After a nice little break for the long 4th of July, we’re back with the seventh book of the Elemental Assassin series by Jennifer Estep. For Widow’s Web, it isn’t Gin’s past that comes back to bite her and her makeshift family in the ass. It’s Owen’s.
Owen Grayson grew up on the streets, much like Gin did for a while. The difference was, he got help off the street from an air elemental named Cooper who is an amazing blacksmith. With Owen’s weaker elemental talent for metal (weaker meaning not one of the major four elements), Cooper realized he could make a good living at blacksmithing. It gave Owen a way to get his sister off the street.
What he never mentioned before was that it wasn’t just him and his sister living rough. It was him, Eva, Philip Kincaid (one of Ashland’s underworld bosses) and a pretty water elemental named Salina. Owen had some sort of falling out with Kincaid years ago that he doesn’t talk about and Salina broke his heart by leaving Ashland soon after.
Gin gets pulled into this whole mess of backstory by Kincaid, who hires her to cater an event on his riverboat casino. A water elemental kills one of his bodyguards by pulling the water out of his body (nasty) and then tries to kill him. Gin saves his life and then learns some things that Owen doesn’t know and doesn’t even want to hear about.
Salina is a nasty piece of work. She is, quite simply, a psychotic bitch. She enjoys using her elemental magic to hurt and kill. She’s cruel and nasty with it. Owen was so held over heels with her as a young man that he won’t hear a word against her, which both pisses Gin off and makes her jealous. And worried that he’ll leave her for Salina if she so much as crooks her finger at him.
Eva, on the other hand, holds no such illusions. She tells Gin that Salina spent weeks torturing her in a bathtub (Eva was 4-5 at the time) until Kincaid cottoned on to Eva’s change in demeanor. To Eva, Salina is as bad as Mab Monroe. She makes Gin promise that she’ll kill the water elemental, which Gin does, despite the feeling that this is going to make things bad between her and Owen.
Things come to a head when Salina tries to kill the majority of Ashland’s underworld in one fell swoop, everyone who had stood around while Mab roasted Salina’s father alive years ago. Cracked little girl that she is, she thinks that this would bring Owen back to her. That they can live happily ever after.
By this time, Owen is starting to realize that Salina is extremely crazy, but he still thinks he can save her. Everyone else knows that she is way beyond saving. She’s married and killed several very rich men, not that anyone’s ever come after her for it. He goes to Salina alone, even though Gin asked him not to, and Gin ends up having to come to a very hasty rescue.
It’s a tough battle. Salina is strong in her water magic and she’s ensured that she has a lot of water to work with. Gin, on the other hand, is a very powerful ice elemental, even though ice is considered a secondary element (like Owen’s metal). She freezes all of the water, making it impossible for Salina to use it. And when Gin has Salina at her mercy, Salina begs Owen to save her. Ugh, manipulative bitch. Can’t stand that sort of person. Gin ignores Owen’s pleas for mercy and kills Salina.
Unfortunately, Owen doesn’t take this well and decides that he needs a break from his relationship with Gin. I feel this is a little ridiculous. Owen has always known what Gin does and has always supported her. He knows that she wouldn’t kill out of some petty jealousy. And even when Eva confronts him and tells him exactly what Salina did to her, Owen still doesn’t come back. I mean, Owen has spent all of the books he’s been in trying to protect his little sister and then he completely ignores her? I know love can make people stupid but you’d think that a man as bent on protecting his sister as Owen is would believe her over anyone else.
This is possibly the most emotionally complex of the Elemental Assassin series so far. It takes Gin out of her comfort zone and into a no-win scenario (Kobayashi Maru, anyone?) and still makes her out to be about as good as an assassin can be. She protected her family and saved untold innocent (and not-so-innocent) lives. This is the only book I didn’t really like Owen in. He promised never to pull on Gin what Donovan Caine did, especially after the last freaking book…and then he does.
He gets marginally better in the next book but for right now, I’m very upset with him. I think that’s the mark of a good series, when you get emotionally invested in the characters. You should have seen me after Changes by Jim Butcher! At any rate, this is a very good and therefor very quick read. I highly recommend and you really don’t need to read the preceding books, though it does help to get some of the character backstory. Rating: A+