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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Elemental Assassin" series book 1
In a new urban fantasy series, JE creates a world in which giants, vampires and dwarves mingle with humans. In the city of Ashland, betrayal is met with a knife in the back, addicts (to both narcotics and magic) litter the streets, vampire hookers drain clients dry if they refuse to pay for their pleasures whilst the police force is in the pocket of those willing to...
Published on 16 April 2010 by Book Addict

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A dark urban fantasy
The strongest aspect of Spider's Bite is the character of Gin. Estep did an impressive job with her character definition and development. I very much appreciated her complexity, depth, and intelligence. She's flawed, damaged, and almost sociopathic, and I was fond of the combination of internal strength, fortitude, and physical aptitude. I liked her friend/associate Finn,...
Published on 31 Jan 2011 by Rebecca


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Elemental Assassin" series book 1, 16 April 2010
By 
Book Addict - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin) (Mass Market Paperback)
In a new urban fantasy series, JE creates a world in which giants, vampires and dwarves mingle with humans. In the city of Ashland, betrayal is met with a knife in the back, addicts (to both narcotics and magic) litter the streets, vampire hookers drain clients dry if they refuse to pay for their pleasures whilst the police force is in the pocket of those willing to bribe them. Sitting on top of this pile of corruption and treachery is Mab Monroe, a Fire elemental believed to be the most powerful born in five centuries.

Unlike Mab, Gin Blanco lives under the raider; her persona of cook in The Pork Pit is the perfect cover for her other job as the Spider; the most feared assassin around. Despite killing for money, Gin has her own code of honour, and when her handler is brutally killed by an Air elemental she seeks revenge.

Aiding her is Donovan Caine, the only honest detective in Ashland, yet he has his own agenda; find the assassin who murdered his partner and bring them to justice. Yep this assassin is none other than Gin, yet she and Caine work in uneasy harmony to uncover the mastermind behind a variety of schemes, all of which hinge on framing Gin for a murder and then killing her. Good guy Caine certainly holds his own against his enemies, whilst his reluctant attraction to Gin is equally reciprocated and creates a steamy undercurrent as the drama and action intensifies around the pair in the final few chapters.

From the first line of this book I was hooked, as Gin calmly informs her next target exactly how long she has left to live before clinically committing the assassination and making her escape, yet the story line flagged somewhat following such an action fuelled opening. The initial investigation into who double crossed Gin and why is rather slow paced before the drama is upped again in a variety of physical confrontations which tend to end in gory deaths.

Gin herself makes this book in my opinion. She may be able to coolly slit the throat of a target, but she has her own rules and is intensely loyal to those she loves. She is attracted to Caine but is not blinded by lust and whilst she may like the detective, she would not hesitate to gut him should he threaten her plans of revenge or do anything stupid like arrest her. Gin is also a Stone and Ice elemental, but rarely uses her magic on the job, instead preferring a more hands on approach involving sharp knives. This gritty, dark urban fantasy is a great start to a new series with some great secondary characters (in particular Finn, and dwarf sisters Jo-Jo and Sophia) plus some great loose threads which I hope are explored further in book 2 "Web of Lies".
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jennifer Estep delivers the good stuff with a memorable leading lady., 11 Mar 2010
This review is from: Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin) (Mass Market Paperback)
SPIDER'S BITE is an urban fantasy with a top notch conspiracy that fascinated me from cover to cover. From the very first page I got nonstop action and a conspiracy that unravels itself in a thrill ride that kept me expecting everything from anyone. There are already many first person POV, tough-as-nails, leading ladies out there who fight evil but Jennifer Estep managed to instantly hook me with Gin's own code of honor and her utter professionalism in her line of work. From there I got to meet the people who matter to her the most, I got to feel her pain, her determination and her humor.

The story unfolds itself on the backdrop of a fictional southern metropolis of Ashland where the Rune images proclaim someones family and power. The Rune symbolism and the importance to the characters are one of those details I crave to read in an Urban Fantasy. I didn't get an info dump but along the way I got enough for Ashland to become a vivid and energetic city that is the home to a few distinctive characters.

As written from the first person it is all about Gin. She is tough but her honor and empathy balance that in her personality. She can be deadly cold but she is also deeply committed to those she cares about. There is an interplay between revealing slivers of information from Gin's present situation as well as her past that gives a complete picture of her persona. It speaks of events from her past that shaped the driven assassin she is today.

Gin is flanked by two men; cop Donovan Caine and the son of her handler and teacher; Finnegan Lane. Finnegan is a metro-man, he loves to cloth himself in the finest there is, he is a business man, cultured, sophisticated, a charmer. Never underestimate him though, he was raised by his father, he can pack a mean punch and understands how the assassin world works. Now Donovan Caine is a cop, not a cop that is susceptible to bribes but one who is righteous, idealistic, a believer of the system. Justice is what Donovan is all about in a rugged and sexy way. He gets under the skin of Gin and at an occasion or two their verbal sparring make the sizzle between them ignite in to a blazing physical heat. Their budding attraction contains a promise for the stories ahead but for now it was about a certain amount of raw heat that needed an outlet, nothing more or less. If there was one thing I missed at a few moments was Donovan's point of view in the attraction simmering between them. It created a distance that is the downside of a first person narrative.

Of course I got to meet more characters but the dwarf sisters JoJo and Sophie Deveraux deserve an honorary mention. They add their own pizzazz to the story that turns them in to beloved supporting characters who hopefully become recurring character in future series releases. Now what would a conspiracy be without the enemies? If only to think of Mab Monroe, an extremely dangerous and powerful Fire Elemental. Somehow I don't think we've seen the last of her or her power hungry tendencies. Also the sadistic evil doer who is behind the conspiracy adds a chilling presence to the tale. So many were able to be the mastermind behind this plot I was kept guessing until the very last chapters. While the set-up of book #2 Web Of Lies didn't surprise me I am most eager to see where the overall story arc is going.

At a gradual pace SPIDER'S BITE delivers on a tale that kept me up till the late hours of the evening. I got much in the right amounts that enhanced the overall impact of this story. It gives fight scenes in all its lethal splendor, a kill-or-be-killed chase for the truth that alternates with an investigation that is bend on uncovering all the information needed to make the evil doers pay for what they did. The action is going from silent and deadly, to a full-scale, hands-on, down-and-dirty fight that gets the blood pumping. There is also enough explanation about how the Elemental magic and runes work to deepen the understanding of their effects on the characters and this world. All the aspects in this novel aim for a nail-biting, tension filled Urban Fantasy that grabs the reader from the get-go. I can say that it for sure delivered for me, and I closed this novel with adding another author to my list who can satisfy my craving for an exhilarating Urban Fantasy.

SPIDER'S BITE is a more than welcome addition to the wildly popular Urban Fantasy genre. Jennifer Estep delivers the good stuff with a memorable leading lady, and a character-driven and tightly plotted story that captivated me from the first page.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My name is Gin, and I kill people., 18 July 2011
By 
L. Goold "Littlechoo" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin) (Mass Market Paperback)
Best tag line ever!

Well whoa! I really didn't expect that beginning! As you can most probably tell I didn't read the blurb. But after the initial shock I soon settled into it, then quickly found myself hooked.

I didn't think I'd like Gin as much as I did. I really liked her no apologies attitude. She is what she is, and she's good at it. Even though we don't get to know much about Fletcher I still felt Gin's pain. and understood her need for revenge.

I liked Finn and I liked the close sibling-like relationship he has with Gin. I admit I got a little something in my eye when Finn hugs Gin and tell's her he thought he lost her too. I hope he sticks around in the next book. Actually, there wasn't anyone I didn't like, or that got on my nerves.

It was a great read. The pages went by unnoticed as I was that engrossed. Definitely a series to go on my favourite list. It doesn't have the humour of The Disillusionists series, but it would come a close second if I judged it based on how much I enjoyed the story :)

See more urban fantasy reviews at [...]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 10 Feb 2011
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This review is from: Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin) (Mass Market Paperback)
Gin Blanco isn't what most people would call normal. She has magical abilities, works as an assassin and lost her family when she was a child. And still she enjoys her life and is happy.
However when a client tries to kill her and brutally murders her surrogate father Fletcher her life changes. Gin wants revenge and is willing to do everything to find out who ordered the killing. Together with Fletcher's son Finn, Detective Donovan Caine and other friends she starts the search.
Will they be able to find Fletcher's murderer and will Gin get her revenge?

I bought "Spider's Bite" some months ago and at the beginning of this week finally decided to give it a try. At first I just wanted to read some pages to get a feeling for the story however after I finished the first chapter I knew that this book would be awesome. Right from the start on I enjoyed Jennifer Estep's writing style. She managed to capture my interest, made me sympathise with her characters and I often felt like I was part of the story.
That Gin Blanco works as an assassin never bothered me. She doesn't kill because of the thrill, she kills because that's what she was teached to do and it doesn't hurt that her targets are mostly monsters. So far I read three books with assassins as the heroine/hero and all of them worked perfectly for me.
In Gin's world you have to be hard and ruthless to survive. In a world where a cruel woman rules over Gin's hometown and where dirty cops are the norm only the strongest have a chance. Gin learned the hard way that there is no justice for those without power and money.
Reading about Gin and her job was always interesting and I found her very likable. I also loved reading about her interactions with Fletcher and Finn. And I enjoyed that the relationship between her and Detective Caine is just at the beginning and it will be interesting to see what happens next. Caine is one of the few good cops in the town and he wants to believe that people are honest and that his fellow cops are clean. I hope that he will get the chance to learn more about Gin and who she really is.
The mix between thrilling, funny, sexy and sad scenes felt just right to me and after finishing the book I immediately ordered the next two in the series because I was so enthralled by "Spider's Bite".

cover
I love it. I like how the heroine is portrayed and it fits perfectly to the story.

final appraisal
This book is a fantastic start into Jennifer Estep's UF series. "Spider's Bite" is thrilling, entertaining and I loved reading every page of it. When I finished the book I immediately wanted to read on and that's always a good sign.
If you are looking for a thrilling, fantastic book with complex, unusual characters then you should go and get "Spider's Bite".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A dark urban fantasy, 31 Jan 2011
By 
This review is from: Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin) (Mass Market Paperback)
The strongest aspect of Spider's Bite is the character of Gin. Estep did an impressive job with her character definition and development. I very much appreciated her complexity, depth, and intelligence. She's flawed, damaged, and almost sociopathic, and I was fond of the combination of internal strength, fortitude, and physical aptitude. I liked her friend/associate Finn, as well, and though he wasn't as fleshed out as Gin and he played a careless playboy roll a little too often, I sympathized with him over the loss of his father. The cop, Detective Donovan Caine, was a bit too morally superior and way too judgmental and critical for me to warm up to him much.
While I'm a huge Gin fan, however, I'm not as big a fan of the plot and climax of Spider's Bite. I thought the beginning was weighed down by too much exposition and the middle dragged as the book practically plodded towards a not too surprising (though it tried to be) conclusion. And the plot itself: assassin double-crossed, handler killed, has to find out who did it and fast - wasn't all that compelling or dangerous and felt a bit cliched.
I also had some serious issues with technical aspects of the book. I felt there was way too much repetition, most notably in descriptive passages (if I had to read about Donovan's soapy scent one more time, or Gin's cold, gray eyes/stare, or see anyone else's eyes flash with emotion I was tossing my Kindle out the window). There were far too many awkward and unnecessary analogies used, as well, also as a descriptive tool that fell flat ("Finn's voice dripped with sarcasm like grease off a piece of bacon." "Emotions flashed in his eyes like lightning."). It got to a point where almost everything described was "like" something else. Analogous narrative can be a useful tool, but it was horribly overused here. I also had a problem with a couple of Gin's "hits." I admit, I'm no expert in human biology or pathology, but it felt like it should have taken a lot longer for Gin's targets to die from their wounds (in one case a screw perforating the trachea) than it did in several instances in the book. I'd have preferred either better description of the wounds inflicted or an explanation that a major organ, like the heart, or a major artery (brachial) was hit. Either that or be a little more realistic in length of time between a wound and death. I wish an editor had tightened up all those aspects of the book a bit more, because it got very distracting for me and I struggled at times to stay in the story.
I have to say, though, points to Estep for the wickedly subtle but nifty series cross-over with the mention of Fiona Fine's menswear collection. If you're unfamiliar with the fab Ms. Fine, check out Estep's delightfully campy and fun Bigtime series. Estep's second book in the Elemental Assassin series is now out, and I look forward to continuing the tales of Gin, because regardless of the issues I had, I'm still interested enough to keep going with the series
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is one walk on the dark side that I was too tempted to resist. Book One., 19 Feb 2010
By 
Detra Fitch (USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin) (Mass Market Paperback)
Her main cover ID is Gin Blanco. Unknown to all, except an elite few, she is the infamous assassin-for-hire called the Spider. In her down time she works in the Pork Pit, cooking up the best barbecue in Ashland. As a Stone elemental, she can hear everything from the whispers of the gravel she walks upon to the Appalachian Mountains.

The Appalachian Mountains cut through most of the city. It makes for a beautiful place. But looks are deceiving, more often than not. Take Mab Monroe for example. Mab is a young, lovely woman. She is also a powerful Fire elemental. Mab runs this town. Heck, Mab OWNS Ashland. Her true nature is hidden behind fund raisers, charity donations, and winning smiles. Mab never hires assassins, like the Spider, to do her dirty work. Mab prefers to personally deal with anyone stupid enough to cross her. In fact, Mab could kill someone in front of a room filled with cops and walk away without any interference.

Gin stays out of Mab's way. The Spider is NOT stupid. She has a few morals left. Gin never kills children or animals. Gin's handler has chosen her assignments for well over a decade. He is one of the few she trusts with her life. So when an Air elemental double-crosses Gin and kills him, Gin is out for revenge. Gin will find out who is behind it all, one body at a time.

Detective Donovan Caine is probably the only cop in Ashland that is not corrupted. Donovan wants the Spider dead for personal reasons; however, he agrees to help he assassin for even more personal reasons. But once this is over all promises will be null and void. The Spider will continue her deadly trade and he will do all in his power to arrest the assassin and put her behind bars forever.

***** FIVE STARS! Wow! This is the first of a new series featuring the Spider, an assassin-for-hire. I have to sympathize with the reasons of why Gin learned the trade and I admire the few morals she has. Author Jennifer Estep has created a remarkable and very different type of heroine that kept me reading far later into the night than I should have. But watching Detective Caine and the Spider interact reminds me quite a bit of watching Bruce Wayne and the Catwoman on television as a kid. they are very attracted to each other, but on opposite sides of the law. This is one walk on the dark side that I was too tempted to resist! *****

Reviewed by Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read, 15 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin) (Mass Market Paperback)
I just picked this book based on other peoples reviews and it didn't let me down. It is a fast paced book, with what you want from a sci-fi book. I always pick the first book in the series to read, so that I am able to follow the story of the characters and I am glad I did this with this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant start to an excellent urban fantasy series., 4 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin) (Mass Market Paperback)
I recently read Deadly Sting not realising it was one of a series, I enjoyed it so much that it became a goal of mine to read the first set of the series.

I started reading Spider's Bite as soon as I got it and I barely put it down. It's a fantastic introduction to Gin Blanco A.K.A The Spider, waitress by day at the Pork Pit and deadly Assassin at night.

When she is contracted to kill someone and gets double-crossed she would have let it slide, but the person who contracted her killed her handler, the closest thing to a father she has. So with the help of his son and a detective who is also targeted to be killed, she tracks down the elemental who is responsible and exacts her own retribution.

From start to finish this is a gripping tale with non-stop action, elemental magic and dead bodies galore. I can't wait to get Web of Deceit.

Jennifer's characters are well-written, very complex and very likeable. I can highly recommend this book to anyone no matter what their preference. There's plenty of violence, sex and action for everyone to enjoy.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Set Your Spidey Senses Tingling, 31 May 2013
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Miss Estep is a new author to me and I came by the Elemental Assassin's series via an Amazon recommendation. I have to admit, not bad, not bad at all. The characters are well developed and the plot line keeps you hanging on in there. If I had a couple of complaints they would be the author's tendency to repeat the same lines on numerous occasions - Mmmmm, ten, twenty, fourty nine and the five places Gin hides her knives - but these are small gripes and didn't really detract from my overall enjoyment of the story. I will definitely be purchasing the next book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 18 May 2013
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This book has a strong lead character with Gin Blanco (aka The Spider). She has been an assassin for the last 17 years. Since she was 13.

All the other characters in the book, bring something to the story, there is no-one how i can see as superfluous or un-required in the telling of the story.

The interaction between Gin and Finn was good, you can tell they grew up knowing each other, they just fit like a brother and sister would, bickering at each other etc...

The book ends with a bit of a cliff hanger and you wonder if Gin is going to look further into the information that she has been provided with. I also hope that something more happens between her and Donovan Caine.

I think this is going to be a brilliant series.
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Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin)
Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin) by Jennifer Estep (Mass Market Paperback - 15 April 2010)
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