Wednesday, November 26, 2014

BLACK WIDOW by Jennifer Estep

Rating: A
There’s nothing worse than a cruel, cunning enemy with time to kill—and my murder to plan.

With wicked Fire elemental Mab Monroe long gone, you’d think I could finally catch a break. But someone’s always trying to take me down, either as Gin Blanco or my assassin alter-ago. Now along comes the Spider’s new arch-nemesis, the mysteriously named M. M. Monroe, who is gleefully working overtime to trap me in a sticky web of deceit.

The thing is, I’m not the only target. I can see through the tangled threads enough to know that every bit of bad luck my friends have been having lately is no accident—and that each unfortunate “coincidence” is just one more arrow drawing ever closer to hitting the real bulls-eye. Though new to Ashland, this M. M. Monroe is no stranger to irony, trying to get me, an assassin, framed for murder. Yet, as my enemy’s master plan is slowly revealed, I have a sinking feeling that it will take more than my powerful Ice and Stone magic to stop my whole life from going up in flames.

My thoughts on the book:
Black Widow reignited the magic in this series. I was really bored with the past couple of books, and I was about to break up with this series, but this novel changed my mind. Gin got put through a lot in this installment, and she really showed her strength. Gone were the weak and easily remedied problems from the previous two installments, where there were either no problems at all and the entire book was a memory, or the problems were too easily solved, in my opinion. Gin really had to fight to survive again, and I loved that.

Gin really grew quite a bit in this series and showed her good side along with her bad ass side. I really loved how she evolved, and the ending made me really proud of her. This was very much a Gin-focused book, and I enjoyed that. I'm not a fan of Bria and Finn's relationship, and it was nice that I didn't have to see that forced on me (and them) any this time. Owen was present some, and everything he did just reaffirmed the fact that he's perfect for Gin. Her friends supported her from afar, but they were still there for her. I liked the balance in this novel and how it focused on Gin's growth instead of her dependence on others. I felt like it took her back to her roots a bit.

The plot was fast moving and full of action and suspense. More than once, Gin defied odds and survived. There were some tense moments, for sure, but I had faith she'd pull through. She kind of has to, since she's the narrator. The big reveal at the end completely blindsided me. I did not see that coming, and I loved how Gin handled it and set herself apart from the Monroes. This plot was much more complex, in my opinion, than the last novel. Estep's writing was top notch, and the only weird thing I noticed was that Gin kept telling the reader when she went to the bathroom. That was just odd to me. Oh well, whatever. The ending tied things up nicely and left me dying for the next book.

Overall, I'd recommend this novel and series to anyone who enjoys tough urban fantasy female leads. This is one of my favorite series, and Gin is one of my favorite characters.

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