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Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin, Book 1) Mass Market Paperback – January 26, 2010

4.1 out of 5 stars 259 customer reviews
Book 1 of 15 in the Elemental Assassin Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bodies litter the pages of this first entry in Estep's engrossing Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series. In the corrupt Southern metropolis of Ashland, weather witches mingle with vampires, giants, and dwarves. A mysterious client hires assassin Gin Blanco, known as the Spider, to murder a whistle-blowing financial officer named Gordon Giles. Then the client attempts a double cross and brutally kills Gin's mentor. Now Gin, a stone elemental with a hard-boiled attitude, a closely guarded heart, and a penchant for throwing knives, has to join forces with one of the few honest cops in Ashland, sexy detective Donovan Caine, who hates her for killing his partner. Fans of Estep's humorous paranormal romances (Jinx; Hot Mama) may be taken aback by the gritty violence and steamy sex, but urban fantasy fans will love it. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Watch out world, here comes Gin Blanco. Funny, smart, and dead sexy." -- Lilith Saintcrow, author of Redemption Alley

"A raw, gritty, and compelling walk on the wild side, one that had me hooked from the first page." -- Nalini Singh, New York Times bestselling author

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books (January 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439147973
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439147979
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (259 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #130,395 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jennifer Estep is a New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author, prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea.

Jennifer writes the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series.

The books focus on Gin Blanco, an assassin codenamed the Spider who can control the elements of Ice and Stone. When she's not busy killing people and righting wrongs, Gin runs a barbecue restaurant called the Pork Pit in the fictional Southern metropolis of Ashland. The city is also home to giants, dwarves, vampires, and elementals - Air, Fire, Ice, and Stone.

Jennifer is also the author of the Black Blade young adult urban fantasy series.

The series focuses on Lila Merriweather, a 17-year-old thief who lives in Cloudburst Falls, West Virginia, a town dubbed "the most magical place in America." Tourists come from around the world to tour all the magic-themed shops and attractions, as well as see monsters like tree trolls, copper crushers, and more in their natural habitats.

Lila does her best to stay off the grid and avoid the Families -- or mobs -- who control the town. But when she saves a member of the powerful Sinclair Family, Lila finds herself caught in the middle of a brewing war between the Sinclairs and the Draconis, the most powerful Family in town.

Jennifer is also the author of the Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series.

The books focus on Gwen Frost, a 17-year-old Gypsy girl who has the gift of psychometry, or the ability to know an object's history just by touching it. After a serious freak-out with her magic, Gwen is shipped off to Mythos Academy, a school for the descendants of ancient warriors like Spartans, Valkyries, Amazons, and more.

Jennifer is also the author of the Bigtime paranormal romance series.

The Bigtime books feature sexy superheroes, evil ubervillains, and smart, sassy gals looking for love.

Excerpts, free short stories, and more information on Jennifer's books can be found at http://www.jenniferestep.com.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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If Urban Fantasy were a poker game, and UF authors were the players, Jennifer Estep would be the one who sat down at a high stakes game full of steely-eyed gamblers, pushed a huge pile of chips into the middle of table and said, "All in." In a genre full of gritty locales and bada** heroines, Estep found a way to up the ante.

Gin Blanco, the heroine of Spider's Bite, is an assassin. She's not a former assassin. She's not an assassin in the service of some higher cause, she has no special dispensation from angels or demons or any other supernatural group that hands out licenses to kill. She's an assassin for hire and she takes real pride in a job well done. Gin does prefer to kill people who deserve it - she does a fair amount of "pro bono" work, as she calls it - but this is one book that doesn't gloss over the fact that even her charitable activities leave bodies on the floor, wives without husbands, children without fathers.

The plot is fast-paced, a real page-turner. As the book opens, Gin is just finishing one job and, once the deed is done, she's immediately sent on another. She prefers a little more prep time, but the contract is worth $5 million and the job doesn't sound too hard: all she has to do is kill a middle aged accountant within a certain time frame. For an assassin of Gin's caliber, nothing could be easier. But just as she's about to pull the trigger, Gin discovers she's been double-crossed: the client who took out the contract on the accountant took out another on Gin herself. The plan was for Gin's death to tie up any loose ends related to the accountant's murder and keep suspicion away from the client. But things don't go as planned.
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I'm surprised this book got published with the writing that's going on here. I know some other reviewers mentioned it, but the repetitiveness of the writing is atrocious. Gin uses the same "sloppy, sloppy, sloppy" for every enemy she encounters. She uses "Mmm" everytime she sees Detective Caine. She doesn't look at things with her eyes, she looks with her "grey eyes." Considering this is in first person, people don't go around thinking "Oh I see that with my blue/green/brown/whatever eyes."


Furthermore, the author spends a lot of writing reminding the reader of the same things. "Gin hasn't cried in seventeen years." Fletcher drinking chicory coffee, Finn drinking chicory coffee. The firemage killed her family. The redundancy makes the plot seem slow and tedious to follow.

I saw some reviewers disliked Gin's masculine-like sexual inner monologues. At first I actually liked that she was a sexual person and comfortable with that, but it does become more of a parody than a realistic portrayal of a dominant woman who is comfortable with her sexuality. Especially, with the usage of "Mmm" after every one of those scenes.
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Gin, aka the Spider, is an elite assassin for hire. As she puts it, she's got the skills, blood doesn't bother her, and the money is good. She does have her own code of ethics that limit her services to the truly deserving (as well as a strict no pets, no kids policy). When her current client double crosses her and kills someone close to her, Gin has a clear conscience in vowing revenge, and enlists the help of the only honest cop in Ashland (a metropolis in an alternate South) who has been hunting Gin ever since she killed his partner.

I loved the thoroughness of the world building in Spider's Bite. Magic is common. Some people are gifted with magical abilities tied to various elements (Stone, Ice, Earth, and Fire) and vampires, dwarves, and giants are part of the population. And I definitely think that the urban fantasy genre was ripe for a good female assassin

It should come as no surprise that Jennifer Estep is a self proclaimed fan of the show Alias. In the opening scene of Spider's Bite, Gin is trying to escape from an insane asylum in a way that is very reminiscent of one of my favorite episodes of Alias. Gin had to be resourceful, patient and quick on her feet. And as an assassin, I liked her immediately. When she wasn't killing people? Not quite as much.

Gin is an extremely aggressive character in every sense of the word. Alpha with a capital `A.' In her professional life, that aggression is vital. She would have died long ago without it. In her personal life? It's a little hard to take.

Normally I prefer at least a little romance in my urban fantasy, but I hate to say that I think Spider's Bite would have fared better without it. That's not to say there actually is any romance in this book, there isn't.
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Comment 80 of 89 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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As a teenager, Gin Blanco lost her family to a brutal attack which left her homeless, friendless, and running scared. All that changed after she met Fletcher, the kind own of a local BBQ joint. Fletcher got Gin back on her feet while wiping away her fear with the knowledge of how to protect herself and those she loves. Years later, she's become a tough assassin, known as the Spider, with a killer record. And if her sharp knives don't do the trick, Gin's ace in the hole happens to be an affinity for stone, making her a rare elemental.

After agreeing to a risky contract which ends up going south, Gin quickly finds herself fighting tooth and nail to protect those she loves while trying to stay alive herself. But the only way she's going to make it out alive in the corrupt and brutal city of Ashland is by aligning herself with by-the-book Detective Donovan Caine. Which can only complicate matters since said easy-on-the-eyes Detective happens to loathe every single aspect of Gin's chosen profession. Figures.

Jennifer Estep has created an intriguing new world in her newest series Elemental Assassins. As a dangerous and corrupt city with dirty cops ready to look the other way, Ashland reminds me of a southern Gotham City with an added bonus of powerful magic. Though equipped with an appealing world-building concept, I struggled to connect to Gin as a character. Even in the face of tragedy, I never really felt that her grief was genuine. Sad to say, her narrative often seemed forced and quite repetitive. I often found myself hearing Gin describe the same types of scenes over and over again. Her enemies were always "sloppy, sloppy, sloppy" and every description of the attractive Detective Caine ended with "Mmm.
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