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by Jennifer Estep

Published by Pocket Books, 2017

an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

ISBN: 978-1-5011-4277-7

The latest author giveaway novel this pedometer geek read was Jennifer Estep’s Snared, the sixteenth book in her Elemental Assassin series. This will be less of an extended review than an overview of what makes this series so much fun to read.

To backtrack, I first discovered this author when I was fortunate enough to win one of her YA novels, Crimson Frost, through a Shelf Awareness Book-Buzz giveaway. It was the fourth book in the Mythos Academy series, I soon realized. Thus, I didn’t want to jump into the series somewhere in the middle so I went back and read all the preceding books including most of the short story extras, before tackling it. I then finished the rest of the series.

Having enjoyed the humor and language of the Mythos Academy series, I was hooked on Estep’s easy, comfortable writing style. I then moved on to her Bigtime series, this time making sure I read the first book in the series onward, and except for, perhaps, Fandemic and Nightingale, I have read them all. With this series, I became even more enthralled as I found her hidden gems (Easter eggs) in the series to series references. Only in retrospect did I realize that they were there in the Mythos Academy, but I digress.

Finally, in between reading her other YA series, the Black Blade series, I finally began to read her adult series, the Elemental Assassin series starring the incomparable Gin Blanco, who is also known as the Spider. Despite my arachnophobia, this is one spider I love!  This is urban fantasy at its best with a smart, sassy heroine, who just happens to kill people because she is a well-paid assassin. She takes no prisoners as she literally kicks butts, slices, and dices up baddies:  dwarves, giants, vampires, and humans with elemental powers with her handy silverstone knives. Yet, she takes her share of getting her butt kicked along with other sundry injuries, too. Paraphrasing here, “Someone is going to get dead.”

From the first book in the series, Spider’s Bite, Estep builds the world of Ashland’s Elementals, people who can control elements like Fire, Ice, Stone, and Air. It should be mentioned that these characters are represented by their runes, symbols of their powers. Depending upon the person, control over a particular element can be used for good or ill. In the case of the protagonist, Gin Blanco is a rare double Elemental, which means she  can control two elements: Stone and Ice.

The author introduces her characters and their back-stories carefully, giving just enough information on a need-to-know basis, yet she never tricks the reader. Throughout the series, Gin experiences a whole gamut of emotions, from love to hate to revenge to betrayal, and so much more.

With each successive novel in the series, the journey of Gin Blanco (and crew) is continued with each story building on the previous ones; yet each story stands on its own merit. Moreover, the plots remain fresh with unexpected twists and turns; this is not a cookie cutter series; how Gin deals with each new situation is different, and often unique. The ancillary characters introduced throughout the series are as integral to the plots as Gin Blanco herself. For example, who wouldn’t love Finnegan Lane, Gin’s foster brother?

Lest it not be obvious, this is adult fiction (18+). Yes, there are paranormal, fantasy elements, but there are some spicy moments and strong language as well. As may be imagined, there are descriptions of violence, too (Hey, she is an assassin; she kills people!); however, having said that, there is plenty of humor to be found in the pages, either through the situation or the dialog of the characters.

Which brings me to the sixteenth book in Jennifer Estep’s Elemental Assassin series: Snared. With few spoilers as I hope you read this book and the others, the review:

This novel in the series takes Gin Blanco in a new direction. She desires to track down the Circle, a  secret group operating in Ashland, and her focus is looking for information on the members of the group. However, her plans are derailed when she is contacted by Jade, a friend and colleague. Jade begs Gin to find her sister Elissa, who has gone missing, vanishing without a trace.
Tracking down the girl leads Gin down a dangerous and twisted path, which may be linked to this mysterious Circle. It will take all of Gin’s resources and cadre of friends and family to find the girl, who may well be dead at the hands of a ruthless serial killer.

The always smart and sassy Gin (AKA the Spider) may be snared in a web not of her own making in her quest to find Elissa. For Gin, discovering the truth is always deadly.

Estep continues a series that is fun, humorous, and sexy, but this story is one of the darkest to date. Looking forward to the next in the series, scheduled for publication in the spring of 2018. This reader has become ensnared in Estep’s web. Thank you again, Jennifer Estep, for my signed copy of Snared. Now, if I can only find out if Gwen Frost and Owen Grayson (both with violet eyes) are somehow related.

My suggestion: start with Spider’s Bite, the first in the series, and just keep going. It is easy to get hooked. Or check out any of her series as I have.