I’m not sure that I should continue reviewing Jennifer Estep’s ELEMENTAL ASSASSIN series. My goal has been to get the entire series reviewed for this website because that’s one of our visions for Fantasy Literature, (get everything reviewed), but it occurs to me that it might be pointless. This series gets high marks at GoodReads and Amazon, so why would anyone who’s interested in Poison Promise, book 11, be reading my reviews when I’ve been kind of down on these books for quite a while now? Fans of the series — those who are considering reading Poison Promise — are probably not coming here to get information. They’re probably reading reviews by other fans. Right? (Please correct me if I’m wrong by leaving a comment.)
So, I’ll just post some random thoughts here because: 1. Probably nobody considering reading this book cares what I think and 2. My reviews are getting as repetitive as the books are.
In Poison Promise Gin must vanquish another really nasty super-villain: Beauregard Benson, a baby-blue-Bentley-driving drug-dealing vampire. He is also a geeky mad scientist with stereotypical messy hair, glasses, and labcoat. He’s even got a pen and notepad in his pocket-protected shirt. He’s a cliché. Beauregard Benson is notorious around town, though, as far as I recall, he has not been mentioned in the previous 10 books).
Benson has the usual gang of thugs who conveniently broadcast their plans in public. (This is a nice service for Gin, but I really think Ashland’s underworld characters should get together at a HOW TO BE A SUPERVILLAIN symposium and have a workshop on “How to Get Your Minions to Keep Their Stupid Mouths Shut.”)
As usual, Benson captures and tortures someone close to Gin. (Actually, this time, it’s Gin herself.) Gin and friends have to get rid of him. There’s the usual big breakfast scene and the usual (boring samey-samey) sex scene. A series of flashbacks from Gin’s early life on the street was a nice touch.
There are lots of reminders about things we already know, but the language is not as repetitive as usual. Not as many mentions of silverstone knives, “violet on gray”, “sloppy, sloppy, sloppy,” “chicory coffee”, etc. For that reason alone, Poison Promise was much less irritating than previous books have been. Also, Estep took more care with the plot. She gives us reasons why characters do things that don’t seem to make sense, such as why Sylvio has to hire her to kill his boss, the mad scientist, instead of doing it himself. I didn’t believe in Sylvio’s explanation, but at least it was an attempt to address the plot problems.
At the end of the story we have two new major characters. One of these looks like he’ll be a great addition to Gin’s set of friends. The other looks like Mab Monroe 2.0. I’m worried that book 12 is basically going to be like starting the entire story over again. Gosh, I hope not.
The audio continues to be very good except that this time I really disliked Lauren Fortgang’s voice for the villain. I think she ran out of voices and did something really weird with the pacing, accent and breathiness to try to get Beauregard Benson to sound different from the other characters. It was annoying. Fortunately, I don’t think we’ll be hearing from Beauregard Benson ever again.