Jennifer Estep has provided a wealth of wonderful short stories to fill in the blanks of her Elemental Assassin series. Most can be found free on her website. Here’s a breakdown:
Poison – One of three prequels to the first novel. It’s told from Finn’s perspective. It seems Gin’s foster brother wasn’t always her biggest fan. In this story, Finn is 15 and Gin, at 13, has just come to live with him and his dad. He is jealous that his father has decided to train Gin to be an assassin instead of him. But Gin really saves Finn’s bacon when he gets into a tough spot, cementing a friendship that will last them a lifetime.
Web of Deceit – This is the second prequel story. It is told from the point of view of Fletcher, Gin’s adopted father and mentor. He watches as Gin undertakes her first solo mission as an assassin. She is 16. The target: two brothers who are kidnapping teens and pimping them out. It’s nice to get to know the old guy a little and see the love he has for Gin.
Spider’s Bargain – The final prequel to the first novel follows Gin on one of her hits. In this case, she’s going after a dirty cop named Cliff Ingleas. Cliff has been forcing sex out of vampire hookers and has most recently raped and beaten a 13 year-old girl. When she learns what he has done, Gin decides to kill him for free. The events of this story are referenced in Spider’s Bite.
Web of Death – This story takes place between the events of Spider’s Bite and Web of Lies. Gin has retired from the assassin business and is in the process of moving into Fletcher’s old house, when she comes across a female vampire prostitute being attacked. Taking down the two male vamps who were doing the attacking gives Gin the first real excitement she’s had in her life since she left the killing business.
Wasted – This short story takes place in between the events of Web of Lies and Venom. And it’s told from Finn’s point of view. When a beautiful woman passes him over to start up an affair with his boss, Finn knows something is up. Sure enough, she has less than honorable intentions and Finn makes it his own mission to keep her plan from succeeding. A cameo from Xavier helps set up the main story arc regarding Roslyn in the next book.
Tangled Dreams – This short story takes place in between the events of Venom and Tangled Threads. And here we get a tale from both Devereaux sisters. Gin is injured saving a mother and daughter from some carjackers and comes to Jo-Jo for help. We learn what healing is like from Jo-Jo’s perspective, but more importantly, we learn a little more about her other gifts (like prophesy.) When the surviving carjacker tracks Gin to the house, Jo-Jo takes care of him herself and calls her sister to clean up the mess. Sophia picks up the rest of the story, giving us a closer look at her elemental gifts and how they are different from her sister’s.
Tangled Schemes – Here we get a story from Bria’s point of view and it takes place just before the events of Tangled Threads. Bria is trying to track down her sister and learn the identity of the Spider, obviously having no idea that they are one in the same. We get her perspective on why she came to Ashland and even a little bonus conversation with (the weenie-toad) Donovan Caine. Bria gets herself in a tight spot as she continues her investigation, but manages to come out of it all ok in the end.
Spider’s Nemesis – Here we see the murders of Gin’s mother and sister from Mab’s point of view. The story starts where Tangled Threads leaves off and Mab is contemplating who the mysterious Spider is. She remembers the first time she met Gin’s mother as well as the meeting with the great-aunt who foretold her death at the hands of a Snow girl. Pretty cool to see the pieces all fall into place as Mab slowly figures out who her nemesis really is.
Thread of Death – Reviewed here.