Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Spider by Jennifer Estep

The Basics:
The Spider by Jennifer Estep
Pocket Books
Book Ten in the Elemental Assassin series
Urban fantasy
Published December 24, 2013

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


How did I end up in a career where I always have blood on my hands? Well, let me tell you a story about an assassin who thought she could do no wrong. . . . 

Ten years ago. A blistering hot August night. I remember like it was yesterday. The night I, Gin Blanco, truly became the Spider. Killing people is what I do best, especially now that I’ve honed my Ice and Stone magic. But back then, I had yet to learn one very important rule: arrogance will get you, every single time. 

This particular job seemed simple: murder a crooked building contractor with ties to ruthless Fire elemental Mab Monroe. My mentor, Fletcher Lane, had some misgivings, but I was certain that I had the situation under control . . . right up until I exposed my weaknesses to a merciless opponent who exploited every single one of them. There’s a reason assassins aren’t supposed to feel anything. Luckily, a knife to the heart can fix that problem, especially when I’m the one wielding it. . . .

Why I picked up this book:

Female assassin, urban fantasy, sounds good to me!

My thoughts:

I picked a great book for late entry into the series since this is basically a flashback!

The first chapter sets it all up - Gin's receiving roses in the present day that take her back ten years to a time when she made what she considers one of the biggest screw-ups of her life.

And because we *know* that she feels this way about it, there's a certain element of surprise lacking in the story. It's more like watching a train wreck slowly, slowly, slowly  inch towards occurring. Unfortunately, there's also a ton of spoiler-filled reviews out there, so be careful of those! Once start to read the book, you'll undoubtedly connect a few dots that Gin missed in the past, but there's no sense in ruining what little suspense there is!

I don't know Gin as a fully formed and functioning assassin, because I'm new to the series, so it doesn't bother me at all that she's not at peak form in this story. I kind of liked that this was my introduction to her as it felt like a good place to begin.

The downside of being new is that the little cameos by other characters really don't make much of an impression. Owen, who she's dating in the present, appears at an opportune moment and while I knew it for a cameo, I doubt I got the full effect or moment of joy from it. I'm sure there are other characters we were supposed to know and love, but... yeah.

There's a few great action sequences - really any time Gin is doing her thing, I enjoyed the book. She made a large number of mistakes - whether through impatience or sloppiness as she called it, or simply failing to think things through. But, it makes me optimistic about other entries in the series, when she's more seasoned. I'm also curious now about how Owen managed to break through to her well-protected heart - fans, is it a good romance?

Bottom line:

Because The Spider is a flashback and we know in advance that things are going to go horribly wrong, I didn't enjoy this as much as I might have otherwise. Knowing roughly how things would end up took a lot of tension out of what might have been a great story. That said, it was a good entry into the series for someone new to the books - I didn't have to catch up to some overarching storyline nor did I have to negotiate all kinds of current character relationships.

I'd say it's worth a shot if you're looking for new urban fantasy series, though you might prefer to go the traditional route and pick up book number one - Spider's Bite.

3.5 stars
For fans of the Elemental Assassin series, urban fantasy, kickass heroines, magic

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