Review: Black Widow by Jenifer Estep

Posted November 24, 2014 by Carmel in Carmel, Reviews, Urban Fantasy / 78 Comments

Review: Black Widow by Jenifer Estep
Black Widow by Jennifer Estep
Series: Elemental Assassin #12
Published by Pocket
Published on: November 25, 2014
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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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.


How do I love thee, Gin Blanco? Let me count the ways. I never thought I’d say this of such a long running series, but this twelfth installment was just as good, if not better than the first, and second, and third… That’s not to say that I didn’t have my doubts going in to BLACK WIDOW because all of the events leading up to this book lead me to believe that it might have ended up being a rinse/repeat of SPIDER’S REVENGE, but previous experience has taught me to have absolute faith in Jennifer Estep, and I think my 5-star rating speaks for itself. I L-O-V-E-D this novel; from the Big Bad’s unexpected approach, to all of the secondary characters pitching in, to the knock ’em out awesome fight scenes. And then, to top it all off, a promise of more to come with a preview of the next ELEMENTAL ASSASSIN installment. Yes, I am one happy fan-girl!

One of the most challenging aspects of these books has got to be coming up with new villains for the Spider to kill because each one needs to be bigger and badder than the last, and must be conquered in a different, yet equally kick-ass way. This author makes that feat look like a cake walk, and I was pleasantly dumbfounded by M. M. Monroe. I mean, with a last name like that the first thing that comes to any EA reader’s mind is Mab—the most in-your-face, powerful fire Elemental, and infamous Queen of the underworld. Any relative of hers has got to have an iron fist, right? So, when this latest antagonist tried to legalese Gin and her friends to death, I was speechless. A law abiding villain… in Ashland—you’ve got to be kidding me! I enjoyed her unexpected approach, cunningness, and the little ‘surprise’ up her sleeve.

My girl crush on Blanco is no secret; I’ve loved watching her character grow throughout this series from vulnerable street kid to fearless assassin, and in my mind there’s no foe that she can’t defeat. However, in BLACK WIDOW Gin really takes a lickin’ to the point that I was biting my nails, and thinking “so this is how it’s going to end.” Monroe attacks all of the limbs before going after the head, heck even the Pork Pit doesn’t escape unscathed. This felt like a series finale, and the Spider has already gone though her nine lives and then some, so her death was a definite possibility. But boy, what a way to go! The bull pen brawl was jaw dropping-ly sensational, followed closely by her spectacular escape from the po-po, not to be outdone by her frozen pea fort, and then an Elemental duel to boot! Blanco ‘came out’ in POISON PROMISE, but in this novel she claimed her crown.

No heroine would be complete without a trusty sidekick, or in Gin’s case fourteen: Finn, Bria, Owen, Eva, Jo-Jo, Sophia, Xavier, Roslyn, Phillip, Cooper, Violet, Warren, Silvio, and Catalina. Sanchez was a new addition to the EA crew, and I liked what he brought to the dynamics. His back-and-forth with Lane was hilarious, and I loved the idea of daily assassin briefings. Grayson’s faith in his woman when all seemed lost brought tears to my eyes, the Deveraux sisters never fail to breathe life into a hopeless situation, and I was happy that even Bria put her cop morals aside when push came to shove. Blanco usually flies solo to protect those most nearest and dearest to her, so I couldn’t resist doing a fist pump when the call to arms came. The ending was brilliant with grandiose speeches, Gin throwing the law back in Monroe’s face, and a bonus twist.

The Spider strikes again in BLACK WIDOW! Summer 2015 + EA #13 = it’s a date, Jennifer Estep!

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Owner, designer and main blogger behind Rabid Reads. Avid book reader, snowboard bunny, video gamer and Supernatural fan. I love all things paranormal, werewolves especially. Oh, and I’m Canadian, eh!

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78 responses to “Review: Black Widow by Jenifer Estep

  1. Jenny from Supernatural Snark has already told me that I need to start this series, never mind the 11 previous books to add to my TBR list and how off-putting that might be and after reading your review now? Well, seems that I have less than one year to read 12 extra books, because this is a must have series!
    Fantastic review Carmel!
    Pili recently posted…Mark This Book Monday: Jackaby by William Ritter!!

    • Once you start, you won’t be able to stop, trust me! I was a latecomer to this series as well, and was planning on reading a book a month, but that quickly turned into one a week.

    • Haha! Yes, I saw your comments on the other two reviews. Three of us can’t be wrong! I’d recommend going the audiobook route because the narrator is fantastic, and helps cut down on some of the repetitiveness of the earlier installments.

    • I’m getting tired of BDB too, and it’s more PNR while as this one is 100% UF, so it’s guaranteed badassery. I just love Gin Blanco, and all of the wonderful secondary characters!

  2. YEAH CARMEL!!!!!! This series never fails to impress me. Honestly, I feel like these books should be repetitive by now – Gin faces down bad guy, Gin gets hurt, Gin comes up with way to kick bad guy’s ass, Gin is happy until the next book. Each book follows this basic arc, but Jennifer writes them in a way that sucks me in every single time, and I find myself falling more and more in love even at book 12. SO GOOD! And yes, I loved Madeline’s approach to taking down Gin. I was so mad I was shaking while reading and it was awesome:)

    • YAY!!! I’m so happy that I can fan-girl with someone, not very many of my followers are up to date on this series. It’s crazy how good Estep is at adding a new wow factor to a tried & true format over and over again. I don’t know how she does it, but I don’t want her to stop!

  3. Oh Carmel you and Jenny always have such great things to say about this series. While it’s been on my radar I hadn’t heard that there were already 12 books in this series. That’s crazy. Way too much effort for me LOL. I don’t know if i’ll ever have the motivation to start this series and continue it but i’m glad to hear this one just worked for you. Lovely review 🙂
    Lily recently posted…Of Metal and Wishes (Of Metal and Wishes #1): Review

    • I realize that the number of installments is daunting, but they just fly by because the writing and the characters are so good. Read the first book, and you’ll know exactly what Jenny & I are talking about.

    • This novel was a 5-star read because of all of the ones that came before it. The build-up was phenomenal, and I have no problem keeping all of the secondary characters straight because they are all just so well-developed.

    • This really did feel like a series finale, and when Estep originally wrote it, she hadn’t been contracted for any more books, so it could have been. So happy that that’s not the case!

    • I got into this series via a binge read, it really is the only way to go, especially with this many installments. Not only was this book a 5-star read, almost all 12 were!

  4. Braine  

    I srsly need to hunt down Lee of She-Wolf Reads, she’s my reading buddy for this series, we need to get our ass moving fast!

    The books after Revenge wasn’t really as spectacular so I’m looking forward to this.

    • There aren’t very many Urban Fantasy series that have this kind of staying power. I keep expecting Estep to deliver a so-so installment, but she never does!

    • Four is indeed better than none, you’re nearing the halfway mark. Ooh, and you’re going the audiobook route. YAY!!! I love Lauren Fortgang’s narration.

  5. It’s amazing to see that it’s still good after so many books and I’m so late! I have book 2 and 3 at home to read. So behind! I need to get into them… soon… Great review!

  6. You are making me want to read a long UF series again! Even after 12 books, for it to still be awesome really says something about this series you know? I love the sound of the different villains she has to kill, that sounds like the stakes keep getting higher each time. Will have to pick up this series sometime! Great review Carmel.

  7. I know I say this WAY too much and so I must fail at life, but Jennifer Estep is one author I have been meaning to try for SO long. I remember buying her YA series like a couple of months after I started blogging, even, and they’re sitting there all neglected on my shelves lol. This adult series sounds incredible, too, and very great is far as characters which is what I look for before I start a new series. I need character driven!

    • I’m disappointed in you, Giselle! I would have thought that you’d at least have read her YA, even *I* have. She has a new series starting up in 2015 in that genre, maybe you should start there. 🙂

  8. I’m so glad this series is still going strong, Carmel… or getting better and better?!? I, of course, haven’t begun the series but Ms Estep has been on my radar for a long time. I’ll have to make a point to start it in 2015. It sounds so action-packed and i adore lots of character growth. Plus Gin just seems like a plucky heroine…I like that too. Excellent review!

    • I actually count the days between each installment, and religiously scour the usual places for ARCs. This is one of those series that I just can’t get enough of. SO GOOD!

  9. Jennifer Bielman from Bad Bird Reads  

    Yes, yes and YES!! You literally said everything I was thinking. The last few books were just okay for me, so Black Widow blew me away. It was original and the villain was perfect. A little different but still evil. I love how she went after Gin with a different approach. And I too thought this might be it and I just didn’t know it. But we should never lose trust in Gin and her kickassery!
    Jennifer Bielman recently posted…Excerpt: Hemlock Veils by Jennie Davenport (Book Blitz & Giveaway)

    • I’ve never stopped loving this series, yes there have been a few more recent installments that I’ve liked less than others, but Black Widow exceeded my expectations in every way. And, now the EA countdown clock resets until summer 2015-ish. *sigh*