The first installment in Jennifer Estep's new Elemental Assassin series, Spider's Bite introduces us to Ashland, a southern city in the Appalachians where you're as likely to run across a good barbeque joint as you are a vampire hooker on the corner. It's a gritty film noir-ish world with lots of back alleys, hit squads, and corrupt cops behind most every badge. The main character is Gin Blanco, or Gin to her friends, but in some circles she's known only as Spider the assassin. However, in the secretive world of Ashland, she and her cohorts seem to be just as trustworthy and honorable as the next guy but are they? Everyone in this town has an angle, a history and it seems most have blood on their hands.
Actress Lauren Fortgang does a fascinating balancing act voicing Gin. There's ample southern lilt and sly naughty charm to bring the material to life, and there is considerable music and imagery to be mined here in the writing. Yet her voice has enough bite and gravel to ground our no-nonsense morally ambiguous anti-heroine. The challenge for any good book in the urban fantasy genre is the paradox of making wildly fantastical worlds believable. Estep manages to take Ashland this world of troubled souls, dwarfs, giants, and vampires, as well as human elementals who can tap into the very forces of nature and make it all seem part of the everyday grind. With Spider's Bite you feel as if you could really walk these streets, but you'd also immediately feel the dirt on your skin and the hairs rising on the back of your neck as you hear noises in the shadows. Fortgang completes the task, making Gin a very believable character, somehow part embittered hard-ass, part loyal friend, and vulnerable lost soul on occasion.
The book takes a cue from its main character. It is patient, carefully spinning a web of atmospheric settings and carefully observed characters then like a spider it jumps into action from the dark. Ashland is a tricky place and you can never judge anyone by appearances, especially Gin, and it seems there's a long line of those who have died underestimating her. One should be wary, though, of any sexy southern charmer who can not only summon razor-sharp ice daggers from thin air, but also control the very bricks in walls, rocks, and stones, and the very ground beneath her. Cleo Creech
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.
©2010 Jennifer Estep (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
"Fortgang’s captivating drawl sketches Finn’s flirty, genteel arrogance and Caine’s horrified disapproval of her. Fortgang portrays Gin’s well-hidden emotions as well as her habitual analysis of combat probabilities. The capable narration ensures that Gin comes across as an intriguing mix of battle-weary assassin, sorceress, and affectionate homebody. Fortgang also delivers the book’s wry humor with subtle elegance." (AudioFile)
"reading junkie" I read or listen to almost anything except for non-fiction or history, unless I find it interesting.
The first book is actually ok. I have a hard time telling people this awful. For one thing it wasn't and everyone has different tastes. I have a problem with the way Gin ( the main character) whines through half of the books about a guy. A guy that she wasn't in a real relationship with just sex. The story line is interesting and the characters help carry the story along.
Gin our witting heroine is a tough no nonsense woman. She is stubborn,, bullheaded and just enough of a smartass to make you laugh, I was sucked in from the start and read the entire book in 2 days. Great southern narrator, beautiful descriptions. You go J Estep.
...surprisingly good that is! I have been putting this book off for months. One day, when I had no other book to read/listen, I decided it was finally time; I pressed 'play'.
SURPRISE! I was quickly transported to the seedy world of Ashland and I didn't want to come back. Gin, Finn, and yes, even the brooding Donovan Caine kept me locked in this universe of vampire hookers, giant cops, dwarfs and elementals. I can't wait to start the next book in the series!!
The Narrator has a very sexy southern accent (IMO). The elemental magic is cool and looked at in a new way. The characters are larger then life and its a fast exciting read. This is the exact book I like to take me out of my history or other 40+ hour audible books. There isn't a deep dive into how the magic works or complex relationships. Its direct, action packed, and diverting as I do house work. I recommend it as long as this is your genera because you get exactly what you'd expect in a 10 hour magic assassin book. Plus there are 7 books so you can intersperse them between your other reads to mix things up.
I am a registered nurse and a father of four great kids. I live in a rural part of Oregon and love it. I enjoy books, but Sci-Fi Fantasy has allows been the ones I reach for more than others.
Mouth and Eye Opening
The most interesting part of this story was the way Estep mixes fantasy genre characters to a romance or sort of romance setting. The action begins quickly and really doesn't stop with these introduce into this series.
Yes, I really enjoyed the character of Fortgang's voice along with the clarity it brought to the storyline.
This was a surprising good listen for a randomly picked book. I will be listening to the rest of the series and hope it measures up to the introductory book
The narrator does a great job, but there's just no getting around the poor writing. There is too much description, most of which is dripping with analogies, and the author finds it necessary to constantly remind you of the heroine's tragic past, crushing grief, etc. I get it. I got it 10 repetitions ago. The pacing is also pretty slow for this kind of book. Only the narrator made it possible for me to listen to the whole thing.
The story is good and I plan to buy the physical book. The narrator would stop in the middle of a sentence. Also, she had way too big of a silence gap in between sentences. I could not get past chapter one.
For anyone that is looking to relax and likes to take their time getting to through a story, this books for you. The story was good but the tempo/pace and deep voice of the reader just made it boring to me.
I actually changed my iPod speed to "faster" which helped for a while. It was just too slow.
I am married with a teenage son and run my own business. As I am visually impaired, audio books are my life.
I've had this one for quite a while in my library and finally decided to listen to it. It was surprisingly good. I'm looking forward to listening to the rest of the series when I get a chance.
Tell us about yourself! I love to read or listen( audio), nothing abridged ,I want every word the author penned that is what I want.
Very fast pace filled with action and its a nail biter. I couldn't stop listening . Can't wait to read #2 in series
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