Book Review: “Winter’s Web” by Jennifer Estep

March 15, 2019 Book Reviews 1

Book Review: “Winter’s Web” by Jennifer Estep

I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

"Winter's Web" by Jennifer Estep
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by Author on March 12, 2019
Pages: 86
Format: eBook
Source: my own shelves

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Also by this author: Killer Frost, Black Widow, The Spider's Trap, Dark Heart of Magic, Bitter Bite, Unraveled, "Nice Guys Bite", Bright Blaze of Magic, Snared, Kill the Queen

A short story, 17.5, in the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series and revolving around Gin Blanco, a barbecue chef, an assassin, and queen of the Ashland, North Carolina, underworld. If you’re interested, there is a chronological listing of the Elemental Assassin books on my website.

“Winter’s Web” also appears in Amanda Bouchet’s Seasons of Sorcery anthology.

My Take

It’s all from Gin’s perspective as Estep uses first person protagonist point-of-view, as Gin scrambles to figure out what that itch signifies.

Now, I always enjoy finding out what Gin is up to — she’s dangerous, she’s kind, and she cooks a mean barbecue — and she’s too cocky this time. Characters are more interesting when they’re rounded, and that includes having a weakness…god knows, it’s good to find out that Gin is not superwoman, that she’s willing to assess her weaknesses and make changes.

And Gin does need help desperately…and Estep lets her off easy. And lets us down with that dorky Celeste. So what if the pirate queen is a character at the faire. It doesn’t mean she has to be this lame!

I suppose it might have been necessary (in Estep’s mind) to keep this short, but a few more pages wouldn’t have hurt to develop Celeste’s animosity a bit better.

And Estep could have wound things up with that dinner she makes Owen at the end. I do love the descriptions of Gin’s food. I’m always hungry when I read this series! It would have been much better than that gratuitous sex scene at the end. Talk about a throwaway…

The Story

Costumes!? How ever did Gin get talked into donning a costume for the Ren Faire? And Finn wants to know how they got talked into volunteering!

The Faire starts off innocently enough, but something seems slightly off about the cheery atmosphere and costumed characters. Maybe Gin’s being paranoid, but she can’t help but feel like she’s trapped in someone else’s icy web — and that they don’t want her to leave the Faire alive . . .

The Characters

Gin Blanco‘s powers include Ice and Stone, which she uses in her night job as an assassin, the Spider, and unexpected head of the underworld. By day she runs the Pork Pit, Ashland’s premier barbecue palace. Finnegan Lane is her too-smooth foster brother who is dating Gin’s sister, Detective Bria Coolidge. Fletcher Lane was Finn’s dad and had been Gin’s mentor in the assassin game.

Owen Grayson, a wealthy businessman whose elemental power is Metal, is her significant other; Eva is Owen’s younger sister.

Jolene “Jo-Jo” Deveraux is a dwarf who uses her Air power in her beauty salon. Rosco is her basset hound. Sophia Deveraux is Jo-Jo’s sister who prefers the gothic side of fashion. She works for Gin at the Pork Pit, and after hours, she uses her Air power to help Gin get rid of bodies. Detective Xavier is Bria’s partner with the Ashland PD. Silvio Sanchez, a vampire, is Gin’s personal assistant. Stuart Mosley is a a dwarf and the owner of First Trust Bank which employs Finn.

The Winter’s Web Renaissance Faire is…
…a biannual event sponsored by the Ashland Renaissance Players. Darrell Kline is one of the players as well as an accountant at Owen’s company. Princess Penelope is one of the Faire’s characters, as is Pirate Queen Celeste who is amazing with her twin swords. Arthur, Lancelot, and Galahad are some of the giants costumed as Celeste’s bodyguards.

The Circle is…
…a secret society responsible for much of the crime and corruption in Ashland. Its leader is Uncle Mason Snow. Hugh Tucker is Gin’s personal nemesis and the Circle’s vampire enforcer.

The Black Rook is a new enemy of Gin’s while Jonah McAllister is an old enemy.

Eira Snow (Gin’s mother) and Annabella (Gin’s sister) were murdered. Their father, Tristan, had died young.

The Cover and Title

The cover is chilly in its blues, white, and lilac. A close-up of the beautiful hilt of a sword catches the attention, a spider web in white radiating outward from the hilt, as the wrought iron gates open behind it. The background is an elongated radial gradation of glowing white behind the sword’s hilt out to deeper and deeper blues. The text is mostly in white from the info blurb at the very top with the author’s name just below it. The title is below the sword’s hilt with the first word in white and the second in a gradation from white into lilac. At the very bottom is the series information that also informs us that it’s a novella.

The title refers to the trap lying within “Winter’s Web”.

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