Poison Promise: Ready to give up on this series

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fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsPoison Promise by Jennifer Estep urban fantasy book reviewsPoison Promise by Jennifer Estep

I’m not sure that I should continue reviewing Jennifer Estep’s ELEMENTAL ASSASSIN series. My goal has been to get the entire series reviewed for this website because that’s one of our visions for Fantasy Literature, (get everything reviewed), but it occurs to me that it might be pointless. This series gets high marks at GoodReads and Amazon, so why would anyone who’s interested in Poison Promise, book 11, be reading my reviews when I’ve been kind of down on these books for quite a while now? Fans of the series — those who are considering reading Poison Promise — are probably not coming here to get information. They’re probably reading reviews by other fans. Right? (Please correct me if I’m wrong by leaving a comment.)

So, I’ll just post some random thoughts here because: 1. Probably nobody considering reading this book cares what I think and 2. My reviews are getting as repetitive as the books are.

In Poison Promise Gin must vanquish another really nasty super-villain: Beauregard Benson, a baby-blue-Bentley-driving drug-dealing vampire. He is also a geeky mad scientist with stereotypical messy hair, glasses, and labcoat. He’s even got a pen and notepad in his pocket-protected shirt. He’s a cliché. Beauregard Benson is notorious around town, though, as far as I recall, he has not been mentioned in the previous 10 books).

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsBenson has the usual gang of thugs who conveniently broadcast their plans in public. (This is a nice service for Gin, but I really think Ashland’s underworld characters should get together at a HOW TO BE A SUPERVILLAIN symposium and have a workshop on “How to Get Your Minions to Keep Their Stupid Mouths Shut.”)

As usual, Benson captures and tortures someone close to Gin. (Actually, this time, it’s Gin herself.) Gin and friends have to get rid of him. There’s the usual big breakfast scene and the usual (boring samey-samey) sex scene. A series of flashbacks from Gin’s early life on the street was a nice touch.

There are lots of reminders about things we already know, but the language is not as repetitive as usual. Not as many mentions of silverstone knives, “violet on gray”, “sloppy, sloppy, sloppy,” “chicory coffee”, etc. For that reason alone, Poison Promise was much less irritating than previous books have been. Also, Estep took more care with the plot. She gives us reasons why characters do things that don’t seem to make sense, such as why Sylvio has to hire her to kill his boss, the mad scientist, instead of doing it himself. I didn’t believe in Sylvio’s explanation, but at least it was an attempt to address the plot problems.

At the end of the story we have two new major characters. One of these looks like he’ll be a great addition to Gin’s set of friends. The other looks like Mab Monroe 2.0. I’m worried that book 12 is basically going to be like starting the entire story over again. Gosh, I hope not.

The audio continues to be very good except that this time I really disliked Lauren Fortgang’s voice for the villain. I think she ran out of voices and did something really weird with the pacing, accent and breathiness to try to get Beauregard Benson to sound different from the other characters. It was annoying. Fortunately, I don’t think we’ll be hearing from Beauregard Benson ever again.


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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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11 comments

  1. Sandy Ferber /

    As any member of AA would tell you, Kat, it’s very important to FINISH your 12-Estep program! LOL!

  2. I admire your determination, but I think you’ve gone much farther than anyone has a right to expect. And I agree with your analysis. People who like Gin’s breezy voice and don’t mind her constant “sloppy,sloppy,sloppy,” are going to like these no matter what.

  3. Cernunos /

    Ho hum, a reviewer who clearly doesn’t like Urban Fantasy with female leads gives another bad review to an Urban Fantasy book that has a female main character. Why read a genre that you don’t like or get, simply for the purpose of giving bad reviews? I have a dislike for SF so I would never review a SF book because I feel that I wouldn’t be fair. This reviewer should try sticking to what they able to like because otherwise they are just listening to a book in order to give bad reviews. Or maybe that is the idea?

    • Hi Cernunos,
      Thanks for the feedback. I think you misjudge me, though. I do not dislike urban fantasy with female leads. for example, I loved Karen Marie Moning’s FEVER series and I also like Patricia Briggs’ and Juliet Blackwell’s urban fantasy with female leads. I liked the first book of this series well enough, too. It’s the repetitiveness and sloppy plot (not the heroine) that makes this a poor series, as I mentioned in each review.

      Also, I disagree that people should stick to what they like. If we did that, we’d all still be wanting chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese for dinner every night.

      • Juliet Blackwell’s stuff is such good fun!

        I think keeping a series fresh is difficult and my hat is off to any writer who can do it.

        • I agree, Marion. I think the ones that are most successful (Jim Butcher is a good example) are those who obviously plotted the series out from the beginning instead of just adding books on. Then they can weave important information and plot points in from the beginning and let you see the entire plot unfolding. I think Estep is just adding books on to a successful series, which I can’t blame her for — I’d be doing it, too, if I could. The problem is that each book feels tacked on and doesn’t give the impression that there’s an overarching plot that’s going somewhere.

          The author also needs to be aware of, and avoid, repetitiveness and writing quirks that may irritate readers.

  4. I gave up on the series after about 3 books. But I still come here to watch in fascination as you read and report.

    • Gee, thanks, Maria!! Now I feel like I’m not reading and writing in vain! I actually have book 9 now (was cheap at Audible) and I will probably read and review it JUST FOR YOU! :)

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