Wednesday, November 7, 2012

On Assassins: A Review of Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep

Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin, #1)I've already experienced Jennifer Estep's writing via her young adult series, the Mythos Academy books. This book, however, has languished on the TBR shelf for...probably a year or more. I suck like that. I finally read it...but did I like it?

Spider's Bite introduces Gin, an assassin who has a talent for quick killing, as well as some magic abilities. When she's offered a seemingly simple job for twice her usual fee, it seems like a great opportunity--especially since her handler, Fletcher, believes she can take the money and finally retire. But the job goes wrong and Gin is double crossed, putting her on the run and in search of whoever hired her. Along the way she teams up with Donovan Caine, an idealistic detective who is simultaneously repulsed by and attracted to Gin.

Positive Comments

I liked Gin. She seems like a badass, able to kill with the smallest of weapons in the most tense situations. She's cold in many ways, and yet she's not impossible to sympathize with. Predictably, she has a tragic back story, but fortunately we don't get weighed down with it. The people that she cares about, she cares about intensely. She operates under a moral code, though it's more flexible than most.

I liked the plot. It was simple enough to follow, not so much so that it put me to sleep. I liked the fact that it dealt with mobs and dirty cops and the seedy underworld of Ashland. I like that the story features vampires, dwarves, and giants, but I never had to sit through more than a paragraph of info-dump world building about them.

Critical Comments


There are a good many frustrating cliches in this story. Donovan is one of them--he's hot, and I like him, but his relationship with Gin as her opposite and sometimes/maybe enemy is extremely predictable. He shows up, and you immediately know that they're going to sleep together, but he's going to hate himself and judge her because she's a murderer, and so forth. It's hard to like them together, for this reason.

The narration is a bit awkward and even repetitive at times. For example, Gin describes her feelings of "guilt and grief" multiple, multiple times following the death of one character. And then there's the tendency to call characters by their full name for no reason...Mab Monroe, Alexis James, and Donovan Caine are all frequent victims. I found this to be annoying, distracting, but not too detrimental to the story.



Overall, I liked the tone of the story, the characters, and the authors voice (with a few stylistic issues). So yes, I'd recommend it to urban fantasy fans. 4 stars. 

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