April 2024
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Series Thoughts: The Elemental Assassin Series, Jennifer Estep

venomThese are my thoughts up to the fifth book of this series. It does continue to a currently available sixth and soon to be released seventh book, but the first five fill a natural plot arch, and seemed a good time to jot down my thoughts on the series. I have reviewed the first book, Spider’s Bite, in with some other mini reviews.

All the books focus on Gin Blanco, who begins the series as The Spider, so named for the silverstone runes that were embedded in her flesh during an attack on her family when she was just thirteen years old. The attack destroyed her family home, orphaned her, and landed her in the street, where she was saved by Fletcher Lane, the man who turned her into the assassin that she is. We learn that the culprit, incredibly powerful Fire Elemental Mab Monroe, is the leader of the gang that effectively runs Gin’s town of Ashland, and that Mab would certainly kill Gin if she connected her with her real identity, Genevieve Snow. Throughout, Gin has to deal with a number of lesser criminals, love affairs, and the complications inherent in most urban fantasy series.

tangled threads

I’ve had a lot of fun with this series, and around the third book, became so addicted that I had to acquire the next two immediately in order to keep going. I’ve read most of it within the space of a couple of months, and have become attached to the characters and very curious about what’s going to happen next. I’m reasonably satisfied with the conclusion of this particular plot arc, but I’m also intending to follow it through to the actual conclusion.

One of the highlights of the series, for me, is Gin’s intense relationships with the people she cares about. She didn’t really need her shell to break down for her to care about people, as she’s been connected closely with Fletcher and Finnegan Lane, Fletcher’s son, since before the book’s beginning. But as the series progresses, we really get to know all of these characters, and to an extent understand why Gin feels the way she does. Her family is full of many different types of people, but all of those are interesting, from Jo-Jo and Sophia, the dwarf sisters, to the flirtatious Finnegan.

spider's revengeThe book also has a number of detailed descriptions of food; Gin is a cook and a baker, and she’ll often prepare a dessert for her friends while discussing some important plot point. This will make you hungry and longing for the various things she’s cooking, whether it’s steak-cut fries (one of her favourites) or some sort of chocolate brownie and ice cream. I did enjoy these and wish I was eating what she was talking about as soon as she started.

One of the big negatives of the series for me, though, is the repetition. The same things are described in every single book at the beginning. Mab is always the Fire Elemental. I learned how Gin got those silverstone runes in her hands, and about the silverstone knives she carries secreted in various places around her body, multiple times per book, I think. I’m not sure if the author assumes we have an impossibly tiny attention span or is simply trying to get new readers into the groove, especially with the plot summaries at the beginnings of each book, but for someone addicted enough to read them right after each other, I will admit that this did get annoying. Gin also has a habit of describing her boyfriends and saying “Mmm” at the end, like she was eyeing a tasty dessert, which put me off as well.

Regardless, this is a series I’ve enjoyed greatly, and would certainly recommend to someone looking for another light urban fantasy read. It’s been a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to continuing Gin’s adventures.


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