Monday, September 19, 2011

Review: Spider's Revenge

(Elemental Assassin #5)
Jennifer Estep
Urban Fantasy
400 pages
Available September 27th
Received from author for review

Warning: Review contains mild spoilers

Gin has been plotting her revenge on fire elemental Mab Monroe for years. She's been sharpening her skills as an assassin and continuing the training her mentor and the closest thing she had to a father, Fletcher Lane, taught her in preparation for the moment when vengeance for the death of her mother and older sister would be hers.

Mab only knows a woman by the name of The Spider is decimating the men loyal to her and destroying them one by one, but soon Mab will know that The Spider, Gin Blanco, and Genevieve Snow are all one and the same, and it will be the last thing she knows before she dies.

Because Gin suffers no delusions she'll make it out of her confrontation with Mab alive, she attempts to let Owen Grayson know just how important he is to her, slowly prying open the doors of her heart that so brutally slammed shut as a result of Detective Donovan Caine's rejection. But all too soon her patience with Mab pays off, and it's time for The Spider to surprise her prey.

Through four books we've slowly watched as the tension between Gin and nemesis Mab Monroe has escalated slowly but inexorably, a bloody and painful journey that could only ever have a bloody and painful end. Finally we are given the book where the entirety of Gin's focus is on Mab herself and not a minion or hired villain, and we find ourselves darkly entranced as all of Gin's grief and anger find and target their source, honing in with fine precision and denying us the possibility of reading only a few chapters before returning to the realities of our world. Instead, time has no meaning to us as we read, any plans we might have had for our day or evening abandoned as the glorious fury of Gin's wrath is unleashed on the monster who murders and maims any who oppose her.

Gin is a remarkably constructed character, her skill at dealing death and the ease with which she rends flesh with a unwavering swipe of her silverstone knives things that should make us instinctively uneasy, but Ms. Estep masterfully manages to write inherently human weaknesses and vulnerabilities into the body of the assassin so that connecting with her is ultimately a non-issue. We've read as she's been emotionally eviscerated by a man whose eyes saw only what the word "assassin" made his mind see as opposed to what was actually there, and finally in this story those wounds have almost been entirely healed by the love of a man who sees all the pieces of her–the innocence of Genevieve Snow, the stalwart survivor that is Gin Blanco, and the deadliness of a trained killer known as The Spider–and accepts each of them as necessary to making her who she is. She's been teetering on the edge of taking a leap of faith in her relationship with Owen, and it's incredibly satisfying to see her jump in this story and witness those who have been patiently waiting to catch her get their chance.

The build up and final battle with Mab is spectacularly executed, things for Gin going wrong more often than they go right, ensuring we are beside ourselves with worry and stress the entire time we're reading. Though Gin is a professional killer with undeniable skill, she doesn't simply waltz in and take Mab down in twenty short pages after hundreds of pages of planning, instead she engages Mab in a deadly dance, forced to retreat as often as she advances while making mistakes that just have us rooting for her all the more. Gin's elemental powers have been steadily growing with each book, but Ms. Estep maintains Gin's authenticity in this showdown beautifully, staying true to her and her mental and physical strengths without altering her so that she suddenly knows how to wield her ice and stone magic with the utmost competence. She's the Gin we've grown to love, as much a fighter with fists and smarts as she is with her elements, and we fight beside her every minute of this tale.

Though Spider's Revenge sees the epic conclusion of the Mab Monroe story arc, Ms. Estep leaves plenty of possibilities open for the next two installments (and hopefully beyond) so that there's no shortage trouble for Gin to find moving forward. Gin is one character whom it's a pleasure to watch grow and change, and her band of ridiculously lovable misfits keep some of the darkness at bay with their humor and loyal support of a woman who would sacrifice everything she has and everything she is to spare them the slightest pain. Gritty and violent but also poignant and powerful, Spider's Revenge is one that will not soon be forgotten.

Rating: 5/5


  1. Great review, dying to read this one when it comes out!

  2. Just skimmed your review since I haven't read this series. When I saw the 5/5 rating I thought why haven't I read this series?

  3. I really enjoy reading your reviews of series that I have not read. You entice me every time.

  4. Oh you made this sound so awesome. I love books with great characters, and Gin sounds so intriguing. I'd love to read her story from the very beginning. Thanks for the great review!

  5. I can't wait to read this book!!!! I love this series and thanks for getting me hooked on it.

  6. Van Pham - Thank you! I adored it, my favorite one yet:)

    Nic - I love these books. I don't think everyone will love Gin since she's pretty brutal and unapologetic for what she does, but there's such a great balance to her and that makes her one of my favorite female characters.

    Jan - Thank you! This is a great Urban fantasy series if you ever feel like giving that genre a try!

    Kris - You definitely should, she grows so much in the books and I just can't wait to see what happens to her next.

    Cathy - You're welcome, glad I have someone to obsess with and get hooked on the books I like:)

  7. Oh wow, a 5 star rating?! That's a must read for me. I have the first one on my bookshelf but I haven't gotten around to it. I better bump it up higher on my shelf. Gin sounds like my kinda girl!

  8. Fantastic review -- and a great breakdown on Gin, Owen & Donovan!

    I was very satisfied with the resolution in this book. Gin is one of my favorite female leads.

  9. I haven't read this series...but I seriously love that cover- I want leather hot pants while I stand on a city of destruction.....awesome....

  10. Gah! SO many people LOOOOVE this series... and as you know, I have not freaking read it! *pouts*

  11. You know how much I love this series! I've been waiting for the release of Spider's Revenge in what feels like forever! I'm so excited that it's finally out and that you think it's such a good closer. I simply can't wait to pick it up, Jenny and see everything that happens. Admittedly, I want to see Mab get her comeuppance. *squee* Awesome review, Jenny!! *runs to Amazon to buy book*

    In the Closet With a Bibliophile

  12. Rummanah - Yep! I don't give too many 5's, but I adore this series and this book was the best one yet for me:)

    Jen - Thank you so much! Gin is a favorite of mine as well:)

    Tina - Right? Where was I for the casting call for this cover?

    Ashley - You who loves darkness and death and zombies will probably adore this series:) Though there are no zombies. Just darkness and death:)

    Jen - SO GOOD! I was reading as fast as possible to get to the part where Gin and Mab finally face off. Loved it.

  13. ON MY PRE-ORDER list and will be read immediately :)

  14. Sounds like another series I should add to my ever growing reading list.

  15. She is up to book 5 already? I feel like it was yesterday book 1 came out. Time flies

  16. I had never heard of this series; but I'm quickly falling in love with all things Fantasy, and thanks to your review I've added this to my TBR list!

    (I love the character names in this one; that alone has my attention!)

  17. I'm not familiar with this series but it sounds interesting. I like when a series keeps building and then finally gets somewhere. Sounds like the character does great things in this one.

  18. Never heard of this one, but I love that cover. And if you say it's good, it's bound to be. Thanks Jenny!

  19. I like that rating :D Talk about badass cover, plus the MC sounds awesome! Going to look this one up, thanks for the great review Jenny!

  20. I haven't started this series yet, but it sounds SO AWESOME! If it deserves 5 stars, then it must be amazing! I'm definitely going to start soon!

    Awesome review, Jenny! :)

  21. I just finished this one too. I want to say something but won't so I don't spoil it for anyone but... YES! It was quite a ride!!!

  22. Felicia - YAY! Can't wait to see what you think!

    Jenny - It's a really great series. Darker than some, but so so good.

    Blodeuedd - Right? We usually get 2 a year which is always nice:)

    Jac - So glad you're going to give them a try! I can't recommend these books enough.

    Alison - She writes amazing characters, they're my favorite part.

    Hafsah - Thanks Hafsah, hopefully my opinion won't let you down if you try these out:)

    Aly - Me too. It deserved it:)

    Mimi - It is awesome, one of my very favorites. I read pretty much everything she writes:)

    Melissa - Wasn't it? I was a big emotional mess the entire way through and I loved every second of it:)

  23. I have to admit, I only skimmed this b/c I have not read the series yet. However, I really want to (and I'm not into series). I met the author at the RWA signing and I've actually been picking up these books off and on for a long time at the bookstore.

  24. Jenny!! You have me thoroughly intrigued. ACK my TBR pile grows taller because of you. =P

  25. I'm so glad to see this ends on a high note for you, Jenny! Not too many books/series can do that anymore, eh?

    Awesome review (as usual)...maybe moreso than usual :)

  26. I love the way you described Gin and Owen's relationship, and after 4 books, it's awesome that the showdown between Mab and Gin wasn't disappointing. Your reviews always make me want to give all these series I haven't read a try :)

  27. I just recently started reading this series and can't BELIEVE it too me so long to get around to it. Glad the next installment keeps up the pace and AWESOMENESS!

  28. When I read the first book in the series, I wasn't sure I liked Gin. She was so hard and ruthless -- to me, a hard character to get behind. But, reading your review and others, I think I'll have to give Gin another chance.

    Oh, and I read DRAGON BOUND by Thea Harrison in ONE DAY and immediately downloaded the next book in the series. SOOOOO GOOOOOOD!!!! God, I do love a hot Alpha male. Thanks for THAT great review, Jenny!

  29. You know what? This author rocks! I read Kiss of Frost and fell in love with her writing! I am so picking this book up!

  30. This sounds like another awesome series I need to check out! Gin really does sound like an amazing character. I would love to read more about her. :) Thanks for adding another series to my ever-growing list!

  31. I feel like one of the only people in the world who have yet to read this series! *Shakes head*

    I will make efforts to read it... Soonish.

  32. I was unable to finish SPIDER'S BITE because I just couldn't get into it. But your reviews of the series, and others that I've read, have been very tempting. I look what I see in terms of story arch and character development. And that Cain was kicked to the curb, right off the bat I didn't like him. I'm definitely going to have to give this series another try.

  33. I love spiders story. You give me brilliant one. I am very thankful for this amazing blog post. Now it's time to avail jupiter florida airport for more information.