Review: Spider’s Bite by Jennifer Estep

Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin, #1) 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.

Spider’s Bite by Jennifer Estep
January 26, 2010
Urban Fantasy
Paperback, 384 Pages
Pocket Books

“I’m the Spider. Surely you’ve heard of me.”

Gin Blanco, aka “The Spider,” is an elemental assassin and one of my favorite heroines I have read in an urban fantasy book. I saw this cover and blurb long ago on Sci Fi Guy’s blog and thought it looked like a cool book and after contacting Jennifer Estep, she kindly sent it to me for review. After I read the first chapter I felt compelled to email her and tell her how awesome the first chapter was. Then I read the second chapter and had to stop my stalker self from emailing her again. So yes, I loved this book – and let me tell you why.

The story takes place in the town of Ashland, that borders North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Vampires, giants, dwarfs and elementals are all well known to the public. The city of Ashland is not unlike your normal inner city of today – violence, greed, and politics all play a heavy role. Just because you are an elemental, or a vampire does not give the easy pass to life. Many have fallen on hard times, and homeless and trouble makers crowd the streets.

Elementals are those that can manipulate one of the four elements – air, fire, stone or ice. In Gin’s case, she is very adept in stone. Some of my favorite parts of the book is when she lays her hand on a stone wall, she can hear the vibrations of it’s inhabitants. Is there the low hum that everyone is safe? Is there the carefree vibe of a child? Or are there the frantic, despairing vibrations of murder? That is not the only way Gin can manipulate stone – she can make buildings fall, she can even turn herself into “stone” making her skin impenetrable.

When younger, she watched a fire elemental destroy her family, as she lay bound unable to help. During that time, a rune with a spider web shape was burned into her palm, hence her nickname. Living off the streets and homeless, she meets Fletcher Lane, owner of the Pork Pit, a place Gin will learn to call home, and he takes her in, and becomes her family. He also becomes her handler and teaches her to become the superior assassin she is today.

Her latest job he assigns to her is to take out Gordon Giles, an air elemental and CFO for Halo Industries, who has been a bad boy and dishonest in keeping the books. Halo industries is a company plagued with scandal and rumors and it is unclear who took the hit out on Gordon. With the complex politics surrounding the company, Gin soon realizes this hit may not be as straight forward as she thought.

Gin finds Gordon at the orchestra that night, just as planned. What does not go as planned is Donovan Caine, one of the only cops on the force who is not deep into bribing, is in the box with Gordon. Gin killed Caine’s partner a couple of months ago, and Gin has been on Caine’s radar since then. Because of that, Gin has always kept an eye on Caine. Distracted by this development, Gin doesn’t hear the man coming up behind her. After Gin kills that man (I mean, come on – she is the Spider!) her night is nowhere near done. In fact, her life is about to take a drastic change. Gin is pissed, and a pissed off assassin is never a good thing.

Spider’s Bite is a bold book. Violent, gritty, dark and fabulously written. Gin does not hold back – ever. She is an assassin, period. She doesn’t necessarily relish in killing, but it is her job, and she does it efficiently, and very, very well. The people she kills normally have a track record and she never kills kids or pets, but in reality, she is still a killer.

For all the violence Gin creates, she is a very likable heroine. Growing up without a family, when Fletcher finds her and she starts to call the Pork Pit home, they become they most important people to her. She is loyal, and kind to those that matter to her. She relishes in careful domestic chores, like cooking. The mundane task of creating a sandwich is very important to her.

After the night that goes terribly wrong at the orchestra, Gin finds herself having to work with Detective Donovan Caine. Under normal circumstances, Caine would give anything to prosecute Gin, but there are many twists in the story, (ones I can’t go into) and all of a sudden, he has to help Gin, to bring others to justice. He is almost disgusted he has to work with her – he has such absolute hatred for what she does. At the same time, he is physically attracted to her, and I think that disgusts him even more. The attraction between these two could have very easily soured – if he hates her that much, you must ask, why is he attracted to her? However, Caine’s life starts to crumble in this book and as he spends time with Gin, although he never accepts her chosen profession, he comes to understand (just a little) who she is, where she came from, and why she kills. The sexual tension slowly builds in this book, and Caine becomes so conflicted – to watch him struggle and try to accept what is happening in his life is a really great part of the book. For as much violence is in this book, there are very sexy moments.

Caine is not the only interesting character we come to meet. Gin also works closely with Finn, Fletcher’s son who Gin jokes is worse than an assassin – he is a banker! Finn likes his women and money, but is like a brother to Gin, and they have that sibling banter throughout the book. Jo-Jo, a dwarf who heals Gin, and Sophia her sister who gladly disposes of all the bodies Gin leaves in her wake.

Spider’s Bite blew me away. A very dark urban fantasy with characters you will not be able to forget.

Rating: 5/5

Recent Reviews:

Jennifer Estep’s website.


  1. Leontine says

    Wonderful review Mandi, Jennifer Estep managed to put herself on my radar too with Spider's Bite :) I'm glad we're getting two more novels in this series.

  2. Katiebabs a.k.a KB says

    Looks like a very different book from what Estep used to write with her superheroes. Those were funny and cute.

    This is definitely on my TBR list.

  3. Smokinhotbooks says

    I realize I like all books that have Bite in the title. Some Girls Bite, Friday Night Bites etc so I will probably heart this one as well.

    Question, will I become obsessed with this series as well? You know my OCD about reading series…

    Great review!!!

  4. Danielle87 says

    Great review! Every time I came to your blog and saw the cover of 'Spiders Bite' on the left toolbar I always thought "huh, that looks good – but I'll wait until Mandi reviews it before I buy".
    Well I am definitely buying now!

  5. Eliza Gayle says

    I already had this title on my to be bought list but now I want it now. :( I will Never NEVER again make a pact that involves me not buying new books for a while. lol

  6. Mandi says

    KB – Yeah, I have been hearing this might be a different book…I haven't read any of her earlier stuff.

    Smokin – umm…I don't know…this is dark..and not a lot of smex…but I think you should try it!

    Blodeuedd – Yay! Read it :)

    FV – I do like to stalk ;)

    Danielle – hehe..yes, I like to tease. No – I know you will love this one!!!

    KV – wash the paws before touching the book! ;)

    Eliza – Oh no..never say those words..those are scary words!! :)

  7. Melissa (My World) says

    OUTSTANDING!!! So far one of the best reviews of the book I have heard. You have really given me a great insight on the book. I have to have this book!!!


  8. Michele L. says

    I have heard rave reviews about this book all over the place! I definitely want this book! Jennifer is a super, fantastic writer and oh so creative!

  9. Donna [F.D. Ramblings] says

    I just finished Spider's Bite. Dang! I didn't want it to end. It's a book I wish was a 1000 pages long. Your rating is spot on!

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