• Spider's Bite

  • Elemental Assassin, Book 1
  • By: Jennifer Estep
  • Narrated by: Lauren Fortgang
  • Length: 11 hrs and 59 mins
  • 4.0 out of 5 stars (4,699 ratings)

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Spider's Bite  By  cover art

Spider's Bite

By: Jennifer Estep
Narrated by: Lauren Fortgang
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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 listeners say about Spider's Bite

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Only because...

... 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.

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184 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

How I got to loathe the story

This book was one big cliche. The story was predictable. The characters were caricatured and without any depth.

I had quite a few laughs listening to this story. I do not think that it was intentional for the writer to make me laugh as reader/listener. And they were not laughs based on humour, more of a "I don't know what else to do" kinda laugh.

The constant use of...

"I looked at him with my grey eyes".
"His green eyes squinted"
"His hazel eyes met my grey steely eyes".

The description of the eyes kept popping up, and I was both laughing and thinking what a waste of my money each time it happened (and trust me it happens a lot). Who keeps describing herself looking at things with her eyes and the colour of her eyes? Noone.

it does not stop there:

"Guilt and grief racked my heart" is heard more than often.
"Cold rage in my heart" likewise.

The writer just tries too hard to make the persons in the story interesting and ends up making them shallow, and stupid.

Some might feel that the narrator is good. I am not one of them. Whenever she was trying to make someone sound sexy and persuasive they sounded like stupid braindead pornstars. When the rugged detective (and you will hear that a lot) is "talking" it sounds more like a person on drugs, than a person rugged and tough.

Add a story that is neither good nor interesting, and you get to waste a lot of hours you will never get back. None of the heroes or the main bad guys/girls have any flaws. They all belong in a model magazine.

I was left with a feeling of this becoming a teenage girl fantasy novel, and if that is your age you might enjoy this story. Everyone else should avoid it.

I will not be spending any more money of credits on this series, and you might be wondering why I bothered listening to the story until the end - if you have the answer please share because I do not know. Might be that I just hoped something remotely interesting would happen.

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104 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Entertainment

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.

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30 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Gin Blanco and the gang

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

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29 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

was i ever surprised

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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27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

I was amazed at all the positive reviews.

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.

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26 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Couldn't finish it

What disappointed you about Spider's Bite?

Nearly everything disappointed me about this. Repetitive, poor writing. I'm with Alex (another reviewer) - except I didn't think the purchase price was worth the waste of my time. If I heard 'my grey eyes' one more time...

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

disappointment that I'd wasted my money

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20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

I am bitten

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.

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Dreadful!

What disappointed you about Spider's Bite?

The narrator over-acted and grated on my nerves. Her voice sounded forced and unnatural. I could not get past the first two chapters.

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

NO

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19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

LOVED IT!!

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!

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19 people found this helpful