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The Spider par [Estep, Jennifer]
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The Spider Format Kindle

4.5 étoiles sur 5 2 commentaires client

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The Spider

Images 1 Images

The day the box came started out like any other.

I opened up the Pork Pit, the barbecue restaurant that I ran in downtown Ashland, right on schedule. Turned on the appliances, tied a blue work apron on over my clothes, and flipped the sign on the front door over to Open. Then I spent the rest of the morning and on into the afternoon cooking up burgers, baked beans, and the thick, hearty barbecue sandwiches that my gin joint was so famous for. In between filling orders, I chatted with the waitstaff, wiped down tables, and made sure that my customers had everything they needed to enjoy their hot, greasy meals.

All the while, though, I kept waiting for someone to try to kill me.

Not for the first time today, my gaze swept over the storefront, which featured an assortment of tables and chairs, along with blue and pink vinyl booths. Matching, faded, peeling pig tracks on the floor led to the men’s and women’s bathrooms, respectively. A long counter with padded stools ran along the back wall of the restaurant.

Since it was after six, the dinner rush was on, and almost every seat was taken. The waitstaff bustled back and forth, taking orders, fetching food, and topping off drinks, and the clink-clank of dishes filled the restaurant, along with the steady scrape-scrape-scrape of forks, knives, and spoons on plates and bowls. Murmurs of more than a dozen different conversations added to the pleasant mix of sounds, while the rich, hearty smells of cumin, black pepper, and other spices tickled my nose.

Everything was as it should be, but I still looked at first one diner, then another. A few folks swallowed and quickly glanced away when they realized that I was watching them, not daring to meet my gaze for more than a second. But most were happily focused on their food and their companions and paid me no more attention than they should have. They were just here for the Southern treats the restaurant served up—not to try to murder me and cash in on my reputation as the Spider, Ashland’s most notorious assassin.

“Gin?” A deep male voice cut into my latest examination of the storefront and its occupants.

I looked over at the man perched on the stool closest to the cash register. Despite his slightly crooked nose and a scar that cut across his chin, he was ruggedly handsome, with intense violet eyes and black hair shot through with blue highlights. His navy business suit and white shirt highlighted the coiled strength in his chest and shoulders, and I wasn’t the only woman who paused to give him an admiring glance.

“Is everything okay?” Owen Grayson, my lover, asked.

My eyes cut left and right one more time before I answered him. “Seems to be. For the moment.”

Owen nodded and went back to his meal, while I grabbed a rag and started wiping down the counter.

Actually, so far, the afternoon had passed in a perfectly normal fashion, with the glaring exception that no one had tried to murder me—yet.

Thinking that I might actually get through the workday unscathed for a change, I let myself relax, at least until the bell over the front door chimed. I glanced over at the entrance, expecting to see some new customers ready, willing, and eager to get their barbecue on.

Only this wasn’t a customer—it was a short, thin man wearing a delivery uniform of black boots and matching coveralls.

The guy glanced around the storefront for a minute before his eyes locked on me, and he headed in my direction. I tensed, eyeing the long white box in his hand, and dropped my right arm down behind the counter out of sight. A second later, a knife slid into my hand, one of five weapons that I had hidden on me. This wasn’t the first time someone had dressed up like a deliveryman to try to get close to me at the restaurant. The last guy was still in the cooler out back, awaiting the skills of Sophia Deveraux, the head cook at the Pork Pit, who also moonlighted as my own personal body disposer.

But the guy stepped right up to the cash register, as though this was a simple delivery.

“I’ve got a package here for Gin Blanco,” he said in a bored voice. “Is that you?”


“Here. Sign this.”

He shoved an electronic scanner at me. I slid my knife into a slot below the cash register, where it would still be out of sight, and took the device from him. The man waited while I used the attached pen to scrawl something that sort of looked like my signature onto the screen. The second I was done, the guy snatched the scanner away from me and shoved the white box into my hands at the same time.

He tipped his head at me. “Have a nice day.”

He started to walk away, but I reached out and latched onto his arm. The guy stopped, looked at me over his shoulder, and frowned, as if I’d violated some sort of secret delivery-guy protocol by touching him. Maybe I had.

“Yeah?” he asked. “You need something else?”

I carefully set the box down on the counter. The seat next to Owen was empty, so I was able to slide it several precious inches away from us. “What’s in the box?”

The guy shrugged. “I don’t know, and I don’t care. I just deliver ’em. I don’t look inside.”

He started to pull away, but I tightened my grip on his arm. “You should really tell me what’s in the box.”

He rolled his eyes. “And why should I do that?”

“So I can be sure that there’s nothing . . . nasty inside.”

Confusion filled his face. “Nasty? Why would you think that?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” I drawled. “Why don’t you check the name on the delivery order again?”

He glanced down at his scanner and hit a button on the device. “Yeah, it says deliver to Gin Blanco, care of the Pork Pit restaurant, downtown Ashland. So what? Is that supposed to mean something to me—”

Comprehension dawned in his eyes as he finally recognized my name and realized who and what I really was. Gin Blanco. Restaurant owner. And, most important, the assassin the Spider.

He swallowed, his Adam’s apple bobbing up and down in his throat. “Look, I don’t want any trouble, lady. I’m just a delivery guy. I don’t know what’s in the box, and that info’s not on my scanner. I swear.”

I kept my grip on his arm, staring into his eyes, but I didn’t see anything but a burning desire to get away from me as fast as he could. Smart man. Still, I let him sweat a few more seconds before I released his arm. “Okay. You can go now.”

The guy whipped around. He had started to take a step forward when I called out to him again.

“Wait. One more thing.”

He froze. He teetered on his feet, and I could almost see the wheels spinning in his mind as he debated making a break for the door. But he must have realized how foolish that would make him look, because he finally turned and faced me again. I crooked my finger at him. The guy swallowed again, but he eased back over to me, although he made sure to stay out of arm’s reach and keep the cash register between us. Very smart man.

By this point, my words and actions had attracted the attention of a few of the customers, who stared at me with wide eyes, as if I were going to whip out a knife and slice open the delivery guy right in front of them. Please. I preferred to be a little more discreet about such things, if only to keep up appearances.

I stared at the delivery guy for a few more seconds before reaching down and grabbing something just below the cash register. He swallowed a third time, and beads of sweat had formed on his forehead, despite the restaurant’s air-conditioning. I raised my hand, and he tensed up more.

I reached up and tucked a hundred-dollar bill into the pocket on the front of his coveralls.

“Have a nice day,” I said in a sweet voice.

The guy stared at me, his mouth gaping open, as if he couldn’t believe that I was sending him on his way without so much as a scratch on him. But he quickly got with the program. He nodded at me, his head snapping up and down, as he backed toward the door.

“Y’all come back now,” I called out. “Sometime when you have a chance to sit down and eat. The food here is terrific, in case you hadn’t heard.”

The delivery guy didn’t respond, but he kept his eyes on me until his ass hit the doorknob. Then he gulped down a breath, threw the door open, and dashed outside as fast as he could without actually running.

Owen raised an eyebrow at me. “I think you about gave that poor guy a heart attack.”

A grin curved my lips. “Serves him right for not being able to tell me what was in the package.”

His gaze flicked to the white box sitting off to the side. “You going to open that?”

“Later,” I murmured. “When we’re alone. If there is something nasty inside, there’s no use letting everyone see it.”

“And if it’s not something nasty?”

I snorted. “Then I’ll be pleasantly surprised. I’m not holding my breath about it, though.”

•  •  •

Owen finished his cheeseburger and onion rings and had a piece of cherry pie with vanilla bean ice cream for dessert, while I spent the next hour working. Slicing up more potatoes for the last of the day’s French fries. Checking on the pot of Fletcher’s secret barbecue sauce that was bubbling away on one of the back burners. Refilling drinks and ringing up orders.

I also took the package into the back and placed it in one of the freezers. I didn’t know what surprises the box might contain, but I didn’t want my staff or customers to get injured by whatever might be lurking inside.

Finally, around seven o’clock, the last of the customers paid up and left, and I decided to close the restaurant early for the night. I sent Sophia and the waitstaff home, turned off all the appliances, and flipped the sign over to Closed before locking the front door.

Now all that was left to do was open the box.

I carefully pulled it out of the freezer, took it into the storefront, and put it down on the counter in the same spot as before. I made Owen move to the other side of the restaurant, well out of range of any elemental Fire or other magic that might erupt from it. Then I bent down and peered at the package.

A shipping order was taped to the top, with my name and the Pork Pit’s address. But there was nothing on the slip of paper to tell me who might have sent the box or where it had come from. All of that information had been left blank, which only made me more suspicious about what might be inside.

And the box itself didn’t offer any more clues. It was simply a sturdy white box, long, rectangular, and about nine inches wide. No marks, runes, or symbols decorated the surface, not even so much as a manufacturer’s stamp to tell me who had made the box. I hesitated, then put my ear down close to the top and listened, in case someone had decided to put a bomb with an old-fashioned clock tick-tick-ticking away inside. Stranger things had happened in my line of work.

But no sounds escaped from the container. No smells either, and I didn’t sense any elemental magic emanating from it.

“Anything?” Owen asked from his position by the front door.

I shook my head. “Nothing so far.”

The lid of the box had been taped down, so I palmed one of my knives and sliced through the material, careful not to jiggle the package any more than necessary. Then I waited, counting off the seconds in my head. Ten . . . twenty . . . thirty . . . forty-five . . . sixty . . .

After two minutes had passed, I was reasonably sure that nothing would happen until I actually opened the box.

“Here goes nothing,” I called out to Owen.

I slowly drew the top off the box and reached for my Stone magic, using it to harden my skin, head, hair, eyes, and any other part of me that might get caught in a blast from a bomb or any rune trap that might be hidden inside. A sunburst rune that would make elemental Fire explode in my face, a saw symbol that would send sharp, daggerlike needles of Ice shooting out at me, maybe even some sort of Air elemental cloud design that would suck all of the oxygen away from me and suffocate me on the spot.

But none of those things happened, and all I saw was a thick layer of white tissue paper wrapped around whatever was inside.

I carefully pushed one side of the paper out of the way, then the other, still holding on to my Stone power to protect myself from any possible problems. But to my surprise, the box held something innocuous after all: flowers.

Roses, to be exact—black roses.

I let go of my magic, my skin reverting back to its normal soft texture, and frowned, wondering who would send me roses. I picked up one of the flowers, mindful of the sharp, curved thorns sticking out from the stem, and turned the blossom around and around, as if it held some sort of clue that would tell me who had sent it and why.

And it did.

Because this wasn’t your typical rose. The stem was a milky white instead of the usual green, while the thorns were the same pale shade. But really, it was the petals that caught my attention, because they weren’t black so much as they were a deep, dark, vivid blue, a color that I’d only seen one place before.

“All clear,” I said.

Owen stepped over to the counter and looked into the box. “Roses? Somebody sent you roses?”

“It looks that way,” I murmured.

A white card was lying on top of the flowers, and I picked it up. Only two words were scrawled across the front in black ink and tight, cursive handwriting: Happy anniversary.

That was it. That was all the card said, and no other marks, runes, or symbols decorated the stationery.

I rubbed my fingers over the card. Not what I had expected it to say. Some sort of death threat would have been far more appropriate. Then again, I hadn’t thought that I’d get a package like this today either. But most troublesome was the fact that the two simple words gave me no clue to the writer’s tone, state of mind, or true meaning. The card, the message, the roses could have been anything from a simple greeting to the most biting sort of sarcasm. If I was betting, though, I’d put my money on sarcasm. Or perhaps a warning. Maybe even a promise of payback, retribution, revenge.

“Happy anniversary?” Owen asked, peering at the card. “Anniversary of what?”

I glanced to the left at the calendar that I’d tacked up on the wall near the cash register. August twenty-fifth. It had happened ten years ago to the day. Funny, but right now, it seemed like ten minutes ago, given how hard my heart was hammering in my chest. I breathed in, trying to calm myself, but the sweet, sickening stench of the flowers rose up to fill my mouth and slither down my throat like perfumed poison. For a moment, I was back there, back with the roses, back in the shadows, beaten and bloody and wondering how I was going to survive what was coming next—

“Gin? Are you okay?” Owen asked. “You look like you’re somewhere far away right now.”

“I am,” I said in a distracted voice, still seeing things that he couldn’t, memories of another time, another place.

Another man.

Owen reached over and put his hand on top of mine. “Do you want to tell me about it?” he asked in a soft voice.

His touch broke the spell that the roses had cast on me, and I pulled myself out of my memories and stared at him. Owen looked back at me, his violet eyes warm with care, concern, and worry. It always surprised me to see those feelings reflected in his face, especially since we’d almost called it quits for good a few months ago. But we were back together and stronger than ever now. More important, he deserved to know about this. He deserved to know why I am the way I am—and who had helped make me this way.

I gestured for him to take his seat on the stool again, while I laid the dark blue rose back down in the box with the others. I kept the card in my hand, though, my thumb tracing over the words again and again. Then I sat down on my own stool, leaned my elbows on the counter, and looked at Owen.

“Get comfortable,” I said. “Because it’s a long story. Funny enough, it all begins with a girl—a stupid, arrogant girl who thought that she could do no wrong . . .”

Revue de presse

“Estep has truly hit the jackpot with this outstanding series!” —Romantic Times

“This series kicked off with a bang, and the action hasn’t let up since.” —Fresh Fiction

"Watch out world, here comes Gin Blanco. Funny, smart, and dead sexy." -- Lilith Saintcrow, author of Redemption Alley

"A raw, gritty, and compelling walk on the wild side, one that had me hooked from the first page." -- Nalini Singh, New York Times bestselling author

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 7120 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 401 pages
  • Editeur : Pocket Books (24 décembre 2013)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • Synthèse vocale : Non activée
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  • Word Wise: Activé
  • Composition améliorée: Activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.5 étoiles sur 5 2 commentaires client
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°122.267 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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Par Poison TOP 500 COMMENTATEURS le 10 janvier 2014
Format: Poche
Le tome 10 des aventures de Gin est une sorte de parenthèse dans la série. En effet, l'auteur a choisit de nous raconter une aventure qui se déroule bien en amont des événements du premier tome et qui sont sensés avoir forgé le caractère de Gin aujourd'hui.
On y retrouvera donc son mentor tandis que les autres personnages ne seront pas là (à moins que...ouvrez bien les yeux, l'auteur leur consacre plusieurs clin d’œil !)

L'avantage de ce parti pris - autre que se laisser du temps pour décider de la suite - c'est que l'héroïne ne vas pas avoir à ressasser ce qui lui est arrivé dans le passé (gros point négatif de la plupart des lecteurs de la série). En effet, elle est encore relativement fraîche et innocente. Plus humaine, plus faillible.

Si l'intrigue en elle-même ne réserve que peu de surprises (j'aurai deviné la plupart des rebondissements très rapidement), on prend plaisir à découvrir une Gin plus jeune et innocente. L'auteur réussit bien à rendre cohérent son évolution et ses choix.
De plus, différents clins d’œil accordé aux personnages sont amusants.

En bref, si ce n'est pas le tome le plus surprenant ou le meilleur de la série, ça reste un bon opus qui nous présente une nouvelle facette de l'héroïne et qu'on lit avec beaucoup de plaisir.
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Par sand le 27 janvier 2014
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Une des meilleures séries d'urban fantasy. L'araignée reçoit des roses qui la renvoie dix ans en arrière. Elle revit ce moment tragique de son existence, cette erreur de jeunesse qui a fait d'elle ce qu'elle est.
Je pensais que l'auteur avait fait le tour de son héroïne et qu'un nouvel ennemi ferait ressembler ce roman au précédent. C'était sous estimé cette auteur géniale.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.5 étoiles sur 5 139 commentaires
57 internautes sur 62 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 This is one book in the Elemental Assassin series that I could have been without 2 janvier 2014
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Well, this is definitely a book in the Elemental Assassin series that I could have been without. I have never liked prequels in the first place so maybe I am a bit biased but I really felt like this book just takes all the bad parts of the series and puts them together in one book.

One of the nuisances with the series is that the author re-tells known facts over and over again. With a prequel this is even more so. Also, unfortunately the book blurb is blatantly false. This book does not at all tell us how Gin ended up in a career where she always have blood on her hands. When the book starts she is already in this career. The book just tells us a sad, emphasize on sad here, little story that Gin went through 10 years ago. A story which is so simple and obvious that you really know how it is going to play out really really early in the book.

Another one of the nuisances with this series is that Gin frequently fumbles and generally behaves in a way that is not as professional as one would expect from a professional killer of Gin’s stature. In this book, given that she is 10 years younger, it is even worse. As a matter of fact the entire story revolves around how Gin just screws things up and then wallows in how stupid she has been. Not only that but pages up and pages down we are treated to the bad guy telling Gin how stupid she has been. Definitely not my cup of tea.

Even though the author tries to weave in many of her friends from the other books and how Gin met them for the first time they are not really there. At least not as the happy “family” that we have grown to like in the previous books.

Since the story plays out before Gin released her ice powers she is also quite weak. There is really not much left of the things that I have liked about this book series in this book. I could really have been without this one. I certainly hope that the next book gets things back on track again.
12 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 read this book even if you don't usually like prequels 30 décembre 2013
Par Ondreea - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Excellent book. I don't know how Jennifer Estep does it, but she makes an assassin completely relatable to the common person/reader. I think it is because Gin is not goodie goodie, nor is she all evil -- she's just a woman with a talent for killing who only wants to do what is right.

At first I didn't know if I wanted to read this book as it is a prequel, but let me assure those who usually don't like a prequel that you should give this book a chance.

Often prequels show the character as a whiny or ditzy unformed character because it's before they have "come into their own". Ms Estep does not follow that failed formulae. Gin Blanco (aka the Spider) is relating the story of who essentially she is as a person in this book. She's not weak and she's not stupid -- overconfident and impatient, yes. In this story you can see how she learned to be so patient and what it cost her before she learned her lessons. You can also see why she had so many hard layers protecting her heart. Another important aspect to the overall Elemental Assassin series is seeing Gin as a touchstone for all of the people who are slowly introduced throughout the series in the various stories.

This book as well as the previous one really demonstrate Gin realizing her dream of a family and all of the things that go along with being a family. Gin's relationship with her foster brother, Finn, is explored a little bit more in this book taking what was shown in Web of Deceit and expanding it. One thing I have liked about the series is Gin is kicka$$ but through the help of friends and family, she prevails. In this book, she prevails on her own because it is what she needs to grow as a character and as a person. It leads to the confident, uncocky heroine we have grown to love in this series.
6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Series is falling into boring... 2 janvier 2014
Par Zeenakwon - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié

Summary: Gin Blanco has received some black roses with a note that simply said, "Happy Anniversary." Owen is curious about her story, so Gin starts to tell a story about a girl who thought she could do no wrong...

Review: A prequel to the whole series, this book felt like much of the same. It had all the good from the previous novels, yet now it just seems to be the same story over and over again. I wanted to rate this book 4 stars, but I couldn't. It was that boring.

Overall, when a series gets to the point of book 10, prequel or not, we are hoping for something fresh to keep the old story going. Unfortunately, this story doesn't provide much of that. We have the same Gin and Finn relationship, her admiration and respect for Fletcher who is alive, bad guys and people to save.

The books are a fun read as usual, but I am tired of the same formula. Stalk bad guy, find out if he's really bad, attempt to kill him, fail, try again. At some point, Gin gets grievously injured and someone she cares about is hurt. Blah blah blah.

Sure Finn's fun lines are there, but where is his character lately? He does nothing, and even from a funny sidekick, I want more depth from Finn. Fletcher was alive in this book, but even he didn't add much depth to his character. Yay, he is alive, but what more is there? We should have learned more about Fletcher.

A prequel is supposed to add depth to a character's background. This didn't, and instead just felt like a huge step back for Gin. Yes, the story is set before all the character development of books 1 through 9. But, why did we need this story? How does it add to the overall arc?

I thought the book's saving grace was Sebastian. He was suave, debonair, and oh so "perfect".

(view spoiler)
That he turned out to be the bad guy, after a hot and steamy sex scene, was a cherry to his character. It's rare in urban fantasy to give us a hot steamy sex scene with a character who turns out to be the bad guy.

Honestly, if Estep can't find a way to make this series original and fresh, the series already done. The series felt finished when Mab died. Now what? How can Gin grow? I can't seem to quit this series, because I love Gin and her strength of character. But I wonder how long I can keep going.

Sex: Steamy sex scene
Violence: Murder and mayhem typical of Ashland

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Series Rating: 4.5 out 5 stars

Quote:"Get comfortable," I said. Because it's a long story. Funny enough, it all begins with a girl--a stupid, arrogant girl who thought that she could do no wrong . . ."

Next Book: Poison Promise out July 29th, 2014
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The Best Prequel I Ever Read - The Origin of The Spider 24 décembre 2013
Par Douglas C. Meeks - Publié sur
Format: Poche
Well I got my ARC of The Spider today and I am hoping to be amazed and enthralled but as a prequel it will have to be awesome to keep those 5 Stars.
Well I wrote that back in Oct 2013 and was not to excited about a prequel in one of my favorite series. It is mid December and I read it all day yesterday because I could hardly put it down, looks like I get to eat some comments I have made about how I hated prequels. It did indeed earn those 5 Stars.

This story starts and ends in the present with Gin and Owen sitting at the counter and a box of roses arrives and triggers an old memory and a story from when she was still a young assassin.

Gin has to do a "job" and things start to fall apart, it is a riveting story of love, betrayal, loyalty and painful lessons learned.

This is one of my favorite series because I am a self-confessed "revenge junkie" and nobody does revenge better than Gin. The thought that this series may be ending make me sad, I hope it does not.

The story here is very detailed and gives us a look into the mind of a much younger Gin and a much less emotionally strong Gin. If I had any problems with this addicting story it was that it was written in a manner that "you can see it ending badly" manner. The thing is you have no idea how badly it would end but it has a great heart warming ending that all fans will enjoy. Gin does go into revenge mode and I of course loved that but those painful lessons I spoke of will make her stronger but you can't help but feel sympathy for her.

This is a book that can be read as a stand alone for a new reader but I would suggest you read them in order since you get a much deeper appreciation for Gin and what she has been through and what she will become. I read late into the night to finish this novel because I could not put it down once I got to the horrible betrayal and knew the much needed revenge would be forthcoming. I love this series and this is one of the best installments which means I won't be complaining about prequels for a long time. Highly recommended.
9 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Review: THE SPIDER 24 décembre 2013
Par Jen Twimom - Publié sur
Format: Poche
Rating: B Liked It - Recommend
Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About
Review copy provided by Edelweiss

Opening in present day, shortly after the events of the ninth Elemental Assassin story, Heart of Venom, Gin Blanco tells her lover, Owen, the gritty details of the events that solidified her place as the deadly assassin, the Spider. The story fades to a time ten years in the past, when Gin is just starting to make a reputation for herself as the Spider. She’s still living at home with Fletcher, working in the Pork Pit, and struggling to find a bit of independence. When a job comes in that Fletcher is hesitant to accept, Gin pushes to take it. Among other things, it’s rumored that the target, Cesar Vaughn, beats his thirteen year-old daughter, Charlotte. This makes it personal for Gin, and she convinces Fletcher to take the gig. As she gets to know her target, she accidentally meets Cesar’s son, Sebastian Vaughn, and falls head over heels.

Every time I open up an Elemental Assassin story, and The Spider is no exception, I am blown away by the intricate details of each setting. I am immediately transported into the scene, fighting and cooking along side Gin. Ms. Estep is an amazing storyteller who writes a detailed descriptive scene like few others. Never too many words or overdone, she weaves a visual masterpiece so perfectly described, that I sit in awe and appreciation.

The Spider is a different story than its predecessors in that the primary tale predates the series by several years. I love how the book opens in present time, and I adore getting a glimpse of Gin and Owen “back to normal” after the events from the past few books. However, the primary story is that of Gin’s past. Like the other books in the series, The Spider reads in Gin’s first person POV, so there is a level of familiarity and comfort. However... This is NOT the Gin I’ve come to love. She is young and immature. So much so, that it truly bothered me. She is blatantly obtuse, blinded by her personal agenda to protect Charlotte. She misses so many obvious clues that would have told her she was going down the wrong path. Honestly, it made it hard for me to get into the story because I was annoyed with her oblivious and immature nature.

However, isn’t that the point?! We are reading a story told from the perspective of a newbie, not the seasoned assassin Gin will become. So in that respect, Ms. Estep does a fabulous job creating a new Gin - a younger version of herself who has potential, but needs to learn a lot before she gets there. While I commend the author on a fabulous job, it still annoyed me, preventing me from completely enjoying the story.

I also have to mention another little thing that set me off while reading the book... several key characters - people important to Gin in the future - make cameo appearances in The Spider. It felt a bit like when I watched The Phantom Menace after growing up loving the original Star Wars Trilogy. Some of the characters were fun to see, and it made sense (or didn’t feel out of place) to see them about town. However, there were a couple that really felt forced, and it bothered me.

Regardless of the minor troubles I had reading the first half to two-thirds of the story, the last third of the book ROCKED! It starts when Charlotte confronts Gin about her father’s death. Gin’s simple, straight forward reply was perfect, and it made me sit up taller and take notice. This is the moment when the Spider is truly born. And from that point forward, Gin owns the story. She grows up and gets smart. I enjoyed reading her thoughts as she plots out her revenge. I admired her fortitude as she comes up against the toughest opponent of her life. Not only is her enemy strong, but a master of emotional and mental manipulation, making the battle more gritty and gutsy. Ah - so, so great!! The final battles are some of the best Ms. Estep has written, giving readers a gripping, smart and simply sublime finish.

All in all, I am once again pleased with Ms. Estep’s work. While The Spider wasn’t my favorite story in the series, the last third was on par with all of the recent Elemental Assassin books. And I give the author credit - she truly captures Gin’s transformation from an assassin to the Spider in every regard. While it was really well done, unfortunately, that is also what made it hard for me to get into the story for most of the book. But once Gin owned the truth, the story jumped to life. It was absolutely wonderful.
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