Hench: A Novel (Hardcover)
The line between good and evil is sometimes just marketing. A temp worker is ill-used by the small-time villain she works for and badly injured by a reckless superhero. Turns out they picked the wrong hench to mess with — one who is tired of the indignities of the gig economy, deeply cynical about superheroes, expert nerd levels at data research and analysis, and now enduring a long convalescence with nothing better to do than obsessively analyze the staggering human costs of the whole superhero system. When she's offered a job with a real villain, with a real salary and excellent benefits, she gets an opportunity to crunch more than the numbers. This is a sly, funny, gritty story that refuses to ignore the complexitites of life for the convenience of a morality tale. But that doesn't mean there isn't a morality tale hiding in here somewhere — you'll find it between the horror and the humor and the humanity.— Dawn
“This book is fast, furious, compelling, and angry as hell." -- Seanan McGuire, New York Times bestselling author
The Boys meets My Year of Rest and Relaxation in this smart, imaginative, and evocative novel of love, betrayal, revenge, and redemption, told with razor-sharp wit and affection, in which a young woman discovers the greatest superpower—for good or ill—is a properly executed spreadsheet.
Anna does boring things for terrible people because even criminals need office help and she needs a job. Working for a monster lurking beneath the surface of the world isn’t glamorous. But is it really worse than working for an oil conglomerate or an insurance company? In this economy?
As a temp, she’s just a cog in the machine. But when she finally gets a promising assignment, everything goes very wrong, and an encounter with the so-called “hero” leaves her badly injured. And, to her horror, compared to the other bodies strewn about, she’s the lucky one.
So, of course, then she gets laid off.
With no money and no mobility, with only her anger and internet research acumen, she discovers her suffering at the hands of a hero is far from unique. When people start listening to the story that her data tells, she realizes she might not be as powerless as she thinks.
Because the key to everything is data: knowing how to collate it, how to manipulate it, and how to weaponize it. By tallying up the human cost these caped forces of nature wreak upon the world, she discovers that the line between good and evil is mostly marketing. And with social media and viral videos, she can control that appearance.
It’s not too long before she’s employed once more, this time by one of the worst villains on earth. As she becomes an increasingly valuable lieutenant, she might just save the world.
A sharp, witty, modern debut, Hench explores the individual cost of justice through a fascinating mix of Millennial office politics, heroism measured through data science, body horror, and a profound misunderstanding of quantum mechanics.
About the Author
Natalie Zina Walschots is a freelance writer, community manager and bailed academic based in Toronto. She writes everything from reviews of science fiction novels and interviews with heavy metal musicians to to in-depth feminist games criticism and pieces of long-form journalism. She is the author of two books of poetry. In her free time she has been exploring the poetic potential of the notes engine in the video game Bloodborne, writing a collection of polyamorous fairytales, developing interactive narrative classes and composing short text-based body horror games. She also plays a lot of D&D, participates in a lot of Nordic LARPs, watches a lot of horror movies and reads a lot of speculative fiction.
“This book is fast, furious, compelling, and angry as hell. It's a beautiful deconstruction of the superhero genre, and I'm only a little annoyed that I didn't think of it first.”
— Seanan McGuire, New York Times bestselling author
“Get ready to root for the bad guys.”
— Jennifer Estep, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Crown of Shards series
“This Anti(super)hero tale is jam-packed with action and fueled by Anna’s breathless, dizzying, exhilarating rage. Anna faces off with the supernatural, but she feels so very real as she rockets along on her furious and furiously-paced trajectory. Hench is a ride—I loved it.”
— Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of Never Have I Ever
"Walschots playfully pokes at both office politics and comic book absurdity while offering gripping action and gut-wrenching body horror. The inventive premise, accessible heroine, and biting wit will have readers eager for more from this talented author."
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A fiendishly clever novel that fizzes with moxie and malice."
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Sharp, unexpected, and hilarious—HENCH takes the classic superhero story and cleverly turns it on its head. Get ready for a delightfully twisted adventure that will make you want to root for the bad guys.”
— Peng Shepherd, author of The Book of M
"Smart, witty, and at times bloody, this book will please comic book fans who wish to take a jab at the superhero tropes, as well as readers who enjoy dark humor with a bit of satire tossed into the mix."
— Library Journal (starred review)
" In this refreshing, subversive, and darkly humorous debut novel, poet and journalist Walscholts slowly reveals the nuances of her superpower-filled world, keeping readers guessing. Hench reads like a comic without the illustrations and is packed with subplots and rapid-fire wit. With a diverse and inclusive cast of characters, Walschots' original tale performs a brilliant and exciting variation on the superhero trope and is not to be missed."
— Booklist (starred review)