I’m not a huge fan of Westerns. They’re just not my thing. But when my favourite urban fantasy heroine shares my view and gets into her own Western themed adventure? Count me in! Jennifer Estep‘s latest Elemental Assassin novel, Unraveled, takes place in a Western setting, and it couldn’t have made it more fun. As with all of Estep’s novels, I was competely drawn into the adventure, excitement, and utter fun that always comes with an Elemental Assassin read. While it doesn’t add too much to the latest story arc, I was more than happy just to read about the newest trouble that strolled across Gin’s path, and how she kicked its ass. Since this is book 15 in the series, I can’t really review it without giving away some minor spoilers, so you have been warned.
What could go wrong when you’re trying to unravel a decades-old conspiracy?
As the current queen of the Ashland underworld, you would think that I, Gin Blanco, would know all about some secret society controlling things from behind the scenes. I might be the Spider, the city’s most fearsome assassin, but all my Ice and Stone elemental magic hasn’t done me a lick of good in learning more about “the Circle”. Despite my continued investigations, the trail’s gone as cold as the coming winter.
So when Finnegan Lane, my foster brother, gets word of a surprising inheritance, we figure why not skip town for someplace less dangerous for a few days? That place: Bullet Pointe, a fancy hotel resort complex plus Old West theme park that Finn now owns lock, stock, and barrel. At first, all the struttin’ cowboys and sassy saloon girls are just hokey fun. But add in some shady coincidences and Circle assassins lurking all around, and vacationing becomes wilder—and deadlier—than any of us expected.
Good thing this assassin brought plenty of knives to the gunfight …
Gin can’t go on vacation. Seriously, this woman is like a magnet in a thumbtack factory. Those pins will be drawn to her and try to stab her, but she’s nothing if not ferociously capable of handling herself. But more on Gin’s amazingness later. First, the story. It wasn’t what I expected, but it was exactly all the fun I wanted. Elemental Assassin books are known for their intense action and while this book is tamer than previous novels (more running and sneaking than fisticuffs), it was nevertheless exciting to watch Gin face down wicked bad guys and weave her own wicked webs against them. Much of the story revolved around some schemes, Finn’s reconciliation with his most recent drama, and revelations about Gin’s family past, which is getting more and more interesting all the time. A lot of build up for coming books, but I didn’t mind because it was just so much fun! I always love watching Gin face down the bad guys and turn their traps against them.
As for the characters, well, they were exactly what I expected, but this is book 15 after all. At this point, I don’t want them to change. I want Finn to be snarky and full of swagger, I want Bria to be tough and loyal, I want Owen to be devoted and sexy, and Gin? I don’t ever want her to change from her dark-humoured, strong-willed, fighter-till-the-end persona. There’s a reason she’s my Queen of urban fantasy, and why I draw so much inspiration from her for my own characters. She’s intelligent, brave, funny, and selfless. I can’t wait to read more of her interactions with the Circle, and see how she battles the new, vile enemies coming her way. Because I know they will, and I’m willing to bet Gin’s hardest trial is on its way.
Getting back on track.. While I’ll never consider myself a fangirl of the whole Western thing, I’ll be the first to admit that the setting was charming and fun. Estep is a master of painting visuals with her words, and I could picture Bullet Pointe as if I were there myself. The setting was different from what I usually read from urban fantasy, which definitely helped engage me more. The same goes for one of the villains, who used their power in a unique–– albeit brutal–– and effective way.
All in all, Unraveled was worth the wait, and a great addition to the Elemental Assassin series. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you need to do so. This series is unlike any other urban fantasy series I’ve read, and as the webs continue to spin, they just keep getting better.