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)
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.
I really loved this series!! The storyline really kept my interest and loved "Gin Blanco's" wit. The characters were very well rounded and vulnerable at the same time. Can't wait for the next of any series by Jennifer Estep.
Now the narrator......I LOVED Lauren Fortgang. I wasn't sure at first with the southern accent, so many tend to drop them half way through and then pick them up again, but Lauren Fortgagng kept it going and was terrific. She now has a place in my favorite narrators book along with Xe Sands, Tavia Gilbert, Hilary Huber, Amanda Ronconi, Justine Eyre and Gabra Zackman just to name a few. If Lauren can do a honest to goodness Cajun accent, I would love to hear her read the Adrian Phoenix's Maker Series.
Great writing and narrating you two!!!!
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 paid for it. Is it wrong to listen to a whole story only for that reason?
It's the only thing that has gotten me through this book anyway. I hope for the sake of anyone who chooses to go on with the rest of the series that the author doesn't continue to remind you every couple of chapters that Gin looks at things with her grey eyes... Nobody ever describes the colour or their own eyes when they are looking at something. Let alone every single time. It's irritating. Self-absorbed.
There's a difference between a strong character, and a boastful, arrogant character. I found myself rolling my eyes over and over again when Gin was going on about her own endless awesomeness. Sorry, I found myself rolling my BLUE eyes over and over again... (You can see how that's irritating, yes?) Not to mention how often she repeats herself about where she keeps her five knives, how the spider runes ended up on her hands, and the exact same aspects of different characters' appearances . There's no need to remind your readers of trivial details over and over again.
Bad writing is even worse when it's read out loud.
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
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 like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)
It is a decent addition to this genre: kick-butt heroine with a troubled past and a difficult "career". Gin doesn't even spend time whining about stuff, which is (pleasantly) out of the ordinary in this genre.
Are there problems? Sure... Gin is supposedly a high-calibre assassin and yet there are several scenes where she is nearly defeated because she behaved in ways an expert assassin wouldn't. The "angst" between her and Caine is based exclusively on a misunderstanding... we're given a reason as to why Gin doesn't clarify things with Caine, but this reason changes as the book progresses and neither of the reasons provided seem very believable.
But, of course, this angst is what allows them to have some quick sex but not get saddled in a relationship with each other. There are many more references to sex than actual sex scenes (only one) and I think there could have been a bit more sex, and maybe a bit less angst, but anyway, it was decently handled. The narration was excellent.
Overall, I liked the characters and the world they live in. And I'll be starting the next one immediately. Oh, and while the settings are quite different, Richelle Mead's Succubus series has a similar feel to this one.
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!
Loved this series, got all four audio books at once and was done in 3 days, I just couldn't stop listening. Lauren Fortgang was a wonderful narrater, I loved her voice, make the book easy to listen too.
Good storyline, lots of visual words, which some don't like, but I do, it adds to the story for me..
Hoping for book 5 sooooooon...
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
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