Today I was in the mood for mindless escapism, for which I rely on brain-candy books since I don’t own a television (I had one but never used it, so I gave it to charity). Jennifer Estep’s Spider’s Bite (Elemental Assassin, Book One) is precisely what I wanted: the right read for tuning out and being entertained. I’m about to dive into novel two of the series, because novel one made me happy. Read on to learn why.
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Title: Spider’s Bite (Elemental Assassin #1)
Author: Jennifer Estep
Pages: 286-page trade paperback from Pocket Books; 5,755-location Kindle edition
Genre-ish: Urban fantasy, perhaps unsuited for juveniles because of violence and sex
Rating: ★★★☆☆ – perfect couch-potatoism in book form
Setting: The Southern city of Ashland, which sprawls across the three Southern states of Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina.
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. — Goodreads Summary
- By giving protagonist Gin strong reasons to loathe reliance on magic, author Estep avoids the trap of a protagonist with burgeoning and excessive magic power for whom ever-more-powerful villains with matching power must be invented. Gin still faces super villains, but she tries to outthink them instead of outmagic them.
- Gin has a complex background with childhood trauma, which explains her dislike of her own magic. This will provide for interesting development in subsequent books.
- In this universe the advantage of magic is balanced by a serious risk of addiction: magic affects some people like a drug, making them high, and as they use more and more magic, they gradually lose their grip on reality.
- The tough-chick dialog and attitude get a bit hackneyed, although beneath the attitude, Gin escapes stereotype.
- Gin is too good at being bad-ass. It can get boring when she faces opponents whom we know won’t stand a chance against her.
Spider’s Bite is a good read, because Jennifer Estep is a polished author. And, honestly, I chose Spider’s Bite because I really wasn’t looking for the be-all-end-all of novels, I just wanted something fun. After reading Spider’s Bite, I think the Elemental Assassin series promises to be entertaining.
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Spider’s Bite by Jennifer Estep
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