Title: Spider's Bite
Author: Jennifer Estep
Series: Elemental Assassin, #1
Format: Paperback, owned
My rating: 3 / 5
“My name is Gin, and I kill people.”
My name is Gin Blanco. They call me the Spider—the most feared assassin in the South (and a part-time cook at the Pork Pit BBQ joint.) As a Stone elemental, I can hear the whispers of the gravel beneath my feet and feel the vibrations of the soaring mountains above me, though I don’t use my powers on the job unless I absolutely have to. Call it professional pride.
After a ruthless Air elemental double-crossed me and killed my handler, I’m out for revenge. And I’ll exterminate anyone who gets in my way. I may look hot in a miniskirt, but I’m still one of the bad guys. Which is why I’m in trouble when irresistibly rugged Detective Donovan Caine agrees to help. The last thing a coldhearted killer needs when she’s battling a magic more powerful than her own is a sexy distraction... especially when he wants her dead just as much as the enemy.
-- As seen on Goodreads
Spider’s Bite is the first book in the Elemental Assassin series, and in short, I did like the story. I went through an Urban Fantasy phase about five or six years ago, and I read every UF book I could get my hands on at the library. I think this is why I didn’t love Spider’s Bite: it blends in with every other UF book I’ve read. I don’t think it brought anything particularly new to the genre.
Gin is our main character and narrator, and the book gets off to an awesome start. She is an assassin for hire, and we’re thrown into the story mid-way through one of her hits. I mean, with an opening line “My name is Gin, and I kill people” I was almost positive I would adore every second. This part of the book was super-fast paced, and I was thinking that if this pace could be maintained for the entire book, I’d love it. Most plots ebb and flow, but for some strange reason, after the first third, I felt the book slowed down and it pottered along at the same pace without any changes. You know when you’re listening to someone giving a speech, and they never change their tone of voice? That’s sort of what it felt like. I wanted some emotion, or a spark, or a big surprise… something! At times I wanted to push the plot along so it would return to the fast pace at the beginning.
I really liked Gin’s characters from the outset. She is reserved, bordering on aloof. She’s a badass girl that doesn’t back down from a challenge and I really enjoyed most of the story looking through her eyes. By the end of the book unfortunately, she started to blend in with most of the other female Urban Fantasy MC’s I’ve read about. Her voice wasn’t unique enough to stand out from the crowd as much as I would have liked.
And this brings me to the overall impression I was left with: Everything was good. I don’t have any moments I hated, but on the same token, nothing made me fall in love with the book either. This doesn’t mean it’s a bad read: I have a feeling the series could be a slow burner and the next books will improve.
One of the main things that put me off from loving the book was that I couldn’t buy into the romance between Detective Donovan Caine and Gin. In most UF’s there is a romantic interest that appears at some stage during the series, it’s almost expected. I felt the attraction between these two was created out of nothing. It felt like a staged romance, there was no spark and I lost interest in both the characters and the romantic story-line whenever the book veered onto this thread. I’d end up wanting whatever chapter it appears in to be over so we can get back to the main story. I also didn’t really see the point in having the Detective as the love interest: this happens in every book! I don’t see the appeal; I find it cheapens the character as they usually end up unwilling feeding our main character with inside information.
I enjoyed the world building, and I’d love to see more of Fin’s character appearing in that book. I thought he was so much more interesting than Donovan. I ended up liking Spider’s Bite enough that I do think I will continue on with book two at some stage. I didn’t find anything in the first book that helped set it apart from others in the genre, so hopefully the next edition will do that.