Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Spider's Bite: Review & Giveaway

Spider's Bite
Elemental Assassin Book #1
Author: Jennifer Estep
Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Pocket
Available at Indie Bound, Powells, Barnes & Noble

Summary: The Elemental Assassin series focuses on Gin Blanco, an assassin codenamed the Spider who can control the elements of Ice and Stone. When she’s not busy killing people and righting wrongs, Gin runs a barbecue restaurant called the Pork Pit in the fictional southern metropolis of Ashland. The city is also home to giants, dwarves, vampires, and elementals – Air, Fire, Ice, and Stone.

I received Spider's Bite from the publisher for review and as part of the blog tour, but I had been reading really good things about the book and the author before that, so I was thrilled to take part. It's the first of the Elemental Assassin series, which is a gritty, urban fantasy with some very interesting elements. First off, the main character, Gin, is a stone elemental, an assassin and a mighty fine cook. Yes, Gin has taken culinary classes at the local college for years, when she's not knocking off bad guys. I loved this aspect of the character, especially in a darker urban fantasy. Here is an example:

...I had two turkey-and-Gouda sandwiches on chewy pumpernickel bread. I added a kosher pickle and a couple of baby carrots to each plate, along with some double chocolate chip cookies. Color and presentation were the key when it came to food preparation.

Now, the contrast between that scene and this one is amazing:

I flicked my wrist, and the sharp point of the screw zipped across the room and sank into her throat, puncturing her windpipe. Ace. Evelyn's scream turned into a whistling wheeze.

Gin is not a sociopath. She has rules that she lives by; she doesn't kill the good guys, she never tortures, even when they deserve it. The cooking makes sense to me. Gin needs something in her life that is normal, plus I think it's a way of comforting not only herself, but the people she loves.

Spider's Bite is not a romance; it's dark and it's gritty with a fairly rough sex scene. I love complex heroines who kick butt, and Gin fits the bill. If you are a fan of Caitlin Kittredge, Marjorie M. Liu or Kelly Gay then you will love Jennifer Estep.

You can read a prequel short story from the author for free here:

Leave me a comment with an answer to this question: Do you like your urban fantasy where the heroine has a happy relationship by the end of the book, or are you okay with her struggling with romance?

If you don't have an email connected with your Google profile please leave me one in the comments. The contest will end February 28th, 2010 and I'll announce the winner on Monday.