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)
I am embarrassed to admit that I purchased most of this series - hoping against hope that it would get thicker. By the time you have read the third book you have reheard the first and second books twice...the retelling does not help. Ms. Estep has a great idea here, I love the duality with our own world, but....well I want a whole story, not a rehash of what has been before...In all I would suggest read a couple, maybe towards the end, (you won't miss anything), then move on to something new.
The narrator speaks so slowly and with a southern accent that grates on my nerves. Didn't pass the "10 minute test". I don't know who the audience is - there's sex and violence (adult readers) but a childish tone and plot.
Slow southern accent with random pauses.
Reviewing Romance & Urban Fantasy
Wow. Any book that starts with the heroine stabbing someone in the balls is a book for me!
Spider’s Bite starts with a thrill ride that you find yourself riding through out the whole book. Like all great roll coasters there are not just ups and downs but there are a few loopy-de-loops and twists and turns just like the plot of this excellent Urban Fantasy tale that Estep was crafted.
If you are a fan of the Urban Fantasy genre then you know that they can be dark and gritty, some more than others. Spider’s Bite is very dark with a high body count but it also has a little something for the smexy fans as well. Estep has done an awesome job in creating a kick ass heroine that’s dirty and not just in the hardcore kick ass way. Sure Gin gets dirty and bloody doing her job but she also knows the value of getting dirty in a broom closet by having hot monkey sex. BRAVO to Estep for knowing that a hard core chick needs her fun sweaty time too.
So when Gin’s not in broom closets having the sex, she is an assassin for hire that is known by her nick name, The Spider. All the great assassins have one and they all have meaning to them. Gin’s means that she knows how to hide in the shadows and wait for her prey to come to her before she strikes them down with her knife.
There are different types of elementals in this world; air, fire, stone, ice, etc. Gin happens to wield both stone and ice, even though stone is the stronger of the two for her. But when Gin finds herself without a knife she can make a handy ice stake for a weapon that works just as well as her knife in a pinch.
I know what you’re thinking. How can you root for an assassin? Even though Gin kills people for money, she has standards. All of her hits are on bad guys; like rapists and murders. Think of her as an exterminator, she takes out the low life and trash.
In Spider’s Bite we follow Gin, on her mission to clear her name and hand out revenge on a client that has framed her for the murder that she was hired after. But the kicker is, Gin didn't get to finish the job.
Gin has a handler named Fletcher; he’s more than a handler, he’s like a father to her. He took her off the streets after her whole family died at the hand of a fire elemental when she was just a kid. Fletcher is a retired assassin that is the owner and cook at the Pork Pit, a B-B-Q restaurant where Gin works part time when she’s not busy killing people.
While Gin is trying to find out who framed her, she gets closer to one of police detectives in town, Donovan Cane. Who just happens to be the partner of a bad cop that Gin assassinated for raping and beating a young girl. But Donovan being the good cop doesn't know that his partner was a rapist and believes that Gin assassinated him just for sh*ts and giggles and he has been hunting her ever since his partner’s death. But once he meets her all he can think about is getting her naked.
And like most heroine, Gin has a side kick like character, Finn. Finn is Flecther’s son and like a bother to Gin, a smoking hot bother that she once slept with (when they were young and stupid, her words not mine). Finn is great for comic relief with his snarky comments. He is a solid member of Gin’s team. He is always there for her and her for him, and he is a total man whore.
I HIGHLY recommend Spider’s Bite to any Urban Fantasy fan that loves reading about a kick ass chick that has way too knives and knows how to make a mean .
Narration Note: Lauren Fortgang is now on my favorite narrator list. She does an amazing job with Gin. She has a smokey voice is great for the gritty feel of urban fantasy and she can take Gin’s voice from bad ass to 1-900 sex line worker from 0-60 when it’s needed in the plot. I feel like her male characters could be a little more deeper but she still does a good job with him.
Disciple of the written word and Audible fanatic. I am an Urban and Epic Fantasy Fan. I also enjoy some Paranormal Romance.
I have been looking at this title for a few years. Finally I purchased it in a sale. I am hooked on the series now. The author has a good sense of humor. No time is wasted on tangent information. And the story moved right along. I will definitely be buying the rest the series. Thank you Audible for making titles like this available at a lower price. I would never have tried this series if it hadn't been on sale.
After listening to the first book in this series, I'm now hooked! Gin is an intriguing character- with so much to offer readers. I can't wait to listen to the other books in this series. The narrator is also fantastic with her southern accent!
This book was fast paced and fun. I found it in the Romantic Fantasy category, but I would caution that it is more urban fantasy adventure. The actual relationship that might be considered romantic, I would consider a sexual attraction, and at any rate, it wasn't at all the main focus of the book. There is surprisingly little sex in the book, however. Instead, there's the morally ambiguous Gin, an assassin you come to love, whose out to clean up a mess that has hit close to home. She has friends who aid her, villains of the worst sort, and lots and lots of action.
I listen to lots of audio books and this one is top notch. It has something for every fan of fantasy/sci-fi books. The characters are interesting and well written. The narrator is superb. Being from the south, its nice to hear a southern drawl that isn't exaggerated and over done. I recommend this book to everyone. Loved this book and look forward to listening to more of the series.
when i saw this book i thought ok id give it a try. was i ever surprised. not only are the characters interesting but the book almost had me enthralled. it normally takes me about a week to listen to a 10 hour book due to the driving that i do.(only listen while i drive) finished it in 2 days. could not stop listening.and no i didnt drive more then usual.very worth the listen. getting ready to get the next 2 now....cant wait
My pic says it all. That's my dog and he is really barking for me to throw another snowball. Scary looks but really just a playful guy by nature. Been reading sf/fantasy like a power nerd my whole life which is almost 50 years now. I like all sorts of stuff just make the story believable...
The story was just short of average with huge plot holes throughout. The psychotic lead needed a bullet in the head as far as I was concerned. Every character in the entire book was a bad apple and seemed to be a child beating rapist. Shouldn't every book have a least one character that is worth bonding with.
Another thing that always drives me crazy in books like this is how they have these incredible powers but still ignore them. It just does not make any sense. "Oh, I'm a powerful and rare stone elemental but really don't want to ever use my power", get real.
If you are super bored and there is nothing else in your library then put this on. Ignore the nasty characters, redundant descriptions, huge plot holes and try to get your commute finished.
I agree that the narrator has an AMAZING voice for Gin. The problem is that she read everything in the same slow, monotone, emotionless way. Whether describing the scenery, a hit, her family's death... it all was the exact same pace, with no inflection. I really wanted to get into the story, but I kept zoning out and having to go back and re-listen to parts. After an hour and a half, I couldn't keep going anymore. The story didn't hook me yet either, but it wasn't that far into the book. Also, the super slow pace and lack of energy and emotion definitely made it harder to connect to Gin. But, there hadn't been a whole lot of character development so far either, and very little to be invested in yet. Maybe that would've gotten better. I'll never know though, since I'm returning the book.
The lack of energy and acting in the narration.
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