Monday, January 30, 2017

Thoughts: Spider's Bite

Spider's Bite

by Jennifer Estep
Book 1 of Elemental Assassin

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  4.0 Stars

My name is Gin, and I kill people.

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 cold-hearted 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.

I guess, really aside from the fact that this was highly enjoyable and easy to barrel through, I don't know if I have anything constructive to say about it.  Urban fantasy has never really been my genre when it comes to books, even though I've been known to highly enjoy many a television series of the same kind: Charmed, Supernatural... etc.  I've always been a lover of the supernatural and paranormal.  The X-Files was one of my favorite television shows.

But for some odd reason, when it comes to books, I simply don't seem to get along with paranormals--especially if we tag on the word romance.  Paranormal mysteries are an exception, but it's not like I have a whole lot of them I enjoy.  I'm just not sure what the deal is, but I'm wondering if it has anything to do with the format, or the formula... or even the fact that, as a hopeless romantic, I've yet to come across a paranormal romance that I have liked that have both a strong heroine and a non-broody, non-asshole hero.

Because this would be one of the reasons why I may not continue with this series.

Gin is a fantastic character, if a little unbalanced in some character aspects, which I blame completely on the author's outlining.  Because the ending of the book was a bit messy, and Gin acted and reacted in ways that seemed a bit out of character for her based on what I read of her since the beginning of the book.  I say I blame the author, because those last few chapters felt entirely too deliberately set up to maneuver our main heroine into place, exactly where the author needed her to go.

The ending fight scene between Gin and the mysterious, psychotic Air elemental was pretty sloppy.  I had a hard time believing that Gin would end up in a messy, barroom-like tussle with the main villain since she'd been so direct and precise with her kills from page one of the book.  It took her two whole pages to figure out how to meld her non-magic assassin skills with her magical elemental skills into harmony to save her own life.

It took her two whole paragraphs just to realize she still needed to use her non-magic assassin skills.  But it took her all of two seconds to forget she had non-magic assassin skills.  Gin's character had just come off way faster and smarter than that throughout the book; so it was hard for me to believe that she would become so exclusive about both of her skill sets.

I mean, I get that she'd probably never thought of the idea--of combining magic with non-magic skills--because of her tragic past.  But her non-magic skills had presented as second nature to her, so I guess I just didn't understand why she wouldn't have automatically used her non-magic skills just because she decided to start using her magical elemental skills.


While I love that Gin is so kickass and strong... I absolutely do not understand why it's necessary to make our love interest, Donovan Caine, into such a douchebag--a naive, judgmental, holier-than-thou douchebag.  Why on earth is the broody, asshole of a love interest still a thing?  There is always a broody, asshole love interest!

But back to Dear Detective Caine...  I'm sorry, if the entire city is a mess of corruption within and without the city, the government, the law enforcement, and pretty much everywhere, his idealistic accusations against Gin have no leg to stand on.

Because at least Gin doesn't pretend to be a good person while slitting throats.  At least she's direct about her approach to all her kills.  At least she doesn't hide behind a fake mask of do-gooder while committing heinous crimes.  Gin doesn't pretend to be anything else but an assassin.

On the other hand, you've got police officers, detectives, and captains who are pedophiles and murderers.  You've got high society leaders and aristocrats who don't hesitate to murder someone who looks at them sideways.

And Donovan Caine is concerned about one little assassin being the downfall of civilized society?  One assassin who gets her jobs from the paying aristocrats and city leaders?  What makes everyone else above reproach, just because Gin is the one who does the stabbing?  Why isn't good ol' Detective Caine more concerned about bringing down the people who are actually hiring Gin?

No.  Donovan Caine was not a likable character for me.  And I hope that he either comes around, or goes away.  Though whether or not I'll stick around long enough to find out is another story altogether.

The book is written in a serviceable manner--it's easy to read, easy to breeze through, and doesn't take too many detours.  The only complaint I'd have about the writing, itself, are the constant repetitions of descriptions: Finn's aromatic chicory coffee is brought up enough times to make me wonder what the heck chicory coffee is;  Donovan's gold eyes intensely staring at Gin's gray ones a la "gold against gray" or something of the like, that is probably repeated once every other chapter because the two of them do a lot of intense staring at each other;  The fact that all Elementals have their own runes and that the runes are symbolic must have been mentioned every other chapter as well;  Donovan's constant cycling of emotions on his face are mentioned more times than I care to remember.

There is a lot of repetition; and while the book reads quickly and you move right along, I can see this particular aspect getting annoying if it happens in the next couple books as well.

Anyway, I know I said I had nothing to say, but as always, once I get to writing, thoughts get to flowing.

I may or may not continue this series, but as far as Spider's Bite is concerned, it was a highly enjoyable book with a lot of creative world-building, and interesting side characters.  Romance-wise, I actually found myself hoping that Gin and Finn would end up hitting it off or something, but they seem too much like siblings for that kind of relationship to become comfortable.


I am reading this book for Romance Bingo 2017 for the Urban Fantasy Romance square.  Despite there being quite little of romance in it, the subject DID come up in some form, so I'm sticking to it.

I am also reading this book for my 2017 Reading Assignment Challenge.

Other possible Romance Bingo squares:
  • Love is Murder -- Okay, so this isn't a murder mystery or anything, but there's mystery in it and a whole lot of murder... so we could probably stretch it for this one.
  • Interracial Couple -- Donovan is described as being of Hispanic heritage.  Gin even mentions something somewhere that sets her as being of some other race as well, but I can't recall what.

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