Sorry for the muddled state of some of the older posts. Mist is slaving away to reformat them ASAP ; ).

12/26/11

Spider’s Bite by Jennifer Estep (Elemental Assassin bk 1)

I’ve always been a sucker for anti-heroes. The concept of a
Assassin protagonist seemed right up my alley. In a world of black and white, long live the murky shades of gray. No apologies or noble excuses, just complexity; is often my cuppa. So did ‘Spider’s Bite’ scratch the itch? Somewhat, yes.

Gin Blanco is a notorious assassin.

All killers have their own style and she’s made a name for herself by being

 precise, patient, and crafty.  She’s works according to her own moral compass, In her own words “  I’m a killer, but not a monster”. As expected of a killer for hire she doesn’t have many emotional entanglements, but the loyalties she fosters run deep. When a botched job spirals into the murder of her handler/conspiracy where she’s slated to take the fall; she goes on the offensive Knives blazing to  get answers and deal out punishment to those responsible.  It seems spider’s don’t bite, so much as stab lol.



Gin Blanco is  a tough cookie in the best possible way. I really enjoyed the mixture of fierce predator with southern miss. Where this book really shines though is the action and investigation aspect and there’s more that enough to go around. I found many of the side characters appealing, and gin’s personal history seems like the set up for a wild ride indeed.


 
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 Mountains above me. My Ice magic also comes in handy for making the occasional knife. But I don't use my powers on the job unless I absolutely have to. Call it professional pride.
Now that a ruthless Air elemental has double-crossed me and killed my handler, I'm out for revenge. And I'll exterminate anyone who gets in my way — good or bad. I may look hot, but I'm still one of the bad guys. Which is why I'm in trouble, since irresistibly rugged Detective Donovan Caine has agreed to help me. The last thing this coldhearted killer needs when I'm battling a magic more powerful than my own is a sexy distraction...especially when Donovan wants me dead just as much as the enemy.

 

My favorite aspect of this novel is the concept of elemental magic. That some are born with the power to manipulate the elements, to different degrees of skill or application based on the person. This will sound sappy but despite all the: fantasy I’ve read, manga I’ve devoured, or harry potter dvds I’ve put through their paces;  I’ve never would’ve have thought of  element powers in this way. Take for example an Air Elemental. I’d think “ok, if I had this power I could blow the heck outta a shiz”  lmao. But from convenient air gusts  to weather manipulation, is as far as my imagination would go. In Gins world yeah you could do that. But you can heal using air pressure to hold cuts together like a supernatural Band-Aid. Or if someone were to break into your house, you could literally suck the oxygen out of the room suffocating them to unconsciousness until the police arrived or they died. Ooohh or  force air bubbles into their blood stream to stop their heart. Uber creative, no? Makes me wonder what Mz. Estep could do with Sailor Mercury. I always thought bubbles were an incredibly lame super power. But now my mind is blown open, so who knows what’s possible. Mayhap it’s time I revist the “fighting evil by moonlight, winning love by daylight” gang lol.



 There are different races world. From what I gathered there are Elementals ( which are just gifted humans…I think)/humans, dwarves  ( which weren’t really touched on, but I’m sure are more than just miniature humanoids, since 2 characters ages are beyond human life span), Vampire (It is mentioned often that some can feed on emotions or sex instead or as well as blood. But it’s not touched on how one becomes a vampire and  one or so of the vamps have children and are just dandy with the sun. ), and trolls (literally huge 7ft ish, hulking humanoids, very strong..,not sure about life expectancy). The races seem to get along smoothly, which class and then sort of magic if any at all being where social tension stems from. Hopefully it’ll be further explored in the series.



Jin in many ways is less anti-hero than I expected. The city is so corrupt that there aren’t really normal channels to turn to if someone is a threat to you and yours. For something to be wrong there has to be a right option, no?  It’s going to make me sound like a blood thirsty wench but I found the behind the scenes world of ‘murder for hire’ compelling. It had me wishing Jin was more social with her colleagues to get a chance to experience others in her profession or that she would have flashbacks of her apprenticeship.



Now on to what I didn’t like, Detective Donovan Caine. In fact dislike is too casual a word.  I think he’s an Asshat and should suck eggs. I get that his weakness was supposed to honor fueled naiveté,  but he never learned or changed his knee jerk reactions or though process, like a skipping record of incorrect assumptions.  I officially nominate him for the slow kid down the lane award for merely surviving the treacherous Ashland this long. I also saw their attraction as toxic. It all amounts to   him being a a total jerk, her pretending not to be hurt by it, and lusting after him anyway. Initially it didn’t bother me so much, when it just seemed to be a casual attraction, though it did make me scratch my head a bit. But when it’s later colored to be a deeper connection of some sort *cough* bullshit *cough*.





Also this novel would really  have benefited from tighter editing in terms of character interaction/responses. The constant ‘copy/paste’ repetition is maddening. I can honestly say I never want to read “his eyes going from/to desire. want, need, guilt”, “gold eyes meeting grey”, or  at the most random moment her going "Mhmmm* at his lean muscles and soapy smell ( at least 4x) and imagining herself on his "length" (gah…always  his "length" = / ) and her vagina aching for him, or every person she fights being "sloppy, sloppy, sloppy"; ever EVER ever again. It often knocked me out of the story.
  
Conclusion: where this book really shines is the action and investigation aspect and there’s more than enough to go around. I found many of the side characters appealing, and gin’s personal history seems like the set up for a wild ride indeed, if the writing and character motivations is improve  a tad.

 Grade:


 I thoroughly enjoyed myself. This read has most of the right elements, yet  lacks a little somethin' somethin' to truly rise above the pack. A fun ride, but doesn't quite scream "Oh Hells Yes!  READ-GASM!". (3 out of 5 stars)



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