Author: Jennifer Estep
Reviewer: Jen Twimom
Opening in present day, shortly after the events of the ninth Elemental Assassin story, Heart of Venom, Gin Blanco tells her lover, Owen, the gritty details of the events that solidified her place as the deadly assassin, the Spider. The story fades to a time ten years in the past, when Gin is just starting to make a reputation for herself as the Spider. She’s still living at home with Fletcher, working in the Pork Pit, and struggling to find a bit of independence. When a job comes in that Fletcher is hesitant to accept, Gin pushes to take it. Among other things, it’s rumored that the target, Cesar Vaughn, beats his thirteen year-old daughter, Charlotte. This makes it personal for Gin, and she convinces Fletcher to take the gig. As she gets to know her target, she accidentally meets Cesar’s son, Sebastian Vaughn, and falls head over heels.
Every time I open up an Elemental Assassin story, and The Spider is no exception, I am blown away by the intricate details of each setting. I am immediately transported into the scene, fighting and cooking along side Gin. Ms. Estep is an amazing storyteller who writes a detailed descriptive scene like few others. Never too many words or overdone, she weaves a visual masterpiece so perfectly described, that I sit in awe and appreciation.
The Spider is a different story than its predecessors in that the primary tale predates the series by several years. I love how the book opens in present time, and I adore getting a glimpse of Gin and Owen “back to normal” after the events from the past few books. However, the primary story is that of Gin’s past. Like the other books in the series, The Spider reads in Gin’s first person POV, so there is a level of familiarity and comfort. However… This is NOT the Gin I’ve come to love. She is young and immature. So much so, that it truly bothered me. She is blatantly obtuse, blinded by her personal agenda to protect Charlotte. She misses so many obvious clues that would have told her she was going down the wrong path. Honestly, it made it hard for me to get into the story because I was annoyed with her oblivious and immature nature.
However, isn’t that the point?! We are reading a story told from the perspective of a newbie, not the seasoned assassin Gin will become. So in that respect, Ms. Estep does a fabulous job creating a new Gin – a younger version of herself who has potential, but needs to learn a lot before she gets there. While I commend the author on a fabulous job, it still annoyed me, preventing me from completely enjoying the story.
I also have to mention another little thing that set me off while reading the book… several key characters – people important to Gin in the future – make cameo appearances in The Spider. It felt a bit like when I watched The Phantom Menace after growing up loving the original Star Wars Trilogy. Some of the characters were fun to see, and it made sense (or didn’t feel out of place) to see them about town. However, there were a couple that really felt forced, and it bothered me.
Regardless of the minor troubles I had reading the first half to two-thirds of the story, the last third of the book ROCKED! It starts when Charlotte confronts Gin about her father’s death. Gin’s simple, straight forward reply was perfect, and it made me sit up taller and take notice. This is the moment when the Spider is truly born. And from that point forward, Gin owns the story. She grows up and gets smart. I enjoyed reading her thoughts as she plots out her revenge. I admired her fortitude as she comes up against the toughest opponent of her life. Not only is her enemy strong, but a master of emotional and mental manipulation, making the battle more gritty and gutsy. Ah – so, so great!! The final battles are some of the best Ms. Estep has written, giving readers a gripping, smart and simply sublime finish.
All in all, I am once again pleased with Ms. Estep’s work. While The Spider wasn’t my favorite story in the series, the last third was on par with all of the recent Elemental Assassin books. And I give the author credit – she truly captures Gin’s transformation from an assassin to the Spider in every regard. While it was really well done, unfortunately, that is also what made it hard for me to get into the story for most of the book. But once Gin owned the truth, the story jumped to life. It was absolutely wonderful.
How did I end up in a career where I always have blood on my hands? Well, let me tell you a story about an assassin who thought she could do no wrong…
Ten years ago. A blistering hot August night. I remember like it was yesterday. The night I, Gin Blanco, truly became the Spider. Killing people is what I do best, especially now that I’ve honed my Ice and Stone magic. But back then, I had yet to learn one very important rule: arrogance will get you, every single time.
This particular job seemed simple: murder a crooked building contractor with ties to ruthless Fire elemental Mab Monroe. My mentor, Fletcher Lane, had some misgivings, but I was certain that I had the situation under control… right up until I exposed my weaknesses to a merciless opponent who exploited every single one of them. There’s a reason assassins aren’t supposed to feel anything. Luckily, a knife to the heart can fix that problem, especially when I’m the one wielding it…
Release Date: December 24, 2013
Publisher: Pocket Books
Series: Elemental Assassin #10
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format(s): Paperback (400 pages), e-book, audiobook
Book Source: Edelweiss
The Spider (Elemental Assassin #10)
Reviews in the Series:
Spider’s Revenge by Jennifer Estep (Elemental Assassin #5)
Thread of Death by Jennifer Estep (Elemental Assassin #5.5)
By a Thread by Jennifer Estep (Elemental Assassin #6)
Widow’s Web by Jennifer Estep (Elemental Assassin #7)
Deadly Sting by Jennifer Estep (Elemental Assassin #8)
Kiss of Venom by Jennifer Estep (Elemental Assassin #8.5)
Heart of Venom by Jennifer Estep (Elemental Assassin #9)