November 30, 2011

The Hunchback Assignments

A recent posting from author Arthur Slade (thank you!) shared the sad news that the fourth book of this series, due out in the summer of 2012, will the final instalment in Modo's story. Gasp! To postpone the imminent feeling of loss I will definitely feel after reading that book, I'd like to share reviews of the first three books in this series, and urge you to get your hands on these great steampunk adventures.Official Hunchback Assignments website

The Hunchback Assignments
by Arthur Slade
HarperCollins Canada
978-1-55468-354-3
275 pp.
Ages 12+
2009

The Dark Deeps: The Hunchback Assignments II
by Arthur Slade
HarperCollins Canada
978-1-55468-357-4
256 pp.
Ages12+
2010

Empire of Ruins: The Hunchback Assignments III
by Arthur Slade
HarperCollins Canada
978-1-55468-358-1
256 pp.
Ages 12+
2011


In the first book, The Hunchback Assignments, Modo, the hunchback of the title, is rescued from a travelling show by the mysterious Mr. Socrates, who learned of the boy's unique ability to transform his appearance.  At Ravenscroft where Mr. Socrates has deposited Modo, he is trained in all skills, physical and intellectual, under the care and tutelage of Mrs. Finchley and Tharpa, his combat instructor.  Unfortunately, Modo also learns that his appearance can be frightening to others, but he becomes deft at manipulating it. At 14, Modo is abandoned by Mr. Socrates on the streets of London to undertake his first “assignmentinvolving a dangerous secret society, the Clockwork Guild.  The Guild, directed by Miss Hakkandottir, has recruited the evil Dr. Cornelius Hyde to help harness the anger of children to power a machine.  (It’s actually quite horrible when you think of it, but the horror is riveting.) During his assignment, Modo makes the acquaintance of Octavia (Tavia) Milkweed, another agent of Mr. Socrates, whose acting and daring impress him as much as her curiosity about him.

Modo continues to grapple with his deformity in The Dark Deeps while struggling with his growing need for companionship, brought on when he and Octavia must act as husband and wife to investigate the activities of French spy Colette Brunet and something called Ictineo. Without revealing too much, Modo uncovers an underwater steamship, a burgeoning underwater community, and an invisible saboteur.

In Empire of Ruins: The Hunchback Assignments III, Modo, Octavia, Mr. Socrates, Tharpa and Mrs. Finchley travel to Queensland, Australia to discover the nature of the God Face, associated with an Egyptian temple filled with treasure but attributed to driving men mad. In their ship, the Prince Albert, Modo and company, including the crew led by local balloonist, Lizzie, must deal with the Clockwork Guild in their airship, the Prometheus, and their arsenal of weaponry which now includes vicious mechanical birds capable of poisoning. The quest for the temple and the God Face may direct the plot, but it is the relationships between friends and foes and natives that fuels it.

Arthur Slade’s foray into steam-punk provides a brilliant vehicle for merging the sensibilities of Victorian England and the riveting science of the future while sharing the passage of Modo from a pawn but highly-skilled agent of Mr. Socrates to a young man who discovers (creates?) his identity, one solidly based in moral obligation and kindness.

And if those details aren't enough to make you delve into The Hunchback Assignments, then the deficiency is in my telling of their stories. Maybe the trailers created for Books I and II (see below) will sway your attention.
Uploaded by slade67 on Nov 10, 2009 on youtube.com 



Uploaded by slade67 on May 14, 2010 on youtube.com

No comments:

Post a comment