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)
This kind of book is a bit like eating chocolate. It's probably not great for the brain, but it is just an indulgent goody of a book. A hot gal, tough as nails, but damaged in many ways, goes out and kicks butt on bad guys. What isn't to like about that!!?
Wow, what a great narrator! She brought this book to life. I bought this book on sale and now must have the rest of the series. Great interesting characters. Definitely worth a credit!
THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST WRITTEN SERIES I HAVE EVER READ. ADDICTING! ACTION, HUMOR, ROMANCE ALL WRAPPED UP WITH INTERESTING CHARACTERS AND A GRIPPING STORY LINE. LOVED IT
But thanks to Lauren Fortgang's excellent narration, I stuck with it. The plot picked up, and I finished it the following day. I am curious on how the saga continues, so I will probably buy Book #2.
I bought this book in the Sci-Fi section and I prefer more magic rather then dull murder mystery with a hint of magic.
I was wondering whether or not to buy this book and now that I listened to it, I probably wouldn't have bought it.
However if you are in to a Romantic Fantasy book where you don't mind graphic descriptions, and descriptions of sex and a lot of talking about how she wanted to have sex, then you might like this book.
It was lacking something. The characters did not seem real and I could not connect with them. It seemed too short and past history of the characters seemed to added in the wrong location. It seems as though the author wanted an action pack first book in her series. The action was not even very exciting.
Probably good for female listeners.
As the only male to review this book so far, I have to take issue with the narrator. I enjoy listening to audiobooks in which the narrator has enough range to at least make the voices of the opposite sex somewhat believable. Lauren Fortgang's attempt at the male voices in this book (and there are several) seems weak and poorly done. I like the story, although parts of it read like a romance novel, but I probably won't download the other two books - mostly because of the narrator.
OMG, this book is so boring, the plot is great but the narrator......... Even the fighting and cursing is boring. The narrator is not awful but her voice is slow and monotone. So far, I’m at chapter 19 and still no improvement. Maybe if there was another narrator it would be better. I do not want to go on listening but I paid a lot of money for this book.
This should have been stated in the description that this is women's lit. I really don't enjoy reading about how firm muscles and square jaw has some man and how the main character (a woman) is getting some tingly feelings somewhere. I wouldn't mind that sort of thing if it was written to be enjoyable also by men (meaning spare us physical details and focus on relationships). Besides that problem the story is boring. The story is certainly not rich, believable and tense. Quite opposite. The main char. spends most of the time contemplating unimportant details, the story often doesn't move forward for several chapters, the char. interactions are shallowly written. The "action" scenes are not thrilling, they are totally boring. The whole books looks to me like a forced marriage of three aspects: assasin - magic - fantasy races (dwarf, giant, vampire, elemental). They don't fit together in this story, all seems somehow inapropriate, unfitting, non-believable. All I can say is that this is just another of those now popular vampire fantasy-like wannabies riding on the popular wave. I usually don't like croaking voices and this narrator proved to be just like that.
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