The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade
The Hunchback Assignments (1)
Finished: Nov. 3, 2009
First Published: Sep.8, 2009 (Can)/ Sept.22 (US)
Genre: children, YA, fantasy, steampunk
Six hunting hounds had perished in previous experiments.
Reason for Reading: Arthur Slade had a new book out and I was thrilled to find out it was the start of a series. I had been wanting him to venture out into a series. I received a review copy from the publisher, Harper Collins Canada. It also qualifies for the Canadian Reading Challenge.
Summary: Modo is an orphan taken in by Mr. Socrates and kept house-bound for the first thirteen years of his life where he is trained in body and mind. Modo is a hunchback with a terribly disfigured face which is so repugnant to look upon that Mr. Socrates does not allow mirrors in the house until he decides Modo is old enough to see his reflection. Once Modo has been trained to be one of Mr. Socrates secret agents he is sent out into the world where he uncovers a diabolical plot of the mad scientist Mr. Hyde. While investigating he meets Octavia Milkweed and together they must save the orphans of London and the city itself.
Comments: My review could end here and now with one word, brilliant. Arthur Slade comes up with some absolutely amazing plots and this book tops them all. A compelling read, that kept me turning the pages almost faster than I could read them. Modo is a wonderful character, one whom the reader bonds with instantly and feels compassion for, making him a superb hero. Octavia is a strong, yet feminine female hero and the two make for a dynamic pairing.
Slade's writing is as strong as ever. The book contains some quite disturbing scenes which made for a scary read at times but at others the humour is high which gives this quite dark story an even balance of light moments. I loved everything about this book and could simply gush over it. It's got everything you could hope for in a great read. If you like dark tales set in alternate Victorian England featuring mad scientists working with steam engines, clockworks and human bodies this will certainly be a must read for you! I can hardly wait for the next book to see what direction the series takes. The Hunchback Assignments will appeal to both boys and girls (as well as adults) equally. Recommended