In Tangled Threads, the fourth volume of Jennifer Estep’s ELEMENTAL ASSASSIN series, the plot advances satisfactorily. Since you’re reading this review, I’ll assume you’ve read the first three books, Spider’s Bite, Web of Lies, and Venom. I’ll also assume you still like the series if you’re interested in a review of book four.
So, as I said, the plot advances, mostly with Gin’s relationships with both her new boyfriend, Owen Grayson, and her sister Bria Coolidge, the new top cop in town who doesn’t realize that Gin is her sister or that she’s Ashland’s vigilante assassin with stone and ice magic. Of course, fans of the series can’t wait to find out how Bria will react when she eventually discovers the truth. To avoid spoilers, I won’t tell you whether or not that happens in Tangled Threads. I’ll just say that fans who are most interested in Gin’s personal life will enjoy this novel.
On the tactical front, Gin is busy taking down people in Mab Monroe’s organization so she can get close to Mab and kill her. As Tangled Threads opens, Gin has been working on this project for several weeks. While scoping out the area for her latest hit, a new interesting character shows up: Elektra LaFleur, an elemental assassin who creates and controls electricity and who leaves a fresh orchid on each of her kills. (I guess since she uses the name Elektra LaFleur, she’s not worried about the cops figuring out who she is?) Mab has hired Ms LaFleur to kill Gin and Bria. (Good luck with that, Elektra.) So, of course, Gin has to kill Elektra first. I enjoyed Elektra’s electrical magic, though I think it could have been used more cleverly.
Once again, Estep delays the final conflict between Gin and Mab by throwing another of Mab’s major minions in the way so that Gin has to deal with that person instead of Mab. All throughout this series I keep wondering why Gin doesn’t just take out a gun or crossbow and do Mab in. It’d be so much easier, safer, more elegant, and less bloody. It seems like there are so many opportunities to end the war and that it’s only dragged out for the readers’ entertainment. There are plenty of other places where the pot is sloppy (or, as Gin would say, “Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy!”), too. Gin and her friends learn important information because she overhears it, for example, when one thug tells another thug who already knows the information. There are times when Gin’s decision not to use her magic is unconvincing.
Then there is the repetition, another problem we’ve seen in each book. It’s getting to the point now where I can predict some of the words that Estep will use. For example, when she says “luck,” the next words will be “that capricious bitch” and the word “silverstone” almost always precedes “knives.” There are too many examples of this and there are large sections that remind us of things that have happened in the past, or the jewelry that each character wears, or how much coffee they drink, or where they live or what their job or personality is like. When Estep begins one of these frequent spiels, I press the skip-ahead-20-second button on my Audible app.
But if those things haven’t bothered you before now, they probably won’t this time either. Fans of the ELEMENTAL ASSASSIN series should be pleased Tangled Threads because the new villain is fun and there are positive advances in Gin’s personal life.
The audiobooks read by Lauren Fortgang continue to be excellent productions.