Spider's Bite

Spider's Bite - Jennifer Estep “My name is Gin, and I kill people.”
Originally posted at WickedLilPixie Reviews

How can you not be ensnared immediately with an opening line like that? Jennifer Estep drops us into the life of elite assassin for hire Gin “The Spider” Blanco and from there you are off and running with Gin through a typical assignment.

From the very beginning Estep makes it clear to us that Gin is unashamed of who she is and what she does. She doesn’t apologize for her profession or make excuses for it. She was orphaned when she was barely a teenager, and was left to live on the streets. From the streets she was taken in by another assassin. He raises Gin as his own and trains her to become an assassin like himself. Now years later she has earned a reputation for herself as the “The Spider”, known in the world for her unmatchable patience and natural ability with knives. Now that she is getting older (and by older we mean her late 20s, assassins have a very definite shelf-life) her handler and mentor pleads with her to retire after one more very lucrative job. And wouldn’t you know it? This last job she agrees to take goes epically wrong. Enter a brooding sexy detective and the story takes off from there. Gin is double-crossed, makes a badass escape (her second one, at this point), her mentor is tortured and murdered, then she is framed for murder. Essentially? She has the worst day ever. She reaches out to and teams up with some very interesting characters and vows to find the killer responsible for her loved one.

In Gin’s alternate universe called Ashland lies a dark city full the crime and corruption you would expect in a dark Urban Fantasy. There are humans, vampires, giants, and gnomes, all seemingly more on the human side in speech and mannerisms. In addition, there are Elementals. Elementals are magic users who control the elements of Stone, Ice, Fire and Air along with minor elements too. Gin is an Elemental with an ability of Stone, and a seemingly lesser ability of Ice. What makes her even more dangerous is that she has made her magic abilities secondary to her non-magic abilities. She prefers to rely on her wit, patience, and blades to fight, resorting only to Stone and Ice as a last resort.

I truly enjoyed Spider’s Bite. Estep was successful in placing us in Gin’s world and expecting us to keep up, which worked well with the setting of the fast pace. Estep is not afraid of narrating bloody violence and seedy landscapes, which helps give the book that dark and edgy feel I prefer in my Urban Fantasy books. Gin is not a one-dimensional character and I appreciated her complexity. She is not afraid to attack first, but she also has that critical softer side. She is truly dedicated to the few people in her life who have never let her down. Her confidence and sense of self is so refreshing that I admired her as she took us along with her story.

There is some sexual tension between Gin and the “good cop” she reaches out to for help, Donovan Caine, and even some romance. The first of my issues with the book is the Detective and his treatment of Gin. While I understood that Detective Caine is for all previous purposes on the other side of the law as her, once they agree to work together, his constant judgmental snarks really got to me. He never let up with it. This is probably testament to how much I liked Gin and felt pissed off on her behalf, but there were several times I wanted to reach in to the book and finger slap him. Detective Caine so vocally deeply despises everything Gin is and does, that we are left hoping for him to come around. It’s hard having faith he will change his thinking and in turn his treatment of Gin, because his bitchiness really never let up. But we can still hope!

There were a couple of small issues I had with the book as a whole. Estep could get very repetitive. After Gin faces tragedy early on in the story, the event itself is brought up so many times that it desensitized me. I seemed to disconnect with Gin when she’d keep bringing it up and it felt disingenuous. Estep’s narrative as a whole could feel forced and repetitive at times, particularly in the middle of the book. Gin described the same types of scenes over and over again. Her enemies were always “sloppy, sloppy, sloppy”. A larger one was how she finished ever narrative of Detective Caine with an inner monologue of “Mmm.” That was just weird and creepy ! Once, okay it works for me, but after every time she’d describe his “soapy scent”, at some point it was followed with an “Mmm.” And lastly, the big issue I had with the writing, Gin mentions her own grey eyes at least twenty times through the book. It was so often that I almost got out a highlighter and counted the occurrences. For me, these issues did not fully take away from the book, but they were prevalent enough to cause enough irritation that I could not give it 5 stars.

In summary, I gave this book a 4 stars. I enjoyed it and read it very quickly. I really liked the Heroine a great deal, and it had just enough of a cliff-hanger ending that it left me definitely wanting more!