The Hunchback Assignments

The Hunchback Assignments

Book - 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.

Visit The Hunchback Assignments web site for up-to-date news, games and information about the series.

Publisher: Toronto : HarperCollins, 2009
ISBN: 9781554683550
Characteristics: 275 p. ; 23 cm


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Nineteenth century London is the setting for Arthur Slade’s YA steampunk spy thriller series. Blending espionage, fantastical adventure and a hint of melancholy, we follow teen secret agents Modo, a disfigured hunchback with the amazing ability to transform his appearance, and Octavia, fierce and cunning as they battle Her Majesty’s enemies. Plucked from poverty, orphans Octavia and Modo have been trained as two of England’s finest agents, yet they are still teenagers, unsure of themselves in one breath, filled with brazen determination in the next, making both sympathetic and richly drawn heroes. Led by the mysterious and authoritative Mr. Socrates, they delve into the underbelly of the sinister criminal organization, the Clockwork Guild. Original and compelling, the amalgamation of steampunk and adventure make this book, the first in a series, an impressive debut. This book is highly recommended for steampunk enthusiasts unafraid to be found reading YA. (submitted by QP)

Jul 09, 2013

Quasimodo as a super steampunk spy! I have to admit I am a sucker for a cool premise, and this one is really unique. It is also well-written and interesting.

Pyromancer Apr 23, 2013

Highly encourage others to read it. I like how the way descriptions are so vividly described. Not many books have main characters taken place in the 1800s-1900s. Most are in modern/future times or in ancient times.

Jun 14, 2012

An interesting book. Slade incorporates elements of various Victorian era classics, but the result is unique. I've never read a character quite like Modo.

teacupfaerie Aug 16, 2011


"Before you meet the world, you must first know yourself. Do you understand?" Modo looked from teacher to master and back again. "Do you understand?"

Modo nodded hesitantly.

With that, Mr. Socrates pulled a small hand mirror from his vest pocket……The glittering mirror hypnotized Modo. Mr. Socrates turned the mirror slowly towards Modo's face.

Modo looked in the glass and saw, for the first time in his life, his own eye blinking. One eye was larger than the other, protruding like an insect's. His enormous teeth were crooked. Bright red hair grew in clumps on his head. He had imagined his face as everything from beautiful to scarred and ugly, but this was much worse than he'd dreamed-uglier than any illustration he had ever seen. Disbelief turned to horror and Modo's eyes grew wide and welled with tears.

He looked up at Mrs. Finchley and whispered, "You told me I was beautiful."

Modo has been rescued from a freak show touring the suburbs of London, England, by Mr. Socrates. This mysterious stranger trains Modo in his gift of shape shifting. Modo can make his ugly countenance into a replica of any person he can imagine. For the first twelve years of his life, he is kept in a house, without going outside, and has no human contact save the servants. There, he learns how to fight, read and write. He learns how to be the ultimate spy for Mr. Socrates' secret organization. But when he is left stranded on the streets of London with no money, he has to learn to fend for himself. Modo sets up as a detective, and his first big case nearly gets him killed. His foe is the Clockwork Guild, a secret organization with world domination on its mind. They use the services of Dr. Hyde to create the ultimate weapon to destroy London.

The Hunchback Assignments is written in the steampunk genre. This genre encompasses Edwardian and Victorian England and the use of steam power. The text is full of crazy inventions, including a steam powered quadriplegic and a robotic sparrow. It has disturbing moments for those unfamiliar with the genre, and the insinuation of child torture is a bit much to handle. In short, this novel is not for those with a weak stomach.

The setting is aptly described, and readers can visualize the scenery as it is presented. The text is often jumpy and stilted and leaves something to be desired. In general, the characters are presented well enough, and Modo is well fleshed out. But the secondary characters are two dimensional, and the reader lacks an affinity for them. Overall, this book is an adequate representation of what the genre is supposed to be, but not spectacular by any means.


May 02, 2011

Sometimes it got confusing and at the beginning it was not very attention catching. It was a very good book with exciting events.

May 01, 2011

This story is about a boy named Modo, he can transform his face and is set off to be a secrate agent. He does a lot of mission and gets almost killed in most of the mission. All his missions were to stop this mad scientist. At his last mission he was sent to protect the city of London england from the hugh machine and not hurt the mind controlled children on the machine.

It's cool

Apr 30, 2011

The story line was a little confusing at times, but it was exciting

Apr 27, 2011

At parts there was a lot of suspense and although there were lots of dangerous events, it was a great read. Modo uses his special ability to get himself out of problems.

Apr 26, 2011

this book was extreamly good! if you want to read any book read this one!

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Jun 14, 2012

agent391 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

VeganGreen Aug 12, 2010

VeganGreen thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 11 and 15


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