Monday, December 3, 2012

Rosy's scrawled book recommendation: A Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep

A Spider's Bite
Jennifer Estep


My name is Gin Blanco. They call me the Spider — the most feared assassin in the South (and a part-time cook at the Pork Pit BBQ joint.) As a Stone elemental, I can hear the whispers of the gravel beneath my feet and feel the vibrations of the soaring mountains above me, though I don’t use my powers on the job unless I absolutely have to. Call it professional pride.

After a ruthless Air elemental double-crossed me and killed my handler, I’m out for revenge. And I’ll exterminate anyone who gets in my way. I may look hot in a miniskirt, but I’m still one of the bad guys. Which is why I’m in trouble when irresistibly rugged Detective Donovan Caine agrees to help. The last thing a coldhearted killer needs when she’s battling a magic more powerful than her own is a sexy distraction … especially when he wants her dead just as much as the enemy.

Pocket Books


Rosy's scrawlings on A Spider's Bite
A Spider's Bite is a quick paced fantasy where people who can wield elemental magic expertly are often caught up in deadly battles with human and non-humans alike. There are a few magic wielders who can handle more than one type of elemental magic but usually excel in only one. For Gin that is stone magic but she can work a little ice magic when needed and she puts her magic to use, along with her fighting skills, in killing and surviving. Her kills are often brutal but rarely are they without cause, especially if they take place in Gin's Pork Pit BBQ joint. Her only rules are that she won't kill the innocent, children or pets. She also tends to use her magic for protection/defence (by turning to stone) and detection (by feeling presences within stone houses) more than to attack/offense.
Gin Blanco is an anti-heroine. She is an assassin and all that comes with the job. She's driven by her job but also by the mysteries of her past, including the murder of her family. She doesn't excuse herself though, owning up to being a bad guy right from the start. She's a woman from the shadier side of life and she doesn't pretend to fight for a just cause. Instead, she works to survive, find out what she can about her past and honour those who gave her a future. When Fletcher, her handler, is killed Gin wants nothing more than revenge but to get it means teaming up with a detective who'd love to see her dead. It reads almost as though she's meeting out justice but, as you'd expect from an assassin, few if any live to see a day in court.
The city of A Spider's Bite is as dark and corrupt as many other dark fantasy cities but this one is a city built using magic as much as the might of wealth and industry. What is distinctive though, is seeing the cityscape through the eyes of one in tune with stone. The city sways between non-reactive to fairly humming depending on Gin's use of stone magic, giving the city an extra element not normally found in urban fantasy.
While there are a few issues to be patient with in the first book, keep in mind that this book sets up a series. There are long chunks of information somewhat awkwardly placed but once you've read them you can delve into Gin's world freely. Romance is included in the story but it too is awkward, both because of Gin's circumstances and the way she views Detective Caine (and he her). There's something very young and naive in Gin's mindset when it comes to romance and also something very old and cynical, resulting in lust being the main factor in her appreciation of Caine. To be fair, he's pretty lust driven too and later on in the series he gains a rival. So while A Spider's Bite may have a few issues that grate at first to those who like to analyse what they read there is much play involved, along with gory battles, non-humans, magic skills, good cooking, spy games, police corruption, murders and assassinations. A Spider's Bite and the books that follow are like urban fantasy action movies where you end up siding with one person who's not quite as corrupt as most others, knowing full well that bloody vengeance is about to be dealt out and laws broken left, right and centre. It is a book for the playful.

I'd recommend this book to: those interested in assassin stories, dark fantasy, urban fantasy with magic systems included and no-holds-barred heroines. The series is likely to appeal to women more than men as not only is there a female protagonist but sexuality is included in her character.

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