Two Blogs and a Book – Review – BLACK WIDOW by Jennifer Estep

February 14, 2015 4 Star Reviews, General, Reviews, Two Blogs and a Book 0 ★★★★½

Two Blogs and a Book – Review – BLACK WIDOW by Jennifer EstepBlack Widow by Jennifer Estep
Series: Elemental Assassin #12
Published by Pocket Books on November 25, 2014
Genres: Epic, Fantasy, Fiction, General, Romance, Urban, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 357
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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 buddy, Braine, of the spectacular blog Talk Supe, and I are doing a buddy read of the entire Elemental Assassin series by Jennifer Estep.  So don’t forget to head over to Talk Supe and read the second half of our talk.  Check out the links at the end!


Note:  This review does contain a small spoiler and assumes a knowledge of the previous books in the series.

TS: Goddamn! Now THAT’S Urban Fantasy! I very rarely reread books, and I’m so tempted to give BLACK WIDOW another go. Fantastic doesn’t even begin to describe it!

SWR:  Agreed.  BLACK WIDOW was the book I’ve been waiting for.  It was a burst of energy for me in the sense that I while I enjoyed the last entries in the series, I wasn’t sure where it was going.  This book got me excited again.

TS: I feel ya! I had a minor case of reading slump when I started this, only Gin Blanco can cure me from whatever book fatigue I have. So what did you think of Gin the Elemental here?

SWR:  I loved her here. What I’ve always admired about Gin’s character is her ability to see a way out, to not panic, to be smart.  And this book shows those characteristics at their best.  In terms of Gin the elemental, I wasn’t sure if she could hold up against Monroe’s power but, once again, brain over brawn.  She knew that fast thinking, zero ego, and smarts would help her out and it did.

TS: Part of me was hoping that Jennifer Estep would draw out Madeline Monroe’s arc some more, spread it to a few more books because I don’t want the series spike to end just yet. I mean, we went through 6 okay books before this. I’m not ready to let the high go just yet!

SWR:  This was probably the most interesting choice of all.  I really thought Monroe’s arc would last a few books.  I was very surprised when it appeared that wouldn’t be the case.  I applaud Estep for doing that.  It’s a bold move.  What did you think about Madeline Monroe as a villain? I was surprised by how indirect her tactics were only to find out how elementally powerful she was.  Why do you think she hesitated so much to go one-on-one with Gin?

TS: One book for another Monroe was a surprise, but I don’t know if I like this move. Not yet anyways, I want to wait for the next book before I agree with you on that point or not.

As for Madeline as a villain, I did like her. Obviously she has insecurity issues about being Mab’s daughter so I was expecting her tactics to be different. What I didn’t see coming was the web she wove for Gin. I have to give her props for disabling Gin’s support system there, she laid out her trap carefully. Too bad the Spider knows how to maneuver her way around webs… I think she hesitated because she has a daughter, and Madeline didn’t come across like a soldier like Mab. Like she knows she’s strong but I don’t think she had the right skill set to complement her power.

SWR:  Yes, the daughter kind of highlights this endless cycle of violence.  Will the daughter now become a new threat?  Who knows.  But it was sobering moment to learn she has a daughter.  And you are totally right.  Madeline disabled Gin’s support system and also put her face to face with the law which hasn’t really happened before.  What did you think of the action?  I was totally invested.  The bullpen, THE PORK PIT?!?!?  What a ride.

TS: I was wondering what Gin was up to freezing up those disgusting toilets. I did love the bullpen scene. I had no doubts that she’s going to come out victorious from that gladiator-like fight. Now the Pork Pit was a different incident all together. I felt sentimental. I panicked. I had my fist in my mouth, my heart pounding on my throat. I was so into that scene, what it represented, and the repercussions of that attack on Gin and her team. I’m surprised she survived that! At this point, the Pork Pit tragedy is the most memorable and heart wrenching scene in the series for me.

SWR:  The Pork Pit.  The end of an era.  I was slightly devastated by that.  And a little incredulous, like, “oh no she didn’t!  no she didn’t!!!”


BLACK WIDOW was a great entry in one of the most solid UF series around.  I admit that I the last few books were enjoyable but left me questioning the direction of this series.  With this latest entry, I was blown away by the high stakes, the tension, and the emotion.  BLACK WIDOW was exciting.  I’m looking forward to the next book as Gin takes on a new role and, as always, a new enemy.  4.5 Howls!



Hop on over to Braine at Talk Supe to read the second half of this review!




About Jennifer Estep

Jennifer Estep is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea.

Jennifer writes the Elemental Assassin adult urban fantasy series for Pocket. Books in the series are SPIDER’S BITE, WEB OF LIES, VENOM, TANGLED THREADS, SPIDER’S REVENGE, BY A THREAD, and WIDOW’S WEB. THREAD OF DEATH, an e-novella, is also available.

DEADLY STING, the eighth book, is set to be released on March 26, 2013.

Jennifer also writes the Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series for Kensington.

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