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Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin, Bk 1)
Spider's Bite - Elemental Assassin, Bk 1
Author: Jennifer Estep
My name is Gin, and I kill people. 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 ...  more »
PBS Market Price: $8.09 or $4.19+1 credit
ISBN-13: 9781439147979
ISBN-10: 1439147973
Publication Date: 1/26/2010
Pages: 395
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

4 stars, based on 211 ratings
Publisher: Pocket
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
Members Wishing: 0
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

mreneerouser avatar reviewed Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin, Bk 1) on + 127 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
The main character in this book is one of my new favorites. She is tough, gritty, strong, and at the same time, she is loving, compassionate, and most of all, loyal.

Gin is an elemental assassin. She can manipulate stone and ice. Her use of magic, while sometimes necessary, is not her strength. Her strength comes from knowing when to use the magic and when to use her street smarts (much she learned from her handler and her handler's son). She is the best at what she does- being an assassin. She is also a wounded soul that doesn't trust anyone and uses her tough exterior to hide her true self.

My only complaint is the ending. It felt like a let-down. It was okay but considering how strong the writing, and story telling was in the beginning, I expected so much more at the end. Regardless, if you like characters like Cat in Halfway to the Grave, you'll love Gin!

This is an urban fantasy but does have one very steamy scene!
WestofMars avatar reviewed Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin, Bk 1) on + 162 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
Originally posted at http://rockread.westofmars.com

When I'd heard that Jennifer Estep had a new series in the works, a darker series that was going to feature an assassin, I was conflicted. First was the sorrow at the end of the Bigtime series. It's a fun series, full of humor and a fictional world so vivid, I'd move to Bigtime if I could. After only three books, I wanted more. The potential characters were there. They just had to get a book contract so they could come to life.
It's okay, I ws told. Just wait, I was promised. The Elemental series will kick Bigtime's butt.

It does. It is darker, as promised, and the delicious absurdities of Bigtime have been smoothed out. Yet names still have matching initials, Fiona Fine makes an appearance in passing, and Estep's narrative voice -- this time in the guise of Gin Blanco, aka the Spider -- still rocks.

The plot's pretty standard: the bad guys tie our heroine up in a double-cross and she's got to untangle it. Important people die. There's a love interest.

But, as happens in all the best books, nothing is this easy. Gin may be an assassin, but she's got a conscience. Our romantic interest has got one, too -- only his gives him trouble (and really, when was the last time we saw this happen? A man? Really? A lot of fiction would have you believe men lack consciences.) and gets in the way of romance.

That's okay, though. Gin's too busy to be swooning over the good detective. Much. It's a good balance our girl gets going, and it all makes sense at the time. Decisions that would seem stupid if I wrote them here work.

A couple of things truly impress me with this series-starter. One is the world-building. Estep knocked it out of the park with Bigtime, and she takes it a step further with Ashland. We've got dwarves, vamps, giants -- and people who can control the elements: air, fire, water, and stone -- an interesting twist on the familiar Earth magic. It is this magic of Gin's that provides a low, humming resonance to the book.

Gin's got an unusual hobby, as well. Part of her cover is as a college student, so she amuses herself by taking, among other things, cooking classes. Our heroine rises above the stereotype of the working woman (always with a completely empty refrigerator) and has her place stashed. Not only is her larder full, so's her knowledge of what to do with those foods. It fits, as the other part of her cover is a part-time employee of the Pork Pit (note those repeating initials!). While she may not whip up barbecue at home, she's comfortable with a kitchen. And with knives (that's her joke, not mine).

Again, this is a series starter that I could go on and on about. Estep gets how sleazy the true forces behind a city's scenes can be, and she puts that on display. Mab Monroe is a character with huge potential; I hope Gin interacts on a more direct scale with her as the series progresses. I hope Ashland continues to evolve and become a character in its own right.

I hope... I hope... I hope.

I hope I can make it to March and the release of Web of Lies.
Catherine1 avatar reviewed Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin, Bk 1) on + 60 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
I think one of my favorite things about this story was Gin's outlook on her job as an assassin. There wasn't chapter upon chapter of internal angsting about her morals and her career choice. She's an assassin because it doesn't bother her and she's good at it.

The author did a really good job of making Gin competent. Too often I find that authors paint their protagonists as the best things ever, but when it comes to showing how clever or smart or competent that character is they fail miserably. That's not the case here. Gin knows how to compartmentalize. When she's working, she's really working. She's doesn't cry over the people she's supposed to kill, she just does it (and does it rather impressively too). If she has a boundary she won't cross she chooses those lines before she picks a job.

Now, Gin's competence doesn't mean she's invulnerable. Just like anyone else, she can be talked into rushing a job for a big score. She has regrets and she has feelings, even if she never shows you them. She's pragmatic and willing to live in the moment. She knows that assassin's don't have a very long shelf life and she accepts that. She does have a weakness in the form of her past. Well, I guess it's not really a weakness, more like an area that eats at her. I'm looking forward to learning more about that.

I also really like how Gin has developed a skill beyond her magic. She won't trust it blindly and she'd rather rely on her trained skill sets. I liked that in the end all her issues with her magic weren't solved.

I thought the side characters were well done too. I think the person that we learned the least about was Detective Donovan Caine. I don't know if I like him or not. On one hand, I appreciate the fact that he struggled with his attraction to Gin and his personal and professional revulsion of her job. I don't like when characters abandon their morals for no reason, so watching him struggle was nice. On the other hand, I really didn't like that he looked down on Gin so much. I felt he was overwhelmingly judgmental toward someone who was keeping him breathing. I know she wanted his help too, but he got way more out of that deal than she did. I didn't understand their attraction to each other and I don't think they fit very well together.

I really liked Finn's character. Truthfully, I wish he and Gin were set up as a potential couple instead of her and Donovan. They had such a great dynamic together. Even though he and Gin joke about him doing anything for money, you can feel that he'd do anything for Gin and his father. Speaking of his father, for all his short page time alive he really felt like a well developed character. Gin's memories of him helped fill in his character and made me care for him right along with Gin and Finn.

I waffled between choosing 4 stars and 5 stars for my grade. I thought it was a great book and it kept me very entertained, but I also thought the middle dragged a bit. In the end I decided to just go for 5 because I can excuse a few awkward parts for a really fun read.
Bookfanatic avatar reviewed Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin, Bk 1) on
Helpful Score: 2
Amazing! This book hooks you from the first page. It's the start of a very promising paranormal series unlike other books in the genre. The main character is very smart, feisty and tough. She can take care of herself, but she also has vulnerabilities. The plot is well thought out. There are quirky secondary characters. The town itself is a character given how different it is from towns in modern America.

This is not one of those stories where the plot is weak and the paranormal is overpowering. Both are equally strong. I'm looking forward to reading more books in the Elemental Assassin series.
seemichelleread avatar reviewed Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin, Bk 1) on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
As a teenager, Gin Blanco lost her family to a brutal attack which left her homeless, friendless, and running scared. All that changed after she met Fletcher, the kind owner of a local BBQ joint, the Pork Pit. Fletcher got Gin back on her feet by wiping away her fear with the knowledge of how to make a killer sandwich and how to protect herself and those she loves. Years later, she's become a tough assassin, known as the Spider, with a killer record. And if her sharp knives don't do the trick, Gin's ace in the hole happens to be an affinity for stone, making her a rare and dangerous elemental.

After agreeing to a risky contract which ends up going south, Gin quickly finds herself fighting tooth and nail to protect those she loves while trying to stay alive herself. But the only way she's going to make it out alive in the corrupt and brutal city of Ashland is by aligning herself with by-the-book Detective Donovan Caine. Which can only complicate matters since said easy-on-the-eyes Detective happens to loathe every single aspect of Gin's chosen profession. Figures.

Jennifer Estep has created an intriguing new world in her latest series Elemental Assassin. As a dangerous and corrupt city with dirty cops ready to look the other way, Ashland reminds me of a southern Gotham City with an added bonus of powerful magic. Though equipped with an appealing world-building concept, I struggled throughout to connect with Gin as a character. Even in the face of tragedy, I never really felt that her grief was genuine. Sad to say, her narrative often seemed forced and quite repetitive. I often found myself hearing Gin describe the same types of scenes over and over again. Her enemies were always "sloppy, sloppy, sloppy" and every description of the attractive Detective Caine ended with "Mmm." While I'll give you that a good lookin' man can be mouth watering, I don't need the blatant reminder every time he pops up. Though I did catch a glimmer of chemistry between Gin and Caine, their awkward exchanges tended to leave me surprisingly uncomfortable and a little iffy on their couple-potential more often than not. Which can only be described as unfortunate since Gin's story really had the potential for becoming a honest and hard-hitting UF series. Spider's Bite, while fast and gritty, ultimately failed to deliver on the entertainment front for this reader.

On a side note, I am actually totally digging this cover. In a Urban Fantasy market awash of books that have no relation whatsoever to their story, the cover art for Spider's Bite is refreshingly accurate, and really eye-catching.
Read All 21 Book Reviews of "Spiders Bite Elemental Assassin Bk 1"

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reviewed Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin, Bk 1) on + 14 more book reviews
Fantastic book and and start of a series that promises to just get better. The characters are well-written, making it easy for the reader to relate to their lives. I liked the fact that the main character, even as skilled as she is in her profession, isn't always successful in her endeavors. Great characters, great writing and a world I look forward to exploring more.
tarheelcoin avatar reviewed Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin, Bk 1) on + 84 more book reviews
Just another paranormal romance with Gin, the main character, lusting after "irresistibly rugged Detective Donovan Caine". Pretty standard stuff.
reviewed Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin, Bk 1) on + 503 more book reviews
More urban fantasy/mystery/action than romance. Don't let the "her love life is killer" tag line fool you.

This book reminded me of the very early Anita Blake books by Laurell K Hamilton (before Anita started having sex). There's a lot of fighting, blood, and general badass-ness and not much romance. It's occasionally sexy but not romantic. Also because the story is written in the first person, there's a bit of a campy feel to the action and scenes: Gin describing her own actions - it sometimes feels a bit silly. Also Gin's description of herself, not quite as dorky as LKH with Anita Blake ("my creamy white breasts"), but pretty goofy "my beautiful gray eyes stared into his golden ones". Cheese. And the use of "mmmm" got old the second time I read it but she used it about 100 times in the book.

Initially I found the book a little boring and couldn't figure out how this story got such great reviews. I forced myself to finish and was glad I did because the ending and the wrap-up to the story was worth the read. I enjoyed how Jennifer Estep also left things hanging for the sequels but still provided an ending that was a satisfying conclusion to this phase of Gin's life.

Overall, not sure Elemental Assassin is my kind of series, as I prefer the scales to tip toward romance rather than action and blood, but I think if you like the reverse, you will really enjoy this series. A very good start.

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