Tuesday, August 21, 2012

REVIEW: Jennifer Estep's Widow Web

Book: Widow's Web

Author: Jennifer Estep

Series: Elemental Assassins

Publishing stats: August 21st 2012 by Simon & Schuster (USA) (today!!)

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Cover Blurb: I used to murder people for money, but lately it’s become more of a survival technique. Once an assassin, always an assassin. So much for being plain old Gin Blanco. With every lowlife in Ashland gunning for me, I don’t need another problem, but a new one has come to town anyway. Salina might seem like a sweet Southern belle, but she’s really a dangerous enemy whose water elemental magic can go head-to-head with my own Ice and Stone power. Salina also has an intimate history with my lover, Owen Grayson, and now that she’s back, she thinks he’s hers for the taking. Salina’s playing a mysterious game that involves a shady local casino owner with a surprising connection to Owen. But they call me the Spider for a reason. I’m going to untangle her deadly scheme, even if it leaves my love affair hanging by a thread.

First line: Breaking into the building was easy.

What I liked: This book unloaded a heck of a lot of backstory, tying together characters in surprising way and fleshing the history and people of Ashland alike. It was a little like being an archaeological dig where for the past six books you know, just know, that there's something more to be found here and then, with this book, a sandstorm strikes and suddenly the revelations are flying a mile a minute. And the best part? Most of the discoveries were Owen-centric. The other element topping my "like" list is the villain. This is the seventh book in the Elemental assassins series and, depending on how you want to do the counting on this, at least the seventh villain Ms. Estep has delivered. Have you ever seen the Adam West Batman series? Almost each and every  villain had a theme and took it to the extreme; everything, from their costume to their henchmen to their crimes followed their theme (case and point: there was Bookworm who had a book theme and left literature based puns as clues, King Tut who had an Ancient Egypt theme and wanted Gotham as his new Thebes, Mad Hatter who had a hat theme and at one point stole hats with their wearer included - the list goes on). Ms. Estep's villains, however, are in a hell of a lot more individualized. With a heroine as powerful of Gin, it can be tough creating a villain that actually comes across as a believable challenge. Not only does Salina drive the back story discovery, she also leaves no doubt she's a contender as well, physically, mentally, magically, even romantically.

What I didn’t like: With this book, my biggest problem regarding these books holds firm. There is a habit in this series for key points - like Gin hearing the whispers from stones, for example, or specific events from past books - to be brought up again and again and again. It's a little like reading watching Murder, She Wrote and having the camera zoom in repeatedly on an otherwise subtle clue. These instances are blended in the narrative better than ever before with this book, but, alas, still persist.

Overall: The ending of this book had me screaming. I couldn't believe Ms. Estep actually went there and had that happen. There was so much to digest, so much emotion to wade through, and then BAM! You get slammed with the one thing you would have sworn going in would never happen. I mean, heck, after the events of the past books, you sort of come to think of elements of sacred. It would be like Ilona Andrews breaking up Kate and Curran or Patricia Briggs killing off Jessie or Jeanine Frost playing the amnesia card or...well, you get the idea. Some things you just do not do to your readers and Jennifer Estep went there, did that, and left us hanging. Otherwise, this was definitely one of my favourite books to date in this series and the next installment, Deadly Sting, cannot release soon enough!

Would I read this author again: Yes - the ending was pretty much a cliffhanger as far as I'm concerned!

My rating: ♥♥♥♥/5

To purchase the book for yourself, you can find it at Chapters.Indigo.ca, Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, or The Book Depository. Enjoy!

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