Hero for Hire is a fast-paced, quick, and entertaining read that combines elements of the classic fairytale, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with a zombie apocalypse. The authors have created archetypal characters that most of us are familiar with who have become survivalists in the aftermath of a wide-spread outbreak that turns those infected into zombies.
It’s hard to miss the allusions to Snow White throughout the plot. The princess (as Rafe Charming calls her) is Gwyn, a scientist at Paragon Pharmaceuticals who’s determined to find a cure for the virus. Her efforts are thwarted when her arch nemesis, Miriam, steals Gwyn’s notes and then uses Gwyn as a scapegoat after Miriam’s modified antidote fails. After being banished from what is dubbed as the “zombie center” Gwyn continues her scientific work in an abandoned lab, only leaving when necessary to forage for supplies.
Gwyn blames herself for her failure to save the infected, those once human who now aimlessly roam the city searching for prey to sate their bloodlust. After a life-threatening attack, Gwyn realizes that she will never make any progress in finding a cure without help. This damsel-in-distress finds her way to Rafe Charming, a “hero for hire” safely tucked away behind an impenetrable fortress where he provides a safe haven for orphaned children and gets support from Doc, the epitome of the “wise old man” who aids the hero and heroine by providing sage advice and backup when needed.
At first Rafe appears to be a hardened, dispassionate man with who is only concerned with what will benefit him. He demands some type of payment from Gwyn before he will help her. Since Gwyn has nothing of material value for Rafe, he suggests a more intimate form of payment. However, it becomes obvious that Rafe is much more than the man he appears to be, as he and Gwyn successfully negotiate a deal for the greater good of humanity.
Expect lots of drama and danger as both Rafe and Gwyn risk their lives in their quest to find the stolen journals that Gwyn is certain will help her find a way to halt or even reverse the virus. There are numerous battle scenes with zombies, although these scenes aren’t very gory, a romance that develops quickly and includes a very sexy love scene, all of which reiterate the point that life is a precious gift and should be cherished every day. The pivotal point in the story occurs when Gwyn is reunited with Miriam, and just like in the fairytale, this wicked queen of the zombie center has looked into the mirror and found that she is far from the fairest of them all. Her shocking transformation adds to the increasing danger and suspense as Rafe searches for a way to save his princess before it’s too late.
I do wish the plot was more elaborate and allowed for greater character development instead of the flat, stock characters typically found in fairytales. Overall, though, I appreciated the authors’ creativity and their departure from relying upon the stereotypical traits often associated with zombies.
I received a copy of this book from the author for an honest review.