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Editorial Reviews

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

Publisher's Summary

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.

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Jodie
  • Laurel, IN, United States
  • 01-30-13

Performance puts you to sleep

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

For anyone that is looking to relax and likes to take their time getting to through a story, this books for you. The story was good but the tempo/pace and deep voice of the reader just made it boring to me.

How could the performance have been better?

I actually changed my iPod speed to "faster" which helped for a while. It was just too slow.

  • Overall
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  • Sue
  • Tomerong
  • 01-21-13

Quite surprised

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I've had this one for quite a while in my library and finally decided to listen to it. It was surprisingly good. I'm looking forward to listening to the rest of the series when I get a chance.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Lisa
  • United States
  • 12-31-12

First couple chapters held my attention

But then it fizzled from there. Could not keep my attention after that. I found my mind roaming and having to rewind to listen again. After a few times of doing this I found it wasn't worth my time. Narrator was good just not my type of book.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Dorothy
  • Newburgh, NY, United States
  • 12-29-12

What a bite

Very fast pace filled with action and its a nail biter. I couldn't stop listening . Can't wait to read #2 in series

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Janel
  • Keizer, OR, United States
  • 12-26-12

Glad to find this series

The first part of this book gets started pretty slowly. The narrator talks slow, and it takes a bit for the story to get going. But stay with it! Once it gets moving a little, the story and narrator pick up pace. We start out getting hints of the main character's (Gin's) past, and get to know more and more of her a bit at a time. Meanwhile, she faces interesting adventures. In book 2, the hints and adventures continue.

The books have a unique set of characters, & provide a different and interesting use of dwarves, giants, vampires, & magic. This is the first book I've read with people as elementals, so I'm not sure how they compare to elementals in other books.

I'm glad a sale prompted me to take a chance on this book. I'm almost done with book #2 in the series - Web of Lies, and I just purchased book #3 - Venom. I'm looking forward to continuing the story.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • K. Payne
  • Cincinnati OH United States
  • 11-26-12

So excited to find another great series!

Any additional comments?

I have over 400 audio books (mostly series) and it's getting increasingly difficult to find a new series that I enjoy. I have quite a few "first" books marked in my list as "ok, could read if really need something new". It's not very often I find an established series that I truly enjoy! I love this one! I can't really explain why, but I'm on book 5 of the series now and have enjoyed every moment of the first four. Thank you!!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Entertaining. Will buy next book in series.

Do you think Spider's Bite needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

Oh, yes. So much more to find out about the lead character and two secondary characters.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Mike
  • Cheyenne, Wy, USA
  • 11-15-12

Not bad at all.

I enjoyed this story, I think it started a little slow, but over all it was good. The main character Gin is interesting enough that I am looking forward to listening to the next book in the series.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Nicole
  • Richmond, VA, United States
  • 10-14-12

Slow start but finished up nicely.

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Yes, it helps the day go by faster and it's a good listen.

What about Lauren Fortgang’s performance did you like?

Lauren's performance was good, she gave a different voice for each character.

Was Spider's Bite worth the listening time?

It was worth the time like I said before it starts slow but the second half of the book makes up for it.

Any additional comments?

You have an idea of who did it but you don't know the how and little of the why?

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Eventually, you'll care what happens

What did you like best about Spider's Bite? What did you like least?

I had the hardest time listening to the hard "g's" by the narrator. e.g. wrongah (wrong), longah (long), he was strongah. (is her last name Fortanga?) I didn't mind the quasi-southern accent. I even liked the interesting timbre of her voice. I just hated the hard g's. I live in the South and no one pronounces g's like that.
I wish Gin would have used her power more, practiced it, etc, instead of just ignoring it.
I listened to the end because the story was pretty good, despite some of the oddities.

Would you be willing to try another one of Lauren Fortgang’s performances?

NO!