Kitt's Reviews > Spider's Bite

Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep
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's review
Jul 13, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: read-2010, urban-fantasy, books-i-own
Read from April 23 to 24, 2010 — I own a copy

Spider's Bite is Jennifer Estep's debut novel in the Elemental Assassins series, though, this isn't her first time around the block. She also has the Bigtime series about different women coming into their superpowers. However, I didn't actually know all of that until recently. This is another one of those series that grabbed me by the cover. An alone assassin with spider scars burned into her palm, standing outside of BBQ joint called the "Pork Pit"?? I'm intrigued....

In Jennifer Estep's Elemental Assassins series the world is not too far different than ours. Life is led normally, for the most part, except things take on different meanings. Building icons or logos mean something far different here. Everything and everyone has a rune that says who they are and what they can do, even from a small age. There are plenty of beasties that populate the world and the city of Ashland. Dwarves, giants, vampires and elementals all rub elbows with the human population. Most are born and have always been. Vampires walk the day and usually end up as a streetwalker or a pimp and don't possess the usual long life and inhuman strength, but the blood lust is still there. Elementals climb highest on the food chain, wielding-fire, ice, stone and air. Keeping them all in line is of the most simple and obvious of solutions. Guns. Even elementals have their limitations.

Gin is a waitress at the "Pork Pit" during the day, but at night, she lives a far different lifestyle. Gin is an assassin. One of the very best in her field. The choice of her name and rune was easily made by the scars burned into both hands. She's called 'The Spider' and like her namesake, she kills with patience and stealth. She has some morals though, but there aren't many that she follows:

"No kids, no pets, no torture, no framing someone else for what I did"

Gin's cold, calculating and lethal, all good qualifications in her line of work. She's also an elemental. Her element is stone (a rare ability), that allows her to feel the vibrations of the live element sing through her veins and manipulate it to her will, but she also has a second weaker affinity for ice as well, giving her the power to cool drinks, make ice cubes, and other small objects.

When she was thirteen, her entire life and family was literally caught up in flames by a fire elemental. Someone had wanted her dead, enough to take out everything it their way. She escaped, but only to a life on Ashland's cruel city streets. Until luck, in it's twisted way, smiled upon her. Leading her in the direction of a barbecue joint owned by Fletcher Lane. He took her in and showed her the tricks of his trade. Flecher became her friend, a father figure, and a mentor all in one. He's also her handler and Gin get's all her clients through him. He's been on her case to retire lately, though, but Gin scoffs at the idea. What else would she do? This is her life. This is what she knows. What she's good at. All she's ever done for the last seventeen years. She has no intentions towards retirement. Fletcher let's her have her way. Except, after this last assignment, she's going to wish she had listened.

Gin gets shoved into a twisted game. She's hired to kill Gordon Giles. He's an embezler of millions and an unkown source wants his life. Gin knows it's not the queen bee herself, Mab Monroe. A woman that has Ashland under her thumb and president of Halo Industries, the company Giles so thoughtlessly decided to skim from. Everyone knows the fire elemental isn't afraid to take care of her own dirty work. The thought of who hired her is only a fleeting one, though. Gin isn't being paid a five million dollar fee -which is twice her usual fee- to ask questions and pushes all thoughts of it aside. She goes about her usual preparations. Though, right when Gin, hidden in the shadows of the old opera house, has her crossbow trained at Giles heart, Donovan Caine-straight arrow cop, enters and seats himself next to him. Gin's mild obsession with the detective from months forming causes her to drop her guard and it costs her. It seems another assassin has been dispatched to take her out and frame her for murder.

Turn of events force Gin into action. Revenge becomes the objective mission. Nobody double-crosses her, messes with her family and still lives to tell the tale. Gin is pissed and pissing off an assassin such as her is their first mistake. Along the way, Gin's path crosses again with Detective Caine, when men are sent to stop his unwanted questions and silence him forever, the same men Gin is looking for. Donovan Caine, though, is on his own mission of revenge against the person responsible for his partners murder a couple months back. Gin needs Donovan's information on Giles, but sees no reason not to tell him the truth of her involvement in his partners death to focus him. Donovan now has a reason to loathe Gin, but he's going to need her help to stay alive, and so against his very nature, he's forced into a strained truce with her. With Finnegan Lane -Fletcher Lane's sons- help, the three of them seek out the ones responsible. Taking them on a course steeped in dirty cops and crazy-power hungry villains.

Spider's Bite was exactly everything I think an urban fantasy should be. It's opening was an explosion that grabbed my attention from the very first page and kept it through action-packed twisting turns. Gin is methodical and persistent in her search. I spent a good amount of time trying not to like her in all her chilling ways, but I just can't. She's not bothered at all by the killing of other beings for a price. Blood doesn't disturb her and is easily washed away. She'll even do pro-bono killings for the right reason. However, I have much respect for her. She does have feelings hiding in her cold heart. Although, her morals list is short, she sticks by them. She never goes back on her word. I want to know more about her, what makes her tick and what she'll do next. When I finished Spider's Bite I had so many questions, that will no doubt be laid out a little at a time, and I'm anticipating to enjoy every minute of it. Jennifer Estep has captured my attention and created a series that I'll be impatiently waiting for with each new installment.
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