(Elemental Assassin #5)
Available September 27th
Received from author for review
Warning: Review contains mild spoilers
Gin has been plotting her revenge on fire elemental Mab Monroe for years. She's been sharpening her skills as an assassin and continuing the training her mentor and the closest thing she had to a father, Fletcher Lane, taught her in preparation for the moment when vengeance for the death of her mother and older sister would be hers.
Mab only knows a woman by the name of The Spider is decimating the men loyal to her and destroying them one by one, but soon Mab will know that The Spider, Gin Blanco, and Genevieve Snow are all one and the same, and it will be the last thing she knows before she dies.
Because Gin suffers no delusions she'll make it out of her confrontation with Mab alive, she attempts to let Owen Grayson know just how important he is to her, slowly prying open the doors of her heart that so brutally slammed shut as a result of Detective Donovan Caine's rejection. But all too soon her patience with Mab pays off, and it's time for The Spider to surprise her prey.
Through four books we've slowly watched as the tension between Gin and nemesis Mab Monroe has escalated slowly but inexorably, a bloody and painful journey that could only ever have a bloody and painful end. Finally we are given the book where the entirety of Gin's focus is on Mab herself and not a minion or hired villain, and we find ourselves darkly entranced as all of Gin's grief and anger find and target their source, honing in with fine precision and denying us the possibility of reading only a few chapters before returning to the realities of our world. Instead, time has no meaning to us as we read, any plans we might have had for our day or evening abandoned as the glorious fury of Gin's wrath is unleashed on the monster who murders and maims any who oppose her.
Gin is a remarkably constructed character, her skill at dealing death and the ease with which she rends flesh with a unwavering swipe of her silverstone knives things that should make us instinctively uneasy, but Ms. Estep masterfully manages to write inherently human weaknesses and vulnerabilities into the body of the assassin so that connecting with her is ultimately a non-issue. We've read as she's been emotionally eviscerated by a man whose eyes saw only what the word "assassin" made his mind see as opposed to what was actually there, and finally in this story those wounds have almost been entirely healed by the love of a man who sees all the pieces of her–the innocence of Genevieve Snow, the stalwart survivor that is Gin Blanco, and the deadliness of a trained killer known as The Spider–and accepts each of them as necessary to making her who she is. She's been teetering on the edge of taking a leap of faith in her relationship with Owen, and it's incredibly satisfying to see her jump in this story and witness those who have been patiently waiting to catch her get their chance.
The build up and final battle with Mab is spectacularly executed, things for Gin going wrong more often than they go right, ensuring we are beside ourselves with worry and stress the entire time we're reading. Though Gin is a professional killer with undeniable skill, she doesn't simply waltz in and take Mab down in twenty short pages after hundreds of pages of planning, instead she engages Mab in a deadly dance, forced to retreat as often as she advances while making mistakes that just have us rooting for her all the more. Gin's elemental powers have been steadily growing with each book, but Ms. Estep maintains Gin's authenticity in this showdown beautifully, staying true to her and her mental and physical strengths without altering her so that she suddenly knows how to wield her ice and stone magic with the utmost competence. She's the Gin we've grown to love, as much a fighter with fists and smarts as she is with her elements, and we fight beside her every minute of this tale.
Though Spider's Revenge sees the epic conclusion of the Mab Monroe story arc, Ms. Estep leaves plenty of possibilities open for the next two installments (and hopefully beyond) so that there's no shortage trouble for Gin to find moving forward. Gin is one character whom it's a pleasure to watch grow and change, and her band of ridiculously lovable misfits keep some of the darkness at bay with their humor and loyal support of a woman who would sacrifice everything she has and everything she is to spare them the slightest pain. Gritty and violent but also poignant and powerful, Spider's Revenge is one that will not soon be forgotten.