Monday, June 24, 2013

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: "Spider's Bite" by Jennifer Estep


Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin, #1)
Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep; Narrated by Lauren Fortgang
(Elemental Assassin #1)

Goodreads -- Amazon -- Audible
Author Website

For Ages 18+
Urban Fantasy
Publisher -- Publication Date
Audiobook, 11 hours and 59 minutes
Purchased from Audible

THEMES
Strong Heroine, Revenge Plot

SUMMARY
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.

FIRST LINE
"My name is Gin and I kill people."

MY THOUGHTS
I have been meaning to start the Elemental Assassin series for years now.  I love the concept and Estep's YA series, Mythos Academy, is one of my favorites right now.  Urban fantasy can be a bit hit or miss for me, but I was really impressed with this one and am looking forward to seeing what happens next in the series.
  
The protagonist for this series is Gin Blanco, an assassin who works in a small barbeque restaurant on the side.  I absolutely loved what Jennifer Estep did with her character.  She is a professional killer who is not ashamed of what she has had to do to survive.  Despite that personality trait, I found Gin to be an admirable, but flawed character.  She lives in a cutthroat world and had a rough childhood that forced her to either kill or die on the streets.  The ethics of being an assassin does come up at times, but doesn't take up too much of the story line.

Besides Gin, readers also meet a decent-sized cast of characters who, I'm sure, will have big roles in the series.  There is Fletcher Lane, Gin's father figure, whose fate sets the plot of the entire book in motion and Finn, Fletcher's son, a tech wiz that helps Gin exact her revenge.  I also loved meeting the dwarf sisters, JoJo and Sophie, who are as different as sisters can possibly be.  And, of course, I can't forget to mention Donovan Caine, the hot detective, who becomes an unwilling participant in Gin's revenge plot despite his strict opinions of good and bad.

Another "character" that I have to bring up in this review is the city of Ashland itself.  I love when an author develops a setting so well that it seems to have a personality of its own.  Like many cities, there are multiple sides to Ashland, particularly the posh suburbs that hide many secrets and the devious underbelly.  Gin and the gang are deeply engrained in this world and the development makes it that much more interesting for a reader.

I was also intrigued by the magical aspect of the series.  Gin is a Stone and Ice elemental, though she relies primarily on knives and other physical weapons, which I believe will become more of a focus later in the series.  I loved the concept of the different types of magic users and what elementals could do with their powers like Air Elementals healing injuries.

Most of Spider's Bite focused on introducing the world of Ashland and Gin's character as many first books in series do.  I did find it a bit slow at the beginning, but things really picked up once the revenge aspect was introduced.  The general plot of the book involved Gin and the gang trying to figure out who killed her handler and then trying to punish them for the murder.  There wasn't too much of a twist with the identity since Gin figured it out pretty quickly, but I thought it was interesting how she managed to find out exactly why it happened.

Lauren Fortgang was a new narrator for me, but I really liked the way she performed Spider's Bite.  She had a clear and concise voice that made it easy to understand what was going on and still kept me interested in the story.  I loved the fact that she had a Southern accent which really brought Gin and the rest of the Ashland residents to life.  I also thought she had good sense of timing and tone with her reading especially in the more dramatic scenes.

Overall, I thought Spider's Bite was an entertaining introduction to what I'm hoping will be a great series.  I think the story lines have tons of potential and I am looking forward to seeing what happens to Gin and the gang next.


RATING
4 STARS -- Really enjoyable book that is just this close to being wonderful.  May or may not re-read.

FAVORITE QUOTES
**"You can work with me—or you can wade through the blood and bodies after I'm done."

 **They’d played Sweet Home, Alabama so many times I wanted to crash the party, kill the radio, and knife whoever was selecting the music.

BOOKS IN THE SERIES
1. Spider's Bite
2. Web of Lies
3. Venom
4. Tangled Threads
5. Spider's Revenge
6. By a Thread
7. Widow's Web
8. Deadly Sting
9. Heart of Venom (Coming 2013)
10. The Spider (Coming 2013)

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