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)
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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.
OK, started out really really slow, got better about 1/2 way thru, but still not understanding all the great reviews...guess it just depends on ones tastes in books.
Middle of the pack. Nothing to set it apart either among the best or worst.
The beginning. Really, that was a fabulous hook. What followed, however, was also memorable in the opposite sense -- it bored me to the point that I wished it would be over already. About 5-6 hours in it picked up again for me.
The main character. She can do raspy very well, and some nice drawls, but there wasn't a lot of character distinction for me. Still though, she has a lovely voice and the audio portion was pleasant.
The author has an issue with repetition. Yes, I know Gin's eyes are grey. I know the detective's eyes are hazel/gold/amber/other colorful and descriptive synonyms. I know Fletcher's son (what's-his-name) has green eyes. You do not need to tell me this every single time you mention someone's eyes. It went from irritating to frustrating to making me feel apathetic every time it was mentioned.
Also, the chemistry between the detective and Gin felt flat and uninspired at parts. I understand this is likely categorized as romance, but if you can't fit in a developing relationship within a book in such a way as to fittingly lead to sex, DON'T TRY. Leave it for the next book.
Overall it was decent enough that I might pick up the next one if nothing better catches my attention, but nothing special to me.
No story other than killing. nothing personal about the character at all,. dont waste your credit or dollars.
Haven't read the book but the narrators voice and accent really make the story come to life.
When Gin rescued Finn.
Her amazing voice and accents.
Made me wish it would never end but am so glad there is a series.
This story adds a whole new angle to supernatural stories, it is refreshingly different.
I just love to read but seems like I'm always driving. Audible made it possible to do both. Now my poor radio in my car hasn't been used in a long time. More outrageous the story the better. I read to take a brake from life not to start thinking about it.
Definitely! Estep has the knack for having a nice balance of seriousness, sarcasm, romance and reality reality that lets you just fall into her world and connect with the main character (even if your not an assassin yourself).
Definitely one for my
Gin/ Spider... Just love her
It would be even between Gin (she soooo make it her own) and FINNEGAN LANE (he turns out so suave and perfect with his description)!
Luck is a capricious bitch!
I've actually read the books... But Lauren Fortgang does such a great job with the voices... It was worth it!
Haven't read the print version. I like hearing the characters,
Her working in the Pork Pit and bantering with Fletcher and Quinn.
A unforgettable series that will keep you coming back for more!
This was a series I started with a promotion from Audible! After the first book I was hooked and didn't stop until I blazed through all of them!!!
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!!?
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