I didn’t think this series could get any better. I didn’t think Jennifer Estep could still surprise me or throw me for a loop or make me love Gin Blanco any more than I already did, but boy was I wrong. Black Widow is the 12th book in the Elemental Assassin series and it blew my mind. In the best way possible.
The last several releases have seen Gin battle small time bosses and every Tom, Dick and Harry who wanted to make a name for themselves in Ashland. Every single time she turned a corner or innocently took out the trash after the lunch shift at the Pork Pit she’s had to prove another point and hide another body. She’s wished over and over that they would just leave her alone. Then came the events at the end of Poison Promise, which I suspected would be a game changer in this series. The introduction of M.M. Monroe and who she is to Gin upped the ante yet again. I knew Ms. Estep had big plans for our favorite assassin. I was incredibly surprised to see the direction those plans would take and how devastating the fall out would be for Gin and yes, me as a reader.
M.M. Monroe, daughter of the legendary Mab Monroe, is all over Ashland as soon as she comes to town. Dedicating wings to the library and town park, moving into Mab’s mansion and becoming very friendly with leaders of the community, on both sides of the law. The only thing she hasn’t done is make a move on the Spider. Gin knows it’s coming, she just doesn’t exactly know when or how, but she’s been keeping her eyes open and watching her new enemy, waiting. Then little things start happening to her friends and family, problems with business associates, lawsuits and deals gone bad. Gin worries that something bigger might be happening. Then it all explodes into a huge mess.
Gin has always had to deal with her enemies up front with her elemental powers and physical and mental strength. Madeline Monroe is a completely different type of foe. She’s sneaky, manipulative and is willing to play the long game to get what she wants. She comes at Gin by using the law and any dirty cop she can buy off or threaten. She does something in here that I’ve always wondered why other villains haven’t in the past. Madeline comes at every character in the Spider’s tight-knit group and tries to destroy the things they value most in the world, from their businesses to school. It’s a whirlwind of carnage. The hits come fast and furious and before she knows it Gin is caught up in the web. The effects are absolutely devastating. I will be completely honest when I say even though I knew Gin would figure out a way to overcome in the end, I had absolutely no idea how she would do it. I really didn’t. In every installment readers have heard about how corrupt the police department is, but we’ve never really had an inkling of just how bad. In fact, I think readers will be shocked at the turn of events and by what happens in the end.
I absolutely do not want to spoil anything for fans of this series excited about this release, so I’ll just stop now and say that Black Widow is crazy good and Gin Blanco is still one of the best written heroines in urban fantasy. I was riveted from beginning to end. I didn’t want to put my Kindle down for a moment, even to sleep. Final Grade- A
Sometimes I wondered if I could ever really escape the past and all the consequences of it.