(Elemental Assassin #1)
Author: Jennifer Estep
Narrator: Lauren Fortgang
Release: January 26, 2010
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My name is Gin, and I kill people.Review:
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.
Spider's Bite is the first in the popular Elemental Assassins urban fantasy series by Jennifer Estep. I'm just now getting around to reading this series, although its been on my TBR forever! I was really looking forward to getting on the Gin Blanco train and I have to say, I wasn't disappointed!
Spider's Bite was so much more than I thought it would be. Its definitely on the darker side of UF, with a lot of grit and murder and sexiness. Gin should not be an easy character to like - she's a trained assassin who kills for clients and she's very private and difficult to get to know. But somehow Estep made me not only like Gin, but empathize with her.
She is a very damaged character with a typical urban fantasy heroine background - dead family, no one to turn to, lived on the streets, etc. But the way the author stretches out the details of her back story and ends the book still without fully giving us Gin's history was really well done. I know just enough to understand her a little but I'm enticed to learn more in subsequent books. I can really get the feeling that this is a series. It doesn't feel like everything important is wrapped up in one book, but rather that we will learn more and more as the series unfolds.
The other characters - Finn, Fletcher, Donovan - are very fleshed out and well rounded. They are rich characters that I felt at home listening to and they have interesting and complicated relationships that I loved. I don't like things to be easy and predictable in my UFs and this book is wonderfully complex. Donovan and Gin's relationship is especially complex since he is constantly at odd's with his growing attraction to Gin warring against his anger that she was the assassin that killed his partner (don't worry, the partner had it coming). I really have no idea how these two can have a functional relationship, but they certainly are hot together when Donovan can stop himself from getting in his own way.
As far as the Southern setting, I almost felt like Ashland was another character in the series. The world building of the city, its occupants, and their corruption is amazingly well done. Estep introduces us to elemental magic, vampires, giants, dwarves, an unscrupulous police force all without overdoing it or filling pages with info dumps. I can't wait to learn more about the city...especially the food (Yum! Don't read this book on an empty stomach!).
Overall I'm highly impressed with this first in a series and I can't wait to dive into the rest of them. Jennifer Estep has definitely made her mark in urban fantasy with this series and I can't believe I put off reading these books for so long!
Notes on the audio: Narrator Lauren Fortgang does an awesome job of combining Gin's dark and casual attitude toward her job with her sexy Southern accent. She really hit the nail right on the head. I loved the audio, but will be reading the next two because I already owned them. However, I do plan to listen to the remainder of the series.
Recommended for fans of: dark urban fantasies, assassins, complicated romance, elemental magic, and delicious sandwiches with Gouda cheese.
4 / 5 stars