any loose ends related to the accountant's murder and keep suspicion away from the client. But things don't go as planned. Gin kills the assassin hired to kill her rather than the other way around, and then she goes looking for revenge.
Gin isn't squeamish about killing, but she does have a softer side and she's utterly dedicated to the few people in the world who she really cares about. Saying she'd protect them with her life is putting it mildly. I found Gin surprisingly likable. She's so confident, so at ease with herself, and she throws herself into whatever she does 110%. I was really convinced by her personality, by the mix of deep feeling and heartless violence, and I rooted for her even as the bodies piled up.
The fantasy aspect here has a lot of supernatural species running amok in the world - dwarves, vampires, and giants - but especially elementals. Elementals have magic related to one of the four elements: fire, stone, air, and ice. In some cases, two. Gin is a Stone elemental, and the villain of Spider's Bite is an Air elemental. The magic is pretty thoroughly integrated into the story, but all of the characters behaved like humans. There didn't seem to be any kind species-centric personality traits - no werewolves with pack instinct, no vampires who can't control their bloodlust, etc. This made the magic feel a lot more mundane...which might be a good or bad thing, depending on your perspective.
Spider's Bite didn't make me jump up and down with glee, but it's probably the best series-starter I've read in a couple of months, and I'm eager to read the sequel.
Furthermore, the author spends a lot of writing reminding the reader of the same things. "Gin hasn't cried in seventeen years." Fletcher drinking chicory coffee, Finn drinking chicory coffee. The firemage killed her family. The redundancy makes the plot seem slow and tedious to follow.
I saw some reviewers disliked Gin's masculine-like sexual inner monologues. At first I actually liked that she was a sexual person and comfortable with that, but it does become more of a parody than a realistic portrayal of a dominant woman who is comfortable with her sexuality. Especially, with the usage of "Mmm" after every one of those scenes.
I loved the thoroughness of the world building in Spider's Bite. Magic is common. Some people are gifted with magical abilities tied to various elements (Stone, Ice, Earth, and Fire) and vampires, dwarves, and giants are part of the population. And I definitely think that the urban fantasy genre was ripe for a good female assassin
It should come as no surprise that Jennifer Estep is a self proclaimed fan of the show Alias. In the opening scene of Spider's Bite, Gin is trying to escape from an insane asylum in a way that is very reminiscent of one of my favorite episodes of Alias. Gin had to be resourceful, patient and quick on her feet. And as an assassin, I liked her immediately. When she wasn't killing people? Not quite as much.
Gin is an extremely aggressive character in every sense of the word. Alpha with a capital `A.' In her professional life, that aggression is vital. She would have died long ago without it. In her personal life? It's a little hard to take.
Normally I prefer at least a little romance in my urban fantasy, but I hate to say that I think Spider's Bite would have fared better without it. That's not to say there actually is any romance in this book, there isn't. But there is a fair amount of sex. I'm all for strong women and all that, but Gin came off as very masculine in her encounters with Detective Donovan. Which in turn made Donovan look like a chick. The way she objectified him, the way he fought his lust for her because of moral reasons...we've seen it before in a hundred other books (and movies) with the roles reversed. It sounds like it would be a fun switch, but I found it off-putting. On a side note this type of switch worked amazingly well in the movie Point of No Return which incidentally also featured a female assassin. So it can work, I just don't think it did here.
What did work was the meta-narrative that was set up for the series. The history of Gin, who killed her family and why. It's clear that Jennifer Estep has an endgame in mind with this series. The next two books in the Elemental Assassin series are scheduled for release in 2010 (Web of Lies in June and Venom in October). I'll be looking forward to them, hopefully Gin will lighten up just a little with her personal life. In her professional life? She already kills.
After agreeing to a risky contract which ends up going south, Gin quickly finds herself fighting tooth and nail to protect those she loves while trying to stay alive herself. But the only way she's going to make it out alive in the corrupt and brutal city of Ashland is by aligning herself with by-the-book Detective Donovan Caine. Which can only complicate matters since said easy-on-the-eyes Detective happens to loathe every single aspect of Gin's chosen profession. Figures.
Jennifer Estep has created an intriguing new world in her newest series Elemental Assassins. As a dangerous and corrupt city with dirty cops ready to look the other way, Ashland reminds me of a southern Gotham City with an added bonus of powerful magic. Though equipped with an appealing world-building concept, I struggled to connect to Gin as a character. Even in the face of tragedy, I never really felt that her grief was genuine. Sad to say, her narrative often seemed forced and quite repetitive. I often found myself hearing Gin describe the same types of scenes over and over again. Her enemies were always "sloppy, sloppy, sloppy" and every description of the attractive Detective Caine ended with "Mmm." While I'll give you that a good lookin' man can be mouth watering, I don't need the blatant reminder every time he pops up. Though I did catch a glimmer of chemistry between Gin and Caine, their awkward exchanges tended to leave me surprisingly uncomfortable and a little squeamish more often than not. How unfortunate. Gin's story really had the potential for becoming a honest and hard-hitting UF series but Spider's Bite ultimately failed to deliver on the entertainment front.
On a side note, I am actually totally digging this cover. In a Urban Fantasy market awash of books that have no relation whatsoever to their story, the cover art for Spider's Bite is refreshingly accurate, and really eye-catching.
As I've mentioned before, I didn't finish the book, and cannot comment on the entire plot. I suppose if you have a lot of time to kill and aren't fussy about the things I described above, you should give the book a shot. However, to those who don't have much time to waste, I recommend looking elsewhere. There are a lot of great paranormal and urban fantasy books out there (off the top of my head, Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews, Seanan McGuire, Richelle Mead, Chloe Neill, Gail Carriger, Lucy Snyder, Jim Butcher, Jeaniene Frost and, for lighter fare, Molly Harper, and this is just a small portion of what's out there). And it seems, there is a new fantasy book released every day. So if you are like me, feel free to give this one a miss.