Book Review: Heart of Venom by Jennifer Estep




I once loved this series. Like really, really loved. I was shocked how the first five books seemed to be written just for me. Have you ever had that reaction to a story before? It doesn’t have to be the greatest story ever told, but it ticks all the right boxes for you.

Gin Blanco is a proper kick-ass heroine, with the kind of ‘get-yer-hands-dirty’ attitude I love. The first five books in the series were wonderful (for me) but even back then I remember recycled scene-setting and dialogue. And I always thought the sex-scenes were weird and awkward, but that’s fine. I didn’t read these for the romance (which seemed to be thrown in purely for mass-appeal purposes).

Ever since the big finale way back in Spider’s Revenge, I thought the series was done. Then I saw there was a sequel and I was like ‘oh good’, but it’s just gone downhill from there. Nothing seems to be a proper challenge for Gin after she beat the Big Bad Bitch. Even when the stakes are ramped up, it seems artificial. The same thing happened to me after the Cell Saga in Dragon Ball Z so maybe I just have an issue with series going too far beyond their original plot-line (which, admittedly, was the Frieza Saga but I like time-travel. So Cell Saga was good). But I digress…

The only thing I got out of this book was the explanation and wrap-up of what happened to Sophia all those years ago. I was always interested in that sub-plot but… I just feel it would’ve been better done following Fletcher around. Gin, hell, everyone’s just gotten on my nerves. There’s no real character development for anyone because there’s nothing really left to do. That spanner in the works with the main love interest was contrived and unbelievable and everyone else is just milling about. Sure, the action is still fun and Gin is still bad-ass, but it’s all technicalities. Everything just seems so artificial now. It’s lost it’s glamour.

I’m sorry, I cannot bring myself to give this a proper thumbs-up. It just seemed lazy, lazy, lazy. But thankfully Jennifer Estep is trying something new, with a thief-themed series starting next year. Then there’s the prequel The Spider which I haven’t read yet, but will anyway because it’d be nice to go back to a non-omnipotent Gin. So yes, I will read Estep’s other books, but I’m done with the Elemental Assassin Series.

I was disappointed. So thumbs down 😦

Heart of Venom
Jennifer Estep
Elemental Assassin #9
Urban Paranormal Fantasy
354 pages

According to the blurb on the back:

When I say you’re a dead man, take that literally.

To me, killing people is like a day at the salon: cut and dry. Well, more like rinse and repeat when you moonlight as the assassin the Spider. But my last spa day ended up redder than my freshly painted nails after a twisted Fire elemental and his goons kidnapped my close friend Sophia Deveraux and nearly killed her sister Jo-Jo in the process.

Up Ashland’s most dangerous mountains, and deep into the heart of its blackest woods – I’ll track these thugs no matter where they take Sophia. It doesn’t matter what kinds of elemental magic they try to throw at me, my Ice and Stone powers can take the heat and then some. I will get Sophia back, over their dead bodies.

Because anybody that hurts Gin Blanco’s family becomes a body.

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