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 unlikely assassin is found starving in the streets, hiding from the woman who killed her family, by the assassin who turned down the job because his moral code does not allow him to kill children. She is trained as an assassin from this point, an assassin with a "moral code" who just wants to retire (having made plenty of money in her career). Her small group of magic wielding and totally human friends back up the story.
I love urban fantasy, paranormal romance, YA, and dystopian. My favorite authors are Ilona Andrews and Kim Harrison.
It took me 5 tries to get into it, but once I did, I was hooked, now I am inhailing the second book!! The narrator is wonderful!! It was so good, I wish I could eat it!! If you devour books like I do, you understand that feeling!!! Happy listening!
Action and sex scenes were about as exciting as watching grass grow. The narration was monotone and soft, though clearly spoken. I felt no emotions when listening to this book.
The storyline, while promising, is very predictable. The descriptions of eye color and other adjectives are overusd, as well as the words b*tch and f--k.
Her voice was soft and monotone. I felt little difference with character shifting and could not differentiate between anger, sadness, or elation.
The storyline is compelling and I see a lot of promise in it. Gin is a complex woman who I feel will grow into a brilliant character.
When i first listened to this book i immediately loved it. The narration was excellent and the writing left me wanting more. I could not get enough of the series.
Gin Blanco is one of the best characters that I've come across. She is TOUGH, FUNNY AND VUNERABLE. At first glance, you may think she is just another assassin, but keep listening and you will find out what a complex character she is. She will fight to protect the people she loves, or will die trying. Finnegan Lane is pure heaven in the book. He adds a comedic balance to Gin's hard core edge. The characters are great - and you will be on the edge of your seat listening to what happens next.
Jennifer Estep has started an absolutely wonderful series.
I enjoy reading many books genres. But I love listening to fantasy books.
I am currently listening to book 3 in this series. It is a good series, dealing with some meaty personal issues from the perspective of the main character. I like the unique magic angle (elemental magic). And the narrator is good. I feel like there are parts which are repetitive. The author reminds the readers too much what has happened before or how the main character thinks/feels, even within the same book. Without the repetitiveness, this would be a five-star book.
Gin has confidence and is not in constant shame of herself.
Most books like this have a self loathing star. this one is blissfully okay with the work so whining about herself is absent.
Both in short bursts that are well timed
the first of a series and sets it up well
After several hours I found the trick - set the narrator's speed to at least 1.25, then you can listen relatively comfortably without falling asleep.
Seriously, the story is good but the southern sleepy drawl drags the story down so that it's hard to really stay with it. My attention kept being pulled away, even when I was sitting still with no distractions, let alone driving or shopping. I've been in the south most of my life and...never... heard... anyone... t..a..l..k... t..h..a..t... s..l..o..w..l..y. While the accent is good, the pace is not.
Overall, the story is interesting. There are sex scenes and language that might concern some. Thankfully this is not a romance novel disguised as urban fantasy as many are but I really do like Patricia Briggs who can spin a great story without resorting to descriptive sex. I haven't been interested in reading that since I was a teen.
Fun, entertaining tale of fire, ice, stone and air elementals with some dwarves and vampires mixed in. Set in a kind of rednecksville south where there seems to be an overabundance of violent sexual predators, pedofiles and wife beating husbands. Gin, the 'hero' in our story is an assassin who apparently only kills the bad guys (REALLY BAD guys). She tends to go on about the color of her eyes, how she got the scars on her hands, how her family was killed, how she ended up on the street with nothing and is now pulling in millions of dollars in fees for assassinations...over and over. Once I know how she got the scars, is it important to hear it more than once? It's not like she was ever describing it to another character, but literally describing it to the 'reader' several times. Need to make a page or word count?
It's a mindless listen on a lazy afternoon - not bad, not great either...just meh...
Say something about yourself!
Bought on Audible
Read for Group: BBA on Goodreads
What I Loved: Gin! What a fantastic leading lady. She is tough yet vulnerable, has hobbies (cooking, taking classes), has friends (Fin, JoJo, Sophia), and has a kick ass ability that she does not overuse. I think that last thing was the most surprising but delightfully refreshing trait of all. I really loved her from the get-go and that is unusual for me in UF! She was just very well rounded and you could relate to her.
What I Liked: I really liked that I didn't quite parse out the whole story in advance. It is always fun when you can follow a case along and piece together things as the character does. I saw a few things coming but most of it was a mystery. The story played out in a very well paced way.
Audio Specific Review: The story was narrated by Lauren Fortgang and she does an excellent job. There were only a few voices that I thought were a little off but overall it was a fantastic job.
Why I gave it a 3.75: This was a fantastic beginning to an Urban Fantasy novel. I usually don't get sucked in so quickly in UF but I am really looking forward to listening to the rest of the series.
Who I would recommend this too: Urban Fantasy Fans
alot less F words and the spider should be less brash.
the story or idea of the spider and elementals is great. But she needs to be softer with a quiet intelligence. No need for her to be abrasive, cheap and shocking, since she's so much smarter than that.
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