Thursday, April 21, 2011

Review: Tangled Threads

TANGLED THREADS (Elemental Assassin #4)
Jennifer Estep
Urban Fantasy
384 pages
Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster
Available April 26th
Received from author for review

Gin's retirement from being the assassin known as the Spider isn't really working out the way she'd planned. She's more active than ever after declaring war on Mab Monroe, the fire elemental responsible for murdering her mother and older sister, killing the woman's men one by one and leaving behind her spider rune as a calling card to be sure Mab knows just who's after her.

But Mab Monroe has never been a woman to sit idly by while she or her multitude of legal and illegal business ventures are being threatened, so she hires an assassin of her own to hunt down The Spider and eliminate her.

While plotting to kill the new killer in town, Gin is also exploring a new relationship with prominent businessman Owen Grayson, recovering still from the damage done by Detective Donovan Caine when he left town in a haste to escape his unwanted feelings for her and her chosen profession. If one fledgling relationship wasn't enough to deal with, Gin is also working on rekindling a connection with her baby sister Bria, the woman who just happens to be the detective in charge of finding and stopping The Spider. With new relationships forming and old scores to settle, Gin's retirement has never been so far away.

The fourth book in the Elemental Assassin series, Tangled Threads is yet another face-paced thrill ride, but where the earlier books focused primarily on the action and the impressive battle skills Gin possesses, this latest installment begins to weave new layers of complexity. This complexity comes in the form of character maturity and emotional growth, a development that lures us deeper into the story just as Gin's assassin namesake might entice its prey to step deeper into its web. While still dark, gritty, and unequivocally brutal, we find ourselves slowly inching our way under Gin's defenses and getting a peek at the heart of the proven fighter, the loyal friend, and the scarred little girl who's just beginning to find her sense of self-worth. We start to see Gin dare to hope–hope that maybe her heart isn't as black as she's always thought, and perhaps it might just be big enough to allow another person entry.

The relationship between Gin and Owen is a highlight of this story, the deep rooted scars left by Donovan's betrayal and abandonment starting to heal as a result of Owen's persistent affections and withheld judgment. Her understandable fear that the bloody hands, the sharp knives, and the questionable nighttime activities will eventually blind him to the woman herself slowly begins to recede, replaced by a warmth and wealth of emotion that both frightens and excites her. We can't help but smile as we will her to open herself to Owen as she never has before, finally believing herself to be as deserving of acceptance as we certainly know her to be. With Owen's steadfast dedication to her and his unchanging opinion no matter what she reveals to him, Gin begins to see that being in this particular relationship doesn't necessarily mean she has to choose between being the assassin with her own sense of justice and being a woman worthy of love, but rather can be a blissful combination of the two–both uniquely flawed and flawless–as she sets out to remedy the wrongs done unto her and others.

In addition to creating a captivating relationship, Ms. Estep is also incredibly gifted at writing novels that introduce an immediate threat to Gin and those she loves, revealing page by page a story wherein the foe is dealt with in typical Gin fashion, but she also seamlessly threads the ongoing threat with Mab Monroe through the middle of events so we never lose sight of our ultimate villain. With every Gin adventure we are brought ever closer to the suffocating blackness emanating from Mab in fiery waves, and while we know a showdown of unfathomable proportions looms not far in the distance, Ms. Estep creates a series of believable intermediate evildoers whose roles serve a specific purpose in helping Gin accomplish her vengeance against Mab.

The only minor flaw to Tangled Threads is the at times repetitive nature of the writing, with certain names, elemental gifts, or character associations being explained to us again and again as though we lack the ability to retain information we read twenty pages prior. Though this repetition will certainly be helpful to those who decide to read this book without picking up the previous three, for those of us who are avid fans and eagerly devour each page of every book, the constant reminders can be a bit distracting. Small drawback aside, Ms. Estep adds another brilliant story to her already impressive resume, and the countdown to Gin's next appearance in Spider's Revenge has certainly begun.

Rating: 4/5


  1. I feel like I'm the only person who just could not get into the first book (it's been languishing on my nightstand for awhile now). Your review makes mw want to give it another try, especially if she finds somebody better than the first guy (I never liked him).

  2. This is the first I had heard of this series. Sounds like a great action-packed read.

  3. Great review! Like Jennifer, I had a hard time with the first book, though I did make it all the way through (too a lot longer than usual). I haven't picked up the other books in the series but I'm thinking that I might give it another try.

    I seem to remember reading somewhere that Jennifer Estep has a YA coming out soon. Do you know?

  4. I went to NetGalley and picked this one up so I can read it right after finishing Venom. In Venom she did a bit of the repetitive thing too but I am seeing a lot of that lately (so I wonder if it is an editor demand?)

    Great Review!

  5. Jennifer - I tried really hard to like Donovan, but after book 2 I gave up and am solidly in favor of Owen. He's so much better!

    Nic - I adore these books, Gin is awesome:)

    Mary - I think the series gets better as it goes, we get to see Gin a little bit more vulnerable which makes it easier to relate to her.

    Jennifer does have a YA series coming out soon, Mythos Academy, and the first book called Touch of Frost comes out July 26th. I've actually read it and it's really good:)

    Felicia - Can't wait to see what you think of it!

  6. I should read the first book in the series! I have a huge list of urban fantasy books I want to read since I'm relatively new to the genre.

  7. I am such a big fan of this series! I just love it so much! I am jealous of everyone who got Tangled Threads early! I can not wait to read it! I am glad to know that there is more Owen in this book. I am a fan of his for sure!

  8. I've got the first book of this series in my "get from the library list". It definitely looks like something that I'll enjoy.

  9. I love this series and each book provides further development of the characters and draws you into the continuing storyline. Ms. Estep is a very talented writer and I can't wait to see how this saga plays out. Thanks Jenny for introducing me to the author and series.

  10. Thanks for the great review, it's open and honest. "Ms. Estep is also incredibly gifted at writing novels" comment, made her series a definite on my TBR list. Can't wait.

  11. Misha - You should! The series gets better and better, and Gin just keeps growing as a character and I adore her:)

    Shannon - I love Owen so much! I'm so glad he's playing a bigger role now, I hope that trend continues:)

    Rummanah - I hope you give it a try, I love it!@

    Cathy - You're welcome, you know I like to get everyone addicted to the books I'm reading:)

    Anonymous - Glad you added it to your TBR, I don't think you'll be disappointed:)

  12. Hmm, I think you featured Owen as your book boyfriend if I remember correctly. I'm glad to see the relationship is developing between Owen and Gin since I know you're a romantic :)

  13. *jumps up and down* I'm reading it now! Whee!

    Donovan... to put it simply... is a jerk. Not good enough for Gin. Is an Ass. Can you tell I just luv Donovan? :P

    Oh I'm glad you enjoyed it as I'm enjoying it now! Whee! *drools over Owen*

  14. I have seen this author name around quite a bit. I may have to pick her books to see what all the buzz is about. Plus, I'm starting to get into urban fantasy books. Thanks for the review Jenny!

  15. I only read book 1 and felt like it wasn't for me. Dunno why since I love UF

  16. Zahida - I most certainly did feature him and I'm definitely a romantic. He's just so different from Donovan and I love that's she's starting to trust him not to hurt her:)

    Melissa - YAY! I had to wipe the drool from my chin repeatedly while reading Owen's scenes:)

    Savy - If you like UF I would give them a try, Gin pretty much rocks:)

    Blodeuedd - Too bad! Sometimes certain books just aren't the right fit.

  17. I haven't heard of this one. It does sound like an interesting series. It's interesting when a series changes from action to character growth. Nice to have that variety.

  18. Oh, and thanks for the long post advising me on the paranormal books. The longer the better :-)

    I actually picked up Darkfever from the library yesterday b/c it happened to be there. I think I'll pick up Dark Lover too, because I'm just so curious about the series.

  19. Okay, I'm just going to stop saying "beautifully written review..." on your reviews, because they all are. We can abbreviate it. BWR. Anyway, I haven't even heard of this author. Obviously you must like this series if you're up to book 4. I'll keep my eye out for her. I like the cover on this book too.

  20. Alison - I love that we're getting more growth from Gin, she's just starting to let that guard down and it's so much fun to read. And if you start Dark Lover, you'll have to let me know your thoughts. If you're not sure after you read it, maybe give Rhage's book a try, you get to know Z and Bella a bit in that one and their book and John Matthew's (book 9) are my favorites:)

    Pam - Ha! Thank you:) I do very much enjoy this series, she writes such great characters I think!

  21. Absolutely love this series! I never read much urban fantasy before Estep and now I am really starting to enjoy it..:)

  22. Man I need to start this series!!! I got my mom the 1st book and she's read them all...loves it! I'll have to let her know there's a new one coming out!!!! Glad to hear the series is still going strong.

  23. My book has shipped and cannot wait to get my hands on it after reading you and Larissa's take on this book in the series Jenny! Not only am I anxious to experience the adventure with Gin in this one for myself but it sounds like probably the most exciting one of the series!

  24. I agree with you 100% percent! Awesome review Jenny! =D

  25. I have heard lots of good things about this series, I must get a-reading them! Thanks for the great review Jenny!

  26. Couldn't agree more! This series is spectacular and I highly recommend the fourth book in audio format, but Jennifer, you're not the only one who had a hard time getting into the first book. It takes a while to fall for Gin, in my opinion. I did have to put some effort into the first few hours of the audiobook, but boy am I glad I did!

  27. I keep hearing all these great things about Owen. I need to meet this dude. And I did get through the Fever series so I can do repetitive. hehehe

    There are just too many great series and not enough mes to read them all. :(