Elemental Assassin #12
Available November 25th
Source: eARC from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
There’s nothing worse than a cruel, cunning enemy with time to kill—and my murder to plan.
With wicked Fire elemental Mab Monroe long gone, you’d think I could finally catch a break. But someone’s always trying to take me down, either as Gin Blanco or my assassin alter-ago. Now along comes the Spider’s new arch-nemesis, the mysteriously named M. M. Monroe, who is gleefully working overtime to trap me in a sticky web of deceit.
The thing is, I’m not the only target. I can see through the tangled threads enough to know that every bit of bad luck my friends have been having lately is no accident—and that each unfortunate “coincidence” is just one more arrow drawing ever closer to hitting the real bulls-eye. Though new to Ashland, this M. M. Monroe is no stranger to irony, trying to get me, an assassin, framed for murder. Yet, as my enemy’s master plan is slowly revealed, I have a sinking feeling that it will take more than my powerful Ice and Stone magic to stop my whole life from going up in flames.
One of the reasons the Elemental Assassin series continues to be as successful into the double digit installments as it was in the beginning is Ms. Estep's ability to craft the most cunning, sadistic, and beautifully despicable villains for Gin to face down, each one testing her not only on a physical level, but on a mental and emotional one as well. As a result, we don't simply feel as though we're reading the same story again and again with a different bad guy in play, instead we get to watch as Gin's character grows and matures, helped along by friends but even more so by foes; men and women who have a bloody lesson to both teach and learn.
With Black Widow, we're reminded of a time several months ago for Gin (seven books ago for us readers) when she faced another monster bearing the Monroe moniker, a woman who passed her cruelty and her flair for the dramatic to her daughter. What's most intriguing about Madeline however is not her elemental ability (though her acid magic is the stuff of nightmares to be sure), but rather the way in which she comes after Gin. Before Madeline, the impressive array of villains in this series have, for the most part, come at Gin directly, confident enough in their fighting prowess, strength or elemental gifts to challenge a woman with a reputation as fearsome and merciless as their own. They've come with egos and arrogance on proud display, taking their swings at her with all the physical force they have in their arsenal, and while they've brought Gin to the edge of death, none have managed to tip her over.
Madeline, though in possession of a healthy ego of her own, takes a different tack than all those before her, using smarts over brute strength to unleash a seemingly passive multi-pronged attack on Gin and those closest to her. She's clearly watched as Gin has effectively defeated head-on attack after head-on attack, and thus shoves Gin out of her comfort zone, forcing her to fight a very different type of battle than she's used to. One where the cover of night and the flash of her silverstone knives are rendered useless, and she must instead comb her vast knowledge of strategy to win a game played by rules not of her making.
Overall, Black Widow proves that the strength of the Elemental Assassin series is in no way waning, and Gin herself is only getting stronger and more impressive as she goes. Ms. Estep clearly has a reservoir of perfectly hateful villains ready and waiting to throw down their gauntlet for Gin to pick up, and here's hoping we have at least another twelve books on the way to see them try their very best.
Are you a fan of audiobooks? Then check out a clip of Black Widow from Audible!
This book was sent to me by the author free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.