The Spider: A prequel to the ELEMENTAL ASSASSIN series

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThe Spider by Jennifer Estep urban fantasy book reviewsThe Spider by Jennifer Estep

The Spider, the tenth book in Jennifer Estep’s ELEMENTAL ASSASSIN series is actually a prequel in which we learn about Gin’s life and training before she became the infamous assassin, The Spider. Readers who haven’t been following the series could read The Spider with no problem, but they’d be missing a lot of the Easter Eggs that Estep leaves for her fans.

The story starts when adult Gin (the one we know and maybe love) is talking to her boyfriend Owen at The Pork Pit. (Gin and Owen are back together, a reunion I missed since I haven’t yet read book nine because I don’t own an audio copy, my library doesn’t have it, and I’m not willing to buy it.) A box of blue roses arrives at The Pork Pit without a card, but Gin knows exactly who they’re from. The memory induces Gin to tell Owen about her training (such as war games with Finn and Fletcher) and one of her first solo missions when she was a teenager.

On that mission she was hired to kill a rich businessman. Fletcher was worried that there might be something fishy about the assignment, but once Gin finds out that the marked man beats his daughter (all of the bad guys in this series beat helpless women, which is how you know they’re bad guys and not just rich guys) she, as usual, can’t resist saving a damsel in distress. Meanwhile, she falls in love with the man’s son. But it turns out that Fletcher was right — there was something fishy about the assignment. Things spin out of control and Gin learns a really tough lesson.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThe story of the mission is fairly entertaining, though the heavy foreshadowing makes it predictable and, as usual, there are many elements that are similar to previous stories — big fancy parties with fountains, Gin makes a friend by giving a bag of homemade cookies to a distressed girl, the marble she “reads” with her stone magic is vain, etc. The villains abuse girls, torture people, and talk about their plans with doors open. There’s another body dumping / blood clean up scene that made as little sense as the last one I mentioned. Even the sex scenes are repetitive (and boring).

As usual, Gin does some stupid things such as put on her stiletto heels when she’s trying to sneak around on marble floors and when she needs to run for her life. She shoots a gun in an elevator. And why doesn’t she have a cell phone with her when she’s on a mission? Other characters are carrying cell phones. Or when she’s been kidnapped and she’s sneaking around the bad guy’s mansion, why not find a phone and call for help, or call to warn the person who you’re trying to escape to warn? And then when she escapes and has to get word to Fletcher, why not ask the person who picks her up if she can borrow his phone? Gah!!! Also, why do they have to take injured people to JoJo to be healed? Why can’t they call JoJo and say “Hey, JoJo, could you meet us at such-and-such place so we don’t have to cram so-and-so’s broken and bloody body into Finn’s small expensive sports car and try to get him to your house before he bleeds out in the back seat? Would you mind?”

The Easter Eggs I mentioned are the appearances of all of the “new” relationships in Gin’s life. Bria, as a little girl, shows up at a party. Owen gives Gin a ride when she desperately needs help. Roslyn, Elliott Slater, Xavier, and Bria’s father are all there in their before-I-met-Gin personas. The characters make “maybe someday I’ll meet you again” type statements. I’m sure many fans will find this cute and appreciate the Easter Eggs, but I thought it was cheesy. Also I wondered why the present Gin, who now knows who they were, has never mentioned these encounters before. It’s also really weird that she’s giving Owen the intimate details about sex with another man.

It’s been a while since I read the first couple of books in the series, but it seems to me that in this prequel, Gin has a lot more power, or knows how to use it better, than she did in those first two books. That doesn’t make sense. Also, I’ve been wondering all this time why Gin never throws her knives (her silverstone knives) but she actually does in this book! I figured she didn’t have that skill, but apparently she does and chooses not to use it. She prefers to get within (sliverstone) knives’ reach of her opponents and this has nearly killed her in pretty much every book. If she can throw the (silverstone) knives, why doesn’t she do it?

Okay, I’ve complained a lot, again, but the reality is that if you decide not to take it seriously (which you really have to, if you’re still reading this series), this was actually one of the more fun plots and the terrible things that happen to Gin help explain why she has trouble getting close to people. I think fans of the ELEMENTAL ASSASSIN series will be pleased with The Spider. Lauren Fortgang is, as usual, an excellent narrator for the audio version.

Elemental Assassin — (2010- ) Publisher: “My name is Gin, and I kill people.” My name is Gin Blanco. They call me the Spider — the most feared assassin in the South (and a part-time cook at the Pork Pit BBQ joint.) As a Stone elemental, I can hear the whispers of the gravel beneath my feet and feel the vibrations of the soaring mountains above me, though I don’t use my powers on the job unless I absolutely have to. Call it professional pride. After a ruthless Air elemental double-crossed me and killed my handler, I’m out for revenge. And I’ll exterminate anyone who gets in my way. I may look hot in a miniskirt, but I’m still one of the bad guys. Which is why I’m in trouble when irresistibly rugged Detective Donovan Caine agrees to help. The last thing a coldhearted killer needs when she’s battling a magic more powerful than her own is a sexy distraction… especially when he wants her dead just as much as the enemy.

Jennifer Estep Elemental Assassin 1. Spider's Bite 2. Web of Lies 3. VenomJennifer Estep Elemental Assassin 1. Spider's Bite 2. Web of Lies 3. VenomJennifer Estep Elemental Assassin 1. Spider's Bite 2. Web of Lies 3. VenomJennifer Estep Elemental Assassin 1. Spider's Bite 2. Web of Lies 3. Venom 4. Tangled ThreadsJennifer Estep Elemental Assassin 1. Spider's Bite 2. Web of Lies 3. Venom 4. Tangled Threads 5. Spider's RevengeJennifer Estep Elemental Assassin 1. Spider's Bite 2. Web of Lies 3. Venom 4. Tangled Threads 5. Spider's Revenge 6. Thread of Death (novella) 7. By a ThreadJennifer Estep Elemental Assassin 1. Spider's Bite 2. Web of Lies 3. Venom 4. Tangled Threads 5. Spider's Revenge, Thread of Death (novella) 6. By a Thread 8. Widow's Webfantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsVenom in the Veins: An Elemental Assassin Book Kindle Edition by Jennifer Estep (Author)

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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 and conducts brain research 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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