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Literature / Elemental Assassin

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Elemental Assassin is an Urban Fantasy series by Jennifer Estep which focus on Gin Blanco, an assassin codenamed the Spider who can control the elements of Ice and Stone. When she’s not busy killing people and righting wrongs, Gin runs a barbecue restaurant called the Pork Pit in the fictional Southern metropolis of Ashland. The city is also home to giants, dwarves, vampires, and elementals – Air, Fire, Ice, and Stone.

The series consists of the following novels:
  • Spider's Bite
  • Web of Lies
  • Venom
  • Tangled Threads
  • Spider's Revenge
  • By a Thread
  • Widow's Web
  • Deadly Sting
  • Heart of Venom
  • The Spider (Prequel Novel)
  • Black Widow
  • Spider's Trap
  • Bitter Bite
  • Snared

It also has the following eBook novellas:
  • Thread of Death
  • Parlor Tricks
  • Kiss of Venom

Tropes found in the series include:

  • Assassin Outclassin': As of book six, so many people have tried to kill Gin at her day job that the Pork Pit has a second refrigerator to stash the bodies in until Sophia has time to dispose of them after closing time.
  • Berserk Button: Do not try to harm any of Gin's family, friends, or employees. Damaging one of Finn's cars is also a very bad idea, although in this case it's mostly Played for Laughs.
  • Big Bad: Mab Monroe, at least for the first five books.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Because when our main character is an assassin but not a Villain Protagonist, her antagonists have to be worse. The story taking place in a Wretched Hive helps too.
  • Bothering by the Book: Madeline attacks Gin by causing her and her friends a great deal of legal difficulties. Gin counters by finding that a large number of 19th Century dueling laws are still on the books in Ashland, and invokes some of them.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Detective Bria Coolidge was once Bria Snow, Gin's presumed dead younger sister. It takes Gin two books to admit this to her once they finally meet.
  • City of Adventure: Combined with Wretched Hive.
  • Contract on the Hitman: In Spider's Bite, Gin is hired to kill a target. Another assassin, the Viper, is hired to kill her immediately after she completes the contract so that the authorities have a convenient scapegoat to hang the murder on.
  • Cycle of Revenge: Mab killed Gin's family, so Gin killed Mab. Then M. M. Monroe (Mab's daughter Madeline) comes to town seeking revenge. She fails, leaving behind a child of her own. Despite knowing that this could allow the cycle to continue, Gin refuses to kill a four-year-old girl for the crimes of her mother and grandmother, instead arranging for Moira Monroe to be returned to the custody of her father, who appears to be a decent person. When asked if that was the right decision to make, Gin replies that they'll find out in twenty years or so.
  • Dating Catwoman: Detective Donovan Caine and Gin Blanco, the assassin who killed his partner. While he eventually gets over the "killed his partner" thing (he was a very Dirty Cop, even by the standards of Ashland), he ultimately decides that he can't be with her and still be the man he pictures himself to be, so he leaves town to remove himself from temptation. The next time he appears, they've both found somebody else.
  • "Die Hard" on an X: Deadly Sting is Die Hard At The Local Museum.
  • Dirty Cop: Ashland being the corrupted city it is, most cops here are this. The only notable exceptions are Donovan, Bria, and Xavier. And since all three of them are fully aware of who the assassin/vigilante/mob boss known as The Spider really is and don't do a thing about it, they're not entirely clean either.
  • Dresses the Same: Gin goes to a party at the local museum in a dress her foster brother got for her, only to find that her ex is there on the arm of a girl wearing the same dress. Oddly, it's the men in the story who get worked up over it, as it means that the store had sold two of an allegedly one of a kind designer dress. This inadvertently saves Gin's life - when thieves raid the museum, they make a point of assassinating Gin first so she can't go Die Hard on them, only they accidentally kill the other girl, who bore a superficial resemblance to Gin and was wearing an identical dress.
  • Elemental Powers: A good part of the cast has one. The four primary powers are Air, Fire, Ice and Stone, and known offshores include Acid, Electricity, Metal and Water.
    • Gin is a powerful dual elemental (which is very rare) — Ice/Stone.
    • Mab Monroe is a very powerful Fire elemental.
    • Jo-Jo and Sophia Deveraux are Air elementals.
    • Owen Grayson is a Metal elemental.
    • Bria Coolidge/Snow is an Ice elemental.
  • Fat, Sweaty Southerner in a White Suit: Captain Wayne Stephenson is a Dirty Cop who is constantly dabbing away sweat with a handkerchief. In Spider's Bite, he shows up at a formal fundraiser wearing a white suit.
  • Glove Slap: Gin does this to challenge Madeline Monroe to an elemental duel — and then points out that since Ashland never repealed the dueling laws that had been passed before the Civil War, not only does not accepting mean demonstrating cowardice in front of all present (Every single crime boss in Ashland), it also constitutes legally forfeiting one's entire estate to the challenger.
  • Goth: Sophia Deveraux.
  • Head-Tiltingly Kinky: In Spider's Bite, Gin finds some photographs of Giles Gordon engaged in sex with prostitutes:
    "Giles had been a little more serious about his prostitute predilection than Fletcher's file had let on. I turned one of the photos sideways. More flexible, too."
  • High-Dive Escape: In Spider's Bite, Gin is attempting to escape from the Ashland Opera House when she is cornered by Donovan Caine on the roof. She escapes by jumping off the roof into the Aneirin River.
  • Klingon Promotion: After Gin kills Mab, everyone thinks that killing The Spider is necessary to take Mab's place as ruler of Ashland's underworld. After beating Mab's daughter Madeline, Gin publicly declares that she doesn't care who rules among Ashland's crime bosses so long as they leave her and hers alone. They make her defacto queen anyway.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Spider, Gin's codename as an assassin.
  • Not Blood Siblings: Bria ends up in a relationship with Finn, who is the foster brother of her biological sister Gin.
  • One Last Job: Gin has been trying to retire from the assassin business since Web of Lies, but people keep attacking her or stomping on her Berserk Button, which makes her obliged to come out of retirement long enough to teach the offending party a lesson.
  • Orderlies are Creeps: In Spider's Bite, Gin kills an orderly at a mental hospital who has been raping patients.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Even Gin doesn't think of herself as Genevieve anymore.
  • Open Secret: Gin's secret identity isn't much of a secret by the end of the first arc. The first book of the second arc centers around her taking an out-of-town vacation to get away from the street punks harassing her at her day job in the hopes of being the one to kill The Spider so she can have some peace and quiet.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Vampires are a natural species instead of undead, have active metabolisms, can walk fine under the sun and have no particular issues with garlic or silver. They do need to consume blood alongside mundane food; they can live on animal blood, but prefer the human kind — there are blood banks dedicated to paying people to donate their blood for vampires to feed on. Feeding on human blood also gives vampire enhanced senses, strength and reflexes; dwarf or giant blood gives them Super-Strength, while that of elementals gives them Elemental Powers — until the blood cycles out of their systems.
  • Police Are Useless: Due to the corruption levels, asking for help from any cop other than Donovan, Bria or Xavier is wasting your time.
  • Professional Killer: Gin, aka The Spider, who as of book two is supposed to be retired. Her mentor Fletcher, aka the Tin Man, was one too.
  • Red Baron: When working, Gin goes by the alias of 'The Spider'. Her mentor Fletcher went by the alias of 'Tin Man'.
  • Scars Are Forever: Especially when molten metal is poured into the wounds before they have a chance to heal.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Mab's efforts to eliminate the Snow family before one of their children could rise to become an elemental strong enough to challenge her is what caused a young Genevieve Snow to become the assassin Gin Blanco. The fact that Mab had designated the wrong daughter as her primary target didn't help.
  • Sins of the Father: Gin deliberately averts in when she decides not to kill Mab's granddaughter.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Or rather, Trademark Favorite Drink — gin for Gin and chicory coffee for Finn.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: M.M. Monroe who is Mab Monroe in all but name. She's also a Generation Xerox being Mab's daughter.
  • Urban Fantasy: Vampires, Elementals, Dwarves, and Giants. Oh My.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Most notably Mab Monroe, who did not hesitated to order the entire Snow family murdered, with a special emphasis on the daughters.
  • Would Not Hurt A Child: Gin, who learned it from Fletcher. Fletcher actually refused the job to wipe out the Snows because their children were explicitly included among the targets.
  • You Killed My Father: Gin to Mab. And Madeline to Gin in return.