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 a book junkie...I read and enjoy a variety of stories, so please don't "define me" by one book or review! :)
I really enjoyed this book. It took me no time at all to be hooked, and by extension I have no doubt I'm going to be addicted to this series all the way through. The writing is good, I really came to like the main character, even if she is an assassin. (Who would have thought?) Though she absolutely does not kill anyone innocent...Gin is resourceful, tough, and wise enough to question herself and ponder NOT forgetting her heart. She has taken her place among my absolute favorite paranormal female heroines. Her background is well-introduced and solid enough...I also enjoyed the supporting characters who are well-fleshed out. I couldn't help but be a little drawn in by Finn, he cracks me up and is such a charmer! And Detective Caine is a bit of a mystery...an attractive character. Lauren Fortgang's narration is absorbing, compelling, and (IMO) spot on for the story. Her Appalacian-Southern accent really brings out the atmosphere and the feeling (vibe) of this book.
The Elemental Assassin series drew me in quickly, & since getting this book a few weeks ago I've gotten so hooked I'm now on the last book! While this isn't really a work of complex, deep meaning or earth-shattering literature, it is a great series - engaging and fun. Spider's Bite provides the groundwork for the series.. develops each of the characters just enough and tells their histories as relevant to the current situation. Action packed, with bits of humor, some
Spider, because she is a tough, strong female who, despite all the unspeakable things she's had to do manages to still maintain good, admirable qualities. I like Fletcher too, & although he's not the main character, he seems to have a past interesting enough that his story could become a series of its own as well!
hmm.. probably the scene where Gin/Spider recalls when she first came in contact with the guy who would take her in, raise her and serve as her mentor. Although, it's hard to pick just one favorite scene, as they all seem to flow into each other well enough that they're all really equally good and well-written.
I highly recommend this series.. especially if you enjoy authors such as Charlaine Harris, Molly Harper, Seanan Maguire.
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
I love books with strong women charachters and this one was one of the best i have listened to this year. The story is really engrossing but the narrator really makes it great! Cant wait to down load the second book. I wish all narrators were this good!
I came across this book by chance and I was mesmized within 5 minutes of the audiobook. I absolutely love Lauren Fortgang's narrating. Gin is a cold assassin in which I liked from the start. The story is rich, believeable, tense, and the supporting characters are just as fascinating as the main character. This, the first book lays the groundwork to an engrossing series and will have you on the seat of your pants.
Plus the intense Donovan Cain adds to the spice of the story
Good book and awesome narrator--a combination that kept me too entertained to put the ipod down. It's absolutely worth the circles under my eyes.
I have only listened to about a quarter of the book but had to write a review -- LOVE LOVE LOVE the narrator. The book pulls you in from the start - and I can not wait to finish it and get the next 2 books in the series!
How did this book get so many good reviews? There are no likable characters. There are huge plot holes. There is an incredible amount of redundancy. The inner dialog is laughable. I can't decide whether the narration was terrible or if it was just the lines she had to read that were terrible and anyone would have sounded ridiculous saying them. I had to make myself finish it. I love paranormal romance/mystery but this was just awful.
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.
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