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I Belong

Early Review: The Spider by Jennifer Estep

The SpiderTitleThe Spider

AuthorJennifer Estep

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Elemental Assassin (Book 10)

Publication Date: December 24, 2013

Format: Paperback, 400 Pages

ISBN-10: 1451689012 (Pocket After Dark)

ISBN-13: 978-1451689013 (Pocket After Dark)

Reviewed by: Steph


The tenth book in the bestselling and “outstanding” (Romantic Times) Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series finally reveals for the first time the origins of Gin Blanco’s career as the deadliest of assassins.

For the first time, the origins of Gin Blanco’s career as the deadly assassin “the Spider” are revealed in full. In a story that pre-dates the other nine books in the series, Gin Blanco goes through her paces to become the most feared assassin in the Ashland.

Quick & Dirty: Today, Gin Blanco is the famous assassin known as The Spider. Ten years ago though, she was 20 years old and just starting to build her reputation. Then she gets a contract that will change her life forever…

Opening Sentence: The day the box came started out like any other.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

As I sit down to write this, I’m torn between giving The Spider 4 or 5 stars. While there were definitely things I did not like, by the time I finished the book, I was riding an incredible book high that was making me want to start the series over again. For that feeling alone, I think I have to go with five stars because that feeling just doesn’t happen that often.

It’s a normal day at the Pork Pit for Gin Blanco, the woman who’s more famously known as the assassin The Spider. The normalcy changes when a man shows up with a delivery of dark blue roses. The sight of the roses brings back old memories, leading Gin to share with Owen the story of something that happened to her 10 years ago…

Gin’s 20 years old, living with Fletcher Lane, the owner of The Pork Pit and the man who took her in when she was 13 and began training her as an assassin. Her reputation is slowly building and she receives a contract to kill Cesar Vaughn, the owner of a construction company who’s recently come under fire for a restaurant terrace collapse. More important to Gin is the fact that Cesar is abusive to his daughter. After everything she’s been through, Gin isn’t going to let an innocent girl be hurt. Little does she know how much this contract will affect her life.

We’ve seen brief flashbacks before in previous novels, but it was very interesting to have an entire book from a younger Gin’s perspective. She’s not quite the same Gin we’ve come to know, and at times, that was a little frustrating to me. I’m so used to 30-year-old Gin and how she operates; a 20-year-old Gin – who makes naïve 20-year-old mistakes – was foreign to me. In the end though, she’s still Gin, and it was very interesting to see how this event helped make her into the person she is now.

The best thing about the book in my opinion is we get to see a lot of Fletcher. Again, we’ve seen him in flashbacks before, but here, he is a constant presence, and I loved getting to see him and Gin interact. It helped me better understand what exactly Gin lost back at the beginning of book one.

Aside from having to adjust to 20-year-old Gin’s way of thinking, one other thing annoyed me: the repetition is back. In the past couple of books, I haven’t really noticed the often criticized repetition of certain facts, but this time, it was back in full force. Maybe it was an attempt to recap information for new readers since this is, in some ways, a prequel, but for people who’ve read the first 9 books, it was rather annoying.

That being said, I still sped through this book and ended up really enjoying it. While those new to the series may be ok to read this book first, there are many glimpses of now familiar faces to those readers who’ve been with the series from the beginning. Despite some issues, I was left with the overwhelming desire to start over with the series. I’m sad to be caught up, but very much looking forward to the next book.

Notable Scene:

Hurting any kid for any reason was unacceptable, but what really pissed me off were the folks like Vaughn. The ones with enough of that money, power, magic, and prestige to get away with it. The ones who could afford to hire an Air elemental healer to cover up the bruises and broken bones that they’d given their children. The ones who thought nothing of hitting their sons and daughters again and again, because they enjoyed the sick thrill and the illusion of power it gave them. Those were the sort of people who made my blood boil, the ones I was all too happy to target as an assassin.

Cesar Vaughn wasn’t going to hurt his daughter ever again, not if I could help it.

“I’m going to save you from him,” I whispered.

Elemental Assassin Series:

1. Spider’s Bite

2. Web of Lies

3. Venom

4. Tangled Threads

5. Spider’s Revenge

5.5 Thread of Death

6. By A Thread

7. Widow’s Web

8. Deadly Sting 

8.5 Kiss of Venom

9. Heart of Venom

10. The Spider (December 24, 2013)

11. Poison Promise (July 29, 2014)


FTC Advisory: Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster provided me with a copy of The Spider. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.


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