Review: Hench

Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Although not usually a genre I seek out, on the recommendation of author Seanan McGuire and my blogging buddy Alex of Alex Can Read, I requested the ARC of Hench and was delighted with it. Walschots has developed an interesting world in which the line between superhero and villain is blurred into many shades of gray. Where superheroes can leave a trail of collateral damage and villains can turn out to be heroes because of their loyalty and surprising kindness.

Anna Tromedlov (read "Trauma'ed-love") aka Palindrome is working for a temp agency that is keeping her financially afloat. She gets what she thinks is a dream placement that might become permanent working for a villain named the Electric Eel. Things seem to be going along swimmingly until the Eel kidnaps the mayor's son for ransom and puts Anna right in the middle of the crime scene without her prior knowledge or consent. In the ensuing rescue, she's badly injured by the superhero Supercollider who pulls off the rescue. She isn't charged but will take months to heal and is promptly laid off by the temp agency with little more than a fruit basket for severance. It leaves Anna with a lot of questions. Are superheroes actually good for society? Like any good data jockey with time on her hands, Anna starts researching, and out of her research comes some startling revelations and a new job working for Leviathan, a villain with a fearsome reputation. Life is full of surprises, as are villains and superheroes.

I loved the character development and shades of morality explored in this book. Although it sort of strays into a grimdark view of the world, it's also full of wry humor and genuine connection between some of the characters. All in all, it's a diverting read, and the audiobook, narrated by Alex McKenna was an enjoyable listen.

I received a paper review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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