Friday, August 27, 2010

REVIEW: Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep

ISBN 1439147973  
Series: Elemental Assassin, Book 1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
(c) January 2010, Pocket Books

Rating: 4 stars

Gin Blanco is known as the Spider, an untouchable assassin for hire who kills people for the right price. She kills those who prey on the innocent and makes certain they will never hurt anyone ever again. Gin is an Elemental who has control over the elements of stone and ice, and in dangerous crunch times she can use her powers if need be. But Gin prefers to use old fashioned weapons, like knives, to hit her mark.

Gin covers up her real job with a part-time one as a cook for the Pork Pit which serves the best barbecue in Ashland, the fictional southern metropolis where Spider’s Bite takes place. The Pork Pit is run by Fletcher Lane, the man who saved Gin when her family was killed when she was thirteen. He raised her as his own daughter and taught her all the tricks of the assassin trade, which she puts to use to become the most sought after assassin east of the Mississippi.

Gin longs for the chance to take a vacation, but Fletcher has a job that is just too good to pass up. Who could say no to the sweet siren call of five million dollars? She is paid to take out Gordon Giles, a local businessman who has been embezzling money from a powerful fire elemental named Mab Monroe, who runs the Ashland underworld and pretty much the mundane world too.

It should’ve been a quick “hit it and quit it”, to quote James Brown.

The job, which was to be done at the Ashland Opera house, goes awry, starting with the presence of Detective Donovan Caine. He was obsessed with exacting revenge on the assassin who killed his partner…and that assassin just so happens to be Gin. She is also attacked by a fellow assassin who was hired to kill her after she killed Gordon Giles and barely makes it out of the opera house with her life. She runs back to the Pork Pit only to find Fletcher flayed alive and laying in a pool of his own blood. Gin runs to save Finn, Fletcher’s son, before he is killed and they disappear. This is personal and Gin won’t rest until the people who have done this pay.

The web, pun intended, of drama continues when the people responsible for killing Fletcher and going after Gin and Finn went after Detective Caine as well. Gin saves him and introduces him to her world and most importantly herself. This brings one of the most interesting aspects of the book to life: the relationship between Caine and Gin. The lust is instantaneous. Gin wastes no time letting the reader know how her body responds to Caine. One of the first descriptions we hear about him is “I wonder if he holds himself with so much confidence in the bedroom…I bet he does. I wish I knew first hand.”

Caine on the other hand is fighting with the two halves of himself: the half that wants to turn Gin, The Spider, in to justice for killing his partner (a dirty cop) and the half that has those dark desires of a man who aches for a woman like Gin.

The world that Estep creates, or the slice of the world that Gin and her cohorts inhabit at least, is full and richly detailed. I loved the way she went about developing her idea of a world inhabited by Elementals, vampires, giants, dwarves, etc. The different types of Elemental magic: Ice, Stone, Air, and Fire (the big four) are well described and each has its advantages and its weaknesses over the other three. The world works very well and each supernatural aspect was crafted in a way like it was meant to be part of Estep’s world, thanks to her vivid descriptions and attention to detail. 

Sometimes Estep breached the line of 'telling' not 'showing', especially in the beginning as Gin explained the mechanics of magic users, elementals and everything not fully human in between, but as the book went on Estep grew more confident in letting Gin's narration and insights color her surroundings. The story is told from Gin's POV, and she admits (many times) that she leans more towards the pragmatic amoral gray side of life, so the tone of the book is darker than if it was told from a third person standpoint. 

From graphic fight scenes and assassinations to steamy scenes of lust that get the most liberal of folk heated, Spider’s Bite is a must read for any Urban Fantasy fan. A great start to a great series.

Well done Mrs. Estep, well done.

Reviewed by Kyle
Journey of KgB

Book Summary:

My name is Gin, and I kill people.

They call me the Spider. I'm the most feared assassin in the South -- when I'm not busy at the Pork Pit cooking up the best barbecue in Ashland. As a Stone elemental, I can hear everything from the whispers of the gravel beneath my feet to the vibrations of the soaring Appalachian Mountains above me. My Ice magic also comes in handy for making the occasional knife. But I don't use my powers on the job unless I absolutely have to. Call it professional pride.

Now that a ruthless Air elemental has double-crossed me and killed my handler, I'm out for revenge. And I'll exterminate anyone who gets in my way -- good or bad. I may look hot, but I'm still one of the bad guys. Which is why I'm in trouble, since irresistibly rugged Detective Donovan Caine has agreed to help me. The last thing this coldhearted killer needs when I'm battling a magic more powerful than my own is a sexy distraction...especially when Donovan wants me dead just as much as the enemy.

Note: This book was provided by the publisher/author for review.


dor said...

Wow...what a job. I would enjoy this. Made me think of the show Dexter..except he cuts people up. ewe

dorcontest at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

Nice review. This is yet another I've heard so many good things about but have yet to get to it. I own the 1st and 2nd book in the series but just haven't reached it yet.

Stephanie G
Paranormal Haven

Scorpio M. said...

I picked this book to dip my toes into the UF genre, I think I picked well. Enjoyed your review. I'll move this up my TBR!

Lindsey said...

This sounds great! I'm surprised I hadn't even heard of it up until now, but there you go. This one's going on my wishlist for sure (maybe it's because I'm on a female assassin kick, as I've just started reading Rardin's Jaz Parks books).

Marie Harte said...

I love this book and I'm not the biggest urban fantasy fan, nor am I totally into first person POV, but Estep has such an engaging voice! I've read the first two books and am DYING to read Venom, book three. I think it comes out in Sept, and it's killing me to wait.


Leontine said...

I just love this series, this book really sets up quite a few intriguing storylines and I just love the characters. Glad to read you enjoyed it too :)) Now on to book 2 and 3 cause Gin just warmed up in Spider's Bite!

jeanette8042 said...

Great review! I've been debating about reading this book and you've convinced me to do so!

IheartBrookings said...

Awesome review!

Elie said...

I have this one on my shelf and I can't wait to read it. So glad it is worth the wait.

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