Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Review: Black Widow

BLACK WIDOW
Elemental Assassin #12
Jennifer Estep
Urban Fantasy
400 pages
Pocket Books
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.


MY THOUGHTS
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.

Rating: 4/5


Are you a fan of audiobooks? Then check out a clip of Black Widow from Audible!



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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.


30 comments:

  1. I'm so so so late with this series. Really! I tried book 1 years ago and really enjoyed it and I even have book 2 and 3 in French but I haven't read them yet. I really should find the time to do so. It sounds great mainly after so many books.

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    1. It's a really fantastic series, she writes some amazing villains:)

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  2. I had to go back and see which book it was, 12?!

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  3. Wow I am so behind on this series - I can't believe it's on #12! I'm so glad you're still enjoying Gin's adventures, and every time I read one of your reviews I kick myself for neglecting to get on the Elemental Assassin bandwagon. Going to download the audio tonight! Lovely review :)

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    1. I know, it's gotten up to the double digits quickly hasn't it? Hope you get a chance to try this series!

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  4. I'm always happy and amazed at how well this series continues to be! The "perfectly hateful villains" created by Ms. Estep sound like my type of villains, ones that make you jump up-n-down as Gin battles them. Glad this was another great read with a *new* turn of events and new type of villain :)

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    1. YES! Gin is a badass, and it's so much fun to see her test her mettle against so many different types of bad guys:)

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  5. Loved it! Ms. Estep continually amazes me by always making this series seem fresh! So glad Jenny that you hooked me on this one

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  6. This series is going so strong for you, Jenny and I love it! I need to get back to it someday but there are so many books and so little time. I love the sound of the villains. You know how much I enjoy complex and terrifying villains.
    Lovely review!

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    1. It's one of my favorites and I actively stay on top of it. I've fallen behind on so many series, but I can never let myself miss an installment of Gin:)

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  7. Can't wait till next Tuesday. Pre-ordered on audible :) :) :)

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    1. Can't wait to see what you think Felicia!

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  8. "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."

    This is exactly why I loved the first book so much and have been excited about reading the others Jenny, because I just know they are going to be fabulous!

    Wonderful review, I am so excited to continue this journey, it isn't often that you can say after so many books, that the series is still going strong!

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    1. I think you'll fall a little more in love with each book Ali! I know I do:)

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  9. Oh wow, book 12 already!! This series sounds simply fantastic but I'm not sure if I can add 12 extra books all of a suddent to the wish list/TBR pile!
    Great review Jenny!

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    1. Haha I totally understand Pili! 12 is a lot to get caught up on, but on a rainy day sometime soon maybe you can give book 1 a try and see what you think!

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  10. I keep saying I am going to dig into this series, and I intend to. This one and Kate Daniels on audio are at the top of my TBR for 2015. Glad it is still going strong and that you are keeping up with it.

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    1. I need to get caught up on Kate Daniels! *sigh* I'm still on book 4 I think. Fail.

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  11. Oh, good, this seems to be a nice change from the usual! Sometimes, the fact that UF series happen over such short periods of time really makes me uncomfortable, though. Chicagoland has that problem, and so does EA. A few months for Gin, 7 books and more than a couple of years for us. Why not strech that a bit? I don't get it. Things don't have such a big emotional impact for me if I keep hearing that they happened like, 3 months ago (relationships for one).
    Anyway, I'm rambling. I do that sometimes. :)

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    1. I don't know why so little time has passed for Gin in between books, but it's not something that bothers me really. Time isn't mentioned all that much, so it never really feels like things are happening in too rapid a succession. Might just be me though:)

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  12. I know I keep saying this but I really need to read her adult series. But I do have so many books on my tbr pile. The struggle is real man.

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  13. I just finished this story last night and loved it (of course) but I kind of felt like it was the perfect place to end the series. Yeah, I'm thrilled she's not stopping there but it would have been perfect. A rebuild, a new start.

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    1. I agree, it does seem like a logical place to wrap things up, but then again I thought that when Mab died too and I've been really impressed with the way she's kept the series going. I look forward to whatever villain is next!

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  14. Fantastic review Jenny. I have book one of course. I could open a book called, "First in Series" lol. This has so many elements that i love in this genre.

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    1. This series is one of my all time favorites Kim!

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  15. I bought the first three of this series in an Audible deal so I'm thrilled to hear the series is still going strong after so many books! :)

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  16. I've only read (listened to) the first few so I'm way behind but I'm glad it's going well!

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