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HENCH by Natalie Zina Walschots Kirkus Star


by Natalie Zina Walschots

Pub Date: Sept. 22nd, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-06-297857-8
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

An aggrieved Millennial henchwoman sets out to prove that not all heroes are super in poet Walschots’ fiction debut.

Shortly after freelance “hench” Anna Tromedlov lands a full-time job entering data for Electrophorous Industries, her boss—a minor supervillain known as the Electric Eel—offers her some fieldwork. Anna is nervous but excited—until she discovers that she’s simply female set dressing for the Eel’s latest press conference. When her employer publicly announces that he’s holding the mayor’s son for ransom, Supercollider—an A-list superhero—crashes through the window, saving the boy but killing multiple henches and shattering Anna’s femur in the process. Upon learning that her surgically repaired leg will take six months to heal, a laid-off Anna moves in with her best friend, fellow hench June. While convalescing, Anna starts calculating approximately how many dollars and life-years the Supercollider and other so-called “heroes” have cost not just her, but the world at large. She posts her findings online, earning public scorn—and the attention of Leviathan, the world’s most infamous supervillain and Supercollider’s archnemesis. Evocative prose, acerbic wit, and patient yet propulsive pacing complement Walschots’ sophisticated plot, which juxtaposes philosophic profundity with brutal, meticulously choreographed action. Boldly drawn characters of sundry ethnicities, sexualities, and gender identities engage in realistically complex relationships that evolve (and devolve) over the course of the tale, illustrating the relativity of good and evil, the corrupting influence of power, and the necrotic nature of revenge.

A fiendishly clever novel that fizzes with moxie and malice.