Elemental Assassin #8
Adult Urban Fantasy
Available March 26th
Received through Edelweiss for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Red is definitely my color. Good thing, because in my line of work, I end up wearing it a lot.
people shy away from blood, but for an assassin like me — Gin Blanco,
aka the Spider — it’s just part of the job. Still, it would be nice to
get a night off, especially when I’m attending the biggest gala event of
the summer at Briartop, Ashland’s fanciest art museum. But it’s just
not meant to be. For this exhibition of my late nemesis’ priceless
possessions is not only the place to be seen, but the place to be robbed
and taken hostage at gunpoint as well. No sooner did I get my champagne
than a bunch of the unluckiest thieves ever burst into the museum and
started looting the place.
Unlucky why? Because I brought along a
couple of knives in addition to my killer dress. Add these to my Ice
and Stone magic, and nothing makes me happier than showing the bad guys
why red really is my color.
Coming off the emotionally intense sixth and seventh installments where Gin and Owen faced their respective pasts in the form of ex-lovers, Deadly Sting is a bit lighter in comparison (though still plenty violent as Gin is physically incapable of going any length of time without finding trouble). While certainly action-packed with Gin demonstrating her many and varied skills with a silverstone blade to protect those she loves, this latest Elemental Assassin novel feels more like a middle book than any of the previous installments, the focus remaining almost solely on Gin’s battle with her newest villain as the emotional intricacies that bind our hearts to Gin’s are temporarily placed on the back burner.
The beautiful juxtaposition of Gin’s deadly fierceness with her quiet vulnerability when it comes to matters of the heart has always been a highlight of this series, cementing our bond to a woman we can’t help but feel inordinately protective of despite her obvious capability when it comes to protecting and defending herself. Though she’s proven again and again she’ll let no physical assault from anyone go unanswered, that reaction does not extend to emotional blows, and her tendency to continue to protect those around her from further hurt by not expressing her own is front and center in this installment. While typically this behavior of hers is admirable–something that makes us want to wrap our arms around her and hold tight–there are times when we feel smothered by her capacity for understanding and her rationalization of the feelings of others, her continued silence a heavy burden given we want nothing more than to shout out her pain to those who should be most aware of it even without it being given voice.
Much of our frustration is with regard to Owen (and his relationship with Gin), someone who previously has been a fundamental supporter and champion of Gin and all that she is. Though we certainly understand his need for space after the death of his ex-fiance at Gin's hands, his inability to acknowledge Gin’s feelings because he’s too consumed by his own knocks him down a peg or two on the ladder of our esteem and regard. The fault can’t simply be laid at Owen’s feet alone however, Gin’s aforementioned tendency to keep things bottled up only adding to our collective misery as she continues to spare his broad shoulders the additional weight of her own heartbreak. Just once we would love for the aggressiveness Gin shows in physical situations to extend to emotional ones, wishing she would make Owen (and previously Donovan and Bria before him) aware of how deeply his actions– or inaction–cut.
Even though Deadly Sting isn’t the strongest addition to the series and Gin’s trademark stoicism causes our protective instincts to flare–this time with the desire to guard her against her own silence–we’re still undeniably entertained. Ms. Estep never fails to write a good story; one that keeps us up late reading and then rushing to look up the release date for the next book upon finishing.