I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Series: Elemental Assassin #15
Published by Pocket Books on August 30, 2016
Genres: Urban Fantasy
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What could go wrong when you’re trying to unravel a decades-old conspiracy?
As the current queen of the Ashland underworld, you would think that I, Gin Blanco, would know all about some secret society controlling things from behind the scenes. I might be the Spider, the city’s most fearsome assassin, but all my Ice and Stone elemental magic hasn’t done me a lick of good in learning more about “the Circle”. Despite my continued investigations, the trail’s gone as cold as the coming winter.
So when Finnegan Lane, my foster brother, gets word of a surprising inheritance, we figure why not skip town for someplace less dangerous for a few days? That place: Bullet Pointe, a fancy hotel resort complex plus Old West theme park that Finn now owns lock, stock, and barrel. At first, all the struttin’ cowboys and sassy saloon girls are just hokey fun. But add in some shady coincidences and Circle assassins lurking all around, and vacationing becomes wilder—and deadlier—than any of us expected.
Good thing this assassin brought plenty of knives to the gunfight…
I’m a series binge reader, and when someone recently reminded me that I was horribly behind on Jennifer Estep’s Elemental Assassin series, I realized I’d let over half a dozen books pass me by—the last book I’d read was number 8, and, at the time, number 15, Unraveled, was just about to be released. So I was determined to catch up. Two weeks later, I was, although not in time for the release of Unraveled. Still, blazing through books 8.5 through 14.5 got me hyped up for Estep’s latest release, and it reinforced my fandom of this author’s work.
Unraveled is what I like to call a build-up book in the series, which is to say that it builds up anticipation for what’s to come. This is not to say there’s no action, because there’s a good dose of that; or that the main bit of intrigue introduced in this novel isn’t satisfied, because it is. Plus, we learn a bit more about main character Gin Blanco’s past and the new enemy she faces, i.e., The Circle. It’s just that the characters have suddenly found themselves in the middle of a war, and this is more of a skirmish that establish how formidable their enemies are. So if you’re following the series, you’ll get all sorts of hyped up for the upcoming battle.
And let me say at this point that it might not be a good idea to read this book without reading the previous novels in the series. It does have its own story arc that I suspect would be all right to follow even if you’ve never read an Elemental Assassin book, but details revealed here will spoil previous books, and the emotional investment just won’t be the same. I know I wouldn’t have been as affected had I skipped the previous books. For example, my heart wouldn’t have hurt with relief reading about Finn goofing off, had I not read books 14 and 14.5.
That being said, I rather liked this book in the way I enjoyed the musical episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Xena: Warrior Princess; there was a campy quality to the setting and circumstances, but darned if the heroine didn’t manage to kick major butt anyway.
So, yes, in this book, Gin is as awesome as ever, and I’ve enjoyed her journey as a character. At this point, she’s both harder and softer than she was when I met her in the very first book. I say she’s both because she has let more people into her heart, but has also confronted the aspect of herself that will cross any line to protect the people she loves. I have no doubt the next books will bring up the danger level, and I’m definitely looking forward to book 16.
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Elemental Assassin Series Reading Order