byArthur Slade

Hardcover | August 28, 2009

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There are rumors that a hunchback infant in a gypsy freakshow has the power to transform his appearance. This comes to the attention of Mr. Socrates, a member of the shadowy Permanent Association, who decides to take the boy back to England and raise him for his own purposes. Naming him Modo, Mr. Socrates keeps the boy indoors and never lets him see his deformity, while putting him through training to be a secret agent. When Modo turns 14, his education is complete. He is handed a mirror and confronts his image for the first time, horrified. Then, he is taken to foggy, polluted London and abandoned, penniless, to test his skills.

But Modo is resourceful, and he finds a way to get by, keeping to himself… until one day, when the beautiful Octavia Milkweed knocks on his door. soon, with the help of Mr. Socrates, they find themselves uncovering a sinister plot being carried out in the very sewers beneath their feet. Will they be able to stop the mad scientist Dr. Hyde and his even more terrifying associates before they unleash their monstrous plans upon unsuspecting Londoners?

The start of a fantastic series, in the hot new genre of steampunk, The Hunchback Assignments takes readers into the sewers and alleyways of an alternative Victorian London, in an unputdownable adventure.

“Steampunk is hot, and here the tropes are further enlivened by literary shout-outs…. An excellent start to a promising new series.”--Kirkus Reviews ()
Title:The HUNCHBACK ASSIGNMENTSFormat:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 8.81 × 5.75 × 1 inPublished:August 28, 2009Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1554683548

ISBN - 13:9781554683543

Appropriate for ages: 9 - 12


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Exciting Steampunk for Kids This is a fun steampunk novel for the middle school age group. There is so much adventure and imagination in this book that is is sure to appeal to a wide range of readers. Modo is an incredibly ugly, hunchbacked young orphan who can change his appearance at will He was brought up in isolation by the mysterious Mr. Socrates to be a secret agent. I really felt for him in this book, he is so young and sheltered in so many ways, but so smart and able to fight at the same time. The scenes where he tries to come to terms with his appearance are touching and really add a human element to the book. Modo teams up with Octavia Milkweed, a beautiful but street smart young woman who is also part of Mr. Socrates' secret organization. Mr Socrates is a shady and mysterious character who heads an ultra secret agency that is trying to protect the British Empire. Then there are the supporting characters and bad guys who also add so much to the book. The crazy Dr Hyde, is brilliant with all of his potions and clockwork mechanisms. Hakkandottir is an amazing, diabolical evil woman who kids will love to hate. Slade throws these characters into horrifying scenarios where Modo and Octavia have to use their brains and instincts if they are to defeat the Clockwork Guild and their horrible, yet fascinating, scientific plans. I really enjoyed the setting of Victorian London and the throwing together of the Hunchback and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde stories to create something unique and interesting. The clockwork gadgets and science aspects of the book mixed with well to create exciting action, mystery and intrigue. Then there is Slade's writing, which is sure to keep kids reading. This book will appeal to both boys and girls who have an interest in history and science, as well as those who like fast paced adventure.
Date published: 2011-10-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great for steampunk fans This book was a real fun and enjoyable read. The beginning of the book started off as intriguing and interesting that you were immediately curious as to what was going to happen next. The description of the different inventions and machinery in the book were well written and could be easily pictured in one’s mind while reading. I really did like the plot, it was fast, lots of action on the pages, lots of intrigue (I love intrigue!) and mystery, and naturally it story leaves you with what’s next on Modo’s agenda. There is plenty of steampunk here for those that love the genre. I especially like the clockwork birds. Modo is very easily liked and he’s your typical “although he’s deformed, he’s got a heart of gold” type of character. Mr Socrates is your typical “boss” character, stonefaced, hardly any emotion, and usually is just there to tell others what to do. All characters in the book are likable and fun in their own way(Octavia is very interesting). I really did like the secret society concept used in the book. It gives the plot more mystery and especially if a member of royalty involved it enhances the mystery and intrigue even more. Yet even after being finished with the book there are still questions needed to be answered about this society and it’s obvious that we have not seen the last of them yet. What bugged me about the book was the animal experimentation.Yet it wasn’t graphical and bloody, but the idea still bothered me though. Another thing I didn’t like is sometimes the description - a particular description of a machine was very hard for me to picture. Then again that could be because I’m not so mechanically inclined - perhaps other readers may find it easier to figure it out. Overall, a great book for children and adults alike, an even bigger treat for those that are into steampunk fiction. This is a great start to a very exciting series and I’m definitely looking forward to reading the second book (which in fact, I have taken out of the library recently).
Date published: 2010-08-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderfully inventive This book is like a cross between a William Gibson Novel, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and the Matrix. Modo is a secret agent; he was raised almost from birth by Mr. Socrates who is a member of a secret agency within, or on top of, the British Government. Their goal is to protect all things British and to make the world in its own image. But unlike Neo's ability to shape his reality, Modo can shape himself. He can change his looks and appearance and Mr. Socrates believes this gift will make him an excellent agent. Therefore he invests years in his upbringing and training in all the skills he will require. The story is classed as SteamPunk. It takes a historic setting, time and place and adds in technology they did not have at the time. Kind of an alternate reality storyline. Once the adventure begins the story is a race to the climax. Modo meets another agent of Socrates, a beautiful young woman named Octavia Milkweed and together they must discover the truth around missing children - a missing grandson of the queen and strange stories of feral children with incredible strength, and bolts coming out of their shoulders. Their enemies are a mysterious Clockwork Guild and their mad scientist Dr. Hyde. This story was great fun to read. After the first few chapters about Modo's upbringing, it races through to a great battle. The story is compelling and Modo, with his abilities and his difficulties, is a charming protagonist. It is another great novel by Governor General Award-winning Canadian author, Arthur Slade. We can only hope it will be the first in a series, for upon finishing the book you are left wanting more and wondering what will happen between Modo and Octavia.
Date published: 2010-03-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mad Scientist, Victorian England and a Hunchback! 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. 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
Date published: 2009-11-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from If You Loved James Bond... For those who loved James Bond, gobbled up the Alex Rider series and cannot get enough of C.H.E.R.U.B., I recommend this series to you. It is essentially a thriller about a secret agent who secretly challenges the most devious people in Victorian society. WARNING: This is a series. It took me a bit of research to figure that out, so I thought I'd inform you, too. At first I was thoroughly confused by the ending because, essentially, it solves nothing. I mean, the crime is solved but you don't yet understand the overall plot arch, the thing between Octavia and Modo is just sort of abandoned, and you're not entirely sure of who to trust within the story. However, it is a series, so I assume all will be revealed. On the story itself. I must first state that I did like it. However, I didn't love it. Perhaps this has got to do with the whole series thing, but I didn't find myself quite deep enough into the characters. I didn't find myself caring immensely. I felt like there need to be more internal drama or tension or whatever within Modo. As well, I thought that everything was just a little bit too easy. Perhaps this is because of the audience (preteen to early teen boys), I don't know. However, I would read the next book. In fact, I would like to. I liked the setting and the feeling of it. My only problem is I want the story to go deeper, preferably while still keeping the action. There is a lot of action, so if that's your thing then it's awesome. I think maybe my point is that this story would be better in the hands of the right reader. So, you should read it to find out if that's you.
Date published: 2009-09-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from dark offering from one of canada's finest Another fine offering from Canadian YA author Arthur Slade. Capitalizing on the current popularity of Steampunk, Slade puts his unique thumbprint on the genre. Featuring relatable characters( one female protagonist;one male); mazes and turns down gritty Victorian London alleys; dark mysteries and grotesque science, 12+ readers will be enthralled. Slade's vocabulary and fresh turns- of -phrase make this a perfect read aloud book. The only thing missing is the unique Canadian-ness so inherent in his previous novels. The beginning of what promises to be a fresh and original series, older readers (like myself) who hanker after smart YA fiction will not want to miss it.
Date published: 2009-09-09

Editorial Reviews

“Steampunk is hot, and here the tropes are further enlivened by literary shout-outs…. An excellent start to a promising new series.”
--Kirkus Reviews ()