Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Very good and very gritty. Gin is absolutely lethal. Killing someone is just a job to her. Not that she kills just anyone, but if you're on her radar for death, you get dead very quickly. I found her character very credible. I won't deny that I sort of have a fascination with fiction stories about assassins. This is a good one. Estep builds a three-dimensional character here with Gin. She's not evil, but she's not a a saintly person either. How can you be when you kill people for a living?
That's where the grays come in. If you knew what some of the folks she's killed have done, then you might not count it as such a loss. Ashland is a place full of dark souls, you see. The whole place is corrupt to varying degrees, except for Donovan Caine. He truly is the only honest man in this place. So imagine the dilemma when they discover an attraction between them. Between the cold-hearted (but warm-pantsed) assassin and the straight arrow cop. Yeah, that makes for quite a conflict.
If you like magic noir, definitely check this book out. If you like bad*ss women who know how to get the dirty jobs done, definitely check this out. If you have a problem with women who are a bit callous about sex, you might have a problem with Gin. I'm not big on that trait in a heroine (or a hero for that matter). I did like how she does the pursuing when it comes to Donovan. That was kind of cute. And she can be a bit of a bully when she wants to. I can understand why her character is that way, having lost her family and lived on the streets. It's made her into a hard woman, one who doesn't let anyone make a victim out of her. For all that, she does have a sense of honor. At least someone does in this place. As for Caine, he was a bit self-righteous at times. I totally respect his sense of honor, but I think he needs to open his mind a little and ask the whys instead of just blindly following. I find it hard to believe he was completely oblivious to the corruption in his police department. I think he was just willfully ignoring it. A bad tree cannot produce good fruit and vice versa. If his partner was doing that horrible stuff, why didn't he have a clue? I like that Gin didn't try to defend herself to him. Why should she? She was true to herself, and he had to accept her or leave her. Either way. I like that he can't put her into a box and forget about her either. Too bad Gin can't get this cop out of her mind either. That relationship is fraught with issues.
The magic was cool. I liked the concept of elementals, and how many folks in Ashland had elemental magic. I liked the use of runes to identify people, and how it was used to seal magic, if you will. The vampires felt sort of extraneous, but maybe that's because I'm jaded with vampires being in every single urban fantasy series!
Overall, this was a very good book. Gin is a very lethal, fascinating character. I didn't like everything about her, but I liked a lot. I loved that she was so bad*ss and capable. She does a lot of the saving, but she also works together with others, so there was balance in that. Donovan is an interesting love interest. It should be entertaining to see where things go with that angel. I also liked the foodie aspects (being a big foodie myself), and the glimpses of Southern life and society. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy enjoy dark, gritty urban fantasy, and tough female leads. I will definitely continue this series!
Thanks for recommending this book off my tbr pile, Suzi!
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