Saturday, 29 November 2014

Tricks, Traps, And Tangles

It's always a good sign when a writer you look up to comes out with a novel that excites them as much as it does their fans. It's no secret that I've been a huge fan of Jennifer Estep's Elemental Assassin series for a long, long time now. Black Widow is the twelfth novel in the series, and while I love every book in the series, this one could be my favorite so far. Since there are a dozen previous novels, a major spoiler alert is in effect. So if you want to do the smart thing and read from book one on, I'll tell you that Black Widow is thrilling, fun, and intense. A definite page turner with one of the strongest female leads in the urban fantasy genre.

Definitely one of my favorite covers in the series so far!
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.

Having read the previous books, I knew that anyone associated with Mab Monroe was pitch black bad news. But Madeline Monroe proved to be a more wily villain than I could have imagined, knowing how to hit Gin where it would hurt her most– going after her friends and family. It was hard to watch Gin get tangled up in one of her worst messes, and have Madeline be one step ahead. One of the hardest parts to read was the attack on Gin's restaurant, a place that's as much a part of her as her knives. I was shocked, and while Gin's method of survival was very clever, it was a twist I didn't see coming.

But Gin is nothing if not a survivor. She's tough, intelligent, and has a patience I couldn't even begin to dream of. Watching her fight back against Madeline was amazing, and while I expected their conflict to run on longer than it did (and a tiny part of me hoped it would because Madeline was one hell of a villain), it was nice to see her get what she deserved. I absolutely love Gin. She's without question my favorite heroine in fiction due to her witty charm, fierce devotion to her loved ones, her refusal to quit, and her fighting skills, but also her capacity to exact the same amount of suffering on her enemies as they put on her and her loved ones. Gin is not an enemy anyone with a working brain stem would want to make, and I have to admit that no matter how fearsome her enemies are or how dire the situation seems, I find myself sighing and saying, "Guys... You picked a fight with Gin-the-freaking-Spider-Blanco. She literally kicks bad guy ass for lunch. Do you really think you can win?"

While Black Widow is everything I've expected from the Elemental Assassin series, Estep is an extremely talented author and manages to keep every book fresh and exciting. One of the reasons she's been such an inspiration to me is because she's able to create brand new fight scenes, new dangers, and methods of escape. I know what to expect from the books, but Estep also throws in new twists that I never see coming. Like say, the end of Black Widow. Yeah. Didn't see that one coming.

Black Widow was everything I was hoping for when the release date finally came. Estep takes her work to heart and her enthusiasm for this book is as obvious as her skill. I had a fantastic time reading it, and can't wait for Gin to weave her webs around the next foolish fly that steps too far into her parlor.


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