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The Hunchback Assignments (The Hunchback Assignments #1)

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  2,219 ratings  ·  307 reviews
A gripping new series combines Steampunk, spying, and a fantastic Victorian London.

The mysterious Mr. Socrates rescues Modo, a child in a traveling freak show. Modo is a hunchback with an amazing ability to transform his appearance, and Mr. Socrates raises him in isolation as an agent for the Permanent Association, a spy agency behind Brittania’s efforts to rule the empire...more
Hardcover, 278 pages
Published September 22nd 2009 by Wendy Lamb Books (first published September 22nd 2007)
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The first in a new series, this is the story of a hideously deformed boy with a fantastic secret, one that saves him from life as freak in a traveling show.

Modo, the young boy, is rescued from a cage in the back of a gypsy's wagon by Mr. Socrates. He is then sent to Ravenscroft, a house in the country, and spends the next thirteen years inside the house with his caretaker Mrs. Finchley, an assortment of tutors, and his training master, Tharpa. Over the years, Mr. Socrates trains him in a variety...more
May 12, 2009 Arthur added it  ·  (Review from the author)
I wrote it
Every summer I attend San Diego Comic Con, where I often frequent the the Random House booth, and try to get as many Advanced Reader's Copies as I possibly can; and usually, I read these books withing the month, but in this case it took me a while to get to the book. Well, I finally picked this one off my shelf and decided to read it; I could not put it down! I finished it in two days (September 22-23). The back of the book does not quite do this book justice, but gives one the main idea of the...more
Reading level: Middle Grades Plus (MG+ 6 and up)
Hardcover: 288 pages
Word Count: 63217
Main Focus Group: Boys
I haven't read much at this point in the genre of steam punk (think of H.G. Wells on steroids) but I really liked this book. Much like Alex Rider or one of the CHERUB Agents, this story revolves around a teenage boy, Modo and teenage girl, Octavia, saving the world (well in this case just London).
In this, the opening book of the series we are introduced to the main players. First is Mr. Soc...more
"The large carriage rattled with grotesqueries -- bones of cats and pigs strung up as wind chimes, bleached bear skulls dangling from wires, and three shrunken monkey heads mounted on posts."

This is where Modo is found as a child -- living in a cage in a traveling freak show, exhibited as "L'enfant du Monstre" for his hunchback and other heavy deformities. A mysterious benefactor, Mr. Socrates, rescues him from this life and raises him in seclusion, with only his nursemaid and an instructor for...more
3 1/2 stars; I love the "steampunk" setting, and thought it was a really neat concept.
An Odd1
"The Hunchback Assignments" are tasks performed by deformed Modo for the Victorian Empire. I see why Arthur Slade wins awards. This is a cracking scary steampunk adventure yarn, with a hint of attraction between brave and funny teens in my beloved old London.
Mr. Socrates, head of the secret Permanent Association dedicated to Britain's preservation, rescues the orphan and trains him to age 14, seeing the potential in his chameleon ability to temporarily transform his appearance. With luminous Oc...more
Nicola Mansfield
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 se...more
I really liked this book! Have you ever finished a story and felt sort of smug on the author's behalf?

"Yep that was brilliant all right - ooh he is good!"

That is the feeling that this book evokes. It has got everything you could wish for - a splash of romance, a dash of mystery, a thimbleful of intrigue and a whole bowl full of danger!

Modo is an ugly child, saved from life as a traveling "freak show" attraction by the enigmatic Mr. Socrates. Mr. Socrates is a man high up in the hierarchy of a...more
I read this book in a day and really enjoyed it. If you like steampunk combined with fantasy elements you'll probably like The Hunchback Assignments.

The main character Modo is a deformed hunchback with a heartbreaking story. He hates himself for the way he looks and just wants to be normal. Despite his outward appearance he has a heart of gold and I found him to be a really likable character throughout the entire book.

Octavia. What a character. One minute that girl was charming a cab driver to...more
Sara Olson
I picked up “The Hunchback Assignments” by Arthur Slade randomly last week at the library. I was bored and feeling risky.

The book is loosely, and I mean loosely based on “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” by Victor Hugo. Okay, so I haven’t exactly read Hugo’s classic, but I did read the Wikipedia synopsis, and I have seen the Disney movie, so I’m basically an expert now.

The book is set in late 1800s England, and follows Modo – a shape-shifting hunchback who is raised in seclusion until he’s 14. At th...more
Apr 01, 2012 X rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to X by: Q
Okay, so it looked like it would be better than it was. Or maybe I was just expecting something more. In any event, I did find it enjoyable and exciting - though the ending was a bit lack luster - and I loved the steampunk setting. Maybe the second book will live up to my expectations a bit better.
Cascata Nerina
Feb 28, 2011 Cascata Nerina rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: See my review
If you want a more in depth preview: It definitely combined the classics of the Hunchback of Notre Dame (most notably in the main character) and that of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. (In one of the other characters and some of the plot). However, as a whole the novel was definitely original and new. A steam punk coming of age set in a world of classics.

The plot itself was twisted and convoluted, and yet also straight forward. I would say that if you're paranoid it makes it a much more difficult read...more
Make that a 3.5 star rating.
First off, if I remember correctly, this is a YA book, so I have to keep that mind in reviewing it. The writing is well done, and the characters are very well done. Modo's life, and him growing as a character was interesting to watch, as was Octavia's softening towards him and losing her bitchy/selfish attitude.

The world for this book is actually fairly interesting, with Slade's take on steampunk to be fairly unique in some regards, especially with Hyde's formula an...more
Mel Z
Arthur Slade has really done it again with this first book in his new steampunk series. Without a doubt, The Hunchback Assignments was one of my favourite books of the year - an exciting read from start to finish. Set in an alternative Victorian era, Slade takes his readers through the streets, alleys, rooftops and sewers of London. Modo, the main character, is a deformed hunchbacked boy with the ability to shapeshift - one of my favourite characters of all times. He is an amazing hero that is s...more
Laura Morrigan
What if Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre Dame worked as a secret agent for a mysterious man protecting the interests of Victorian England? This rollicking Steampunk adventure answers that question, while sweeping through a fast paced series of excitement and adventure.

Modo is an ugly hunchbacked child, rescued by Mr. Socrates from a freak show, due to his amazing ability to shape shift. Brought up in a remote country house, teenage Modo is without warning flung out into the dangerous world of L...more
Lelia Taylor
The Hunchback Assignments
Arthur Slade
Narrated by Jayne Entwistle
Listening Library, 2009
ISBN 0739380206
Unabridged Audio Book

Modo is an abandoned child in Victorian London, a child with such a fearsome appearance that no one could possibly care for him. Mr. Socrates, though, a mysterious gentleman of means, takes Modo in and raises him in a somewhat aloof fashion but with a purpose in mind. A governess and a man with martial skills are his only companions and teachers but the approval of Mr. Socra...more
Molly Pace
Mr. Socrates found Modo when he was four years old, hunchbacked and deformed, locked in a cage by gypsies who charged pennies to come and stare at the “Demon child.” He paid for Modo’s education and for the upstairs room where he lived hidden from the world. His only companions were Mrs. Finchley, a retired actress who served as his governess, and Tharpa, Mr. Socrates’ man who taught him hand-to-hand combat and physical fitness. It was not the most ordinary of childhoods, but then, Modo was not...more
I love picking up a book and immediately thinking of several kids to give it to. There's a historical setting, which is there more for atmosphere than anything else, an orphaned hunchback with a knack for rearranging his features, a benevolent (or is he?) father figure, plenty of steampunk-ish machines, a few strolls through London's sewers, plenty of action, mysterious associations and secret plots...what more do you need? Plus, the audio version is perfectly narrated, with accents and enough d...more
A fast-paced, fantastically-steampunky read! I hadn't planned to read the whole book in one sitting at all, but I ended up pouring through it only a few hours after I bought it! Riveting good stuff.

I really do like the fact that the steampunk elements aren't thrown in as a second thought here, as so many authors are wont to do nowadays. The technology is at the heart of The Hunchback Assignments, with a sympathetic and well fleshed-out protagonist to boot. Modo is quite an interesting character...more
Christophe Ang
I'm only halfway through the book, but from what I understand it's a science/fantasy novel taking place in Great Britain during the 1800s. It follows the telling tale of a deformed hunchback from France (much like the Hunchback of Notre Dame) that has the ability to shapeshift. He is adopted by a man named Socrates who takes care of him for many years and developing him into a secret agent. When Modo, the hunchback, becomes 15, he is then appointed his first assignment and put to use from Socrat...more
Deformed, hideous Modo is discovered at age 1 by a mysterious and powerful man, who determines that Modo shall be raised and trained to enter his service as an agent. Modo is in his teens before he is allowed to leave the rooms in which he has spent his whole life, and Mr. Socrates unceremoniously dumps him into the middle of London and leaves him to fend for himself. Ever resourceful, bright, and determined, Modo manages to survive, even succeed. When he is unexpectedly called back into service...more
Modo was born disfigured with a hunchback and a disfigured face, but he was also born with a very special gift. The ability to twist and change his appearance to take on the looks and characteristics of anyone. This made him a very valuable person for Mr. Socrates to add to him secretive team of agents. Mr. Socrates snatched Modo from a freak show and raised him as his own. He moved him to the country side and give him a good education, and a lot of training in investigating and spying. Then he...more
A steampunk mystery starring a shapeshifting hunchback boy named Modo who encounters an evil scientist by the name of Dr. Hyde--very entertaining! Kind of dark and spooky, very Victorian, with lots of action and also featuring a clever heroine named Octavia, a former Cockney pickpocket who's now a trained agent for the resourceful Mr. Socrates. They have to stop the nasty Clockwork Guild before their creations ruin all of London! I really enjoyed this and I'm looking forward to the sequel. Recom...more
Rick F.
Arthur Slade is an author that few can rival when it comes to magical "steampunk" novels...simply said. The Hunchback Assignments follows the adventures of Modo, a hunchbacked teenager in Victorian London. Together with one of the most memorable characters in literature, Octavia Milkweed, a rescued urchin- the reader journeys into the very depths of London as our two heroes become involved with the Coclwork Guild, a maniacal organization bent on the destruction of the British Empire. The attenti...more
In spite of a lot of action and the kind of suspense that makes you hold onto the page just so you can turn it faster, the main action, yes, main...doesn't start till waaaay later in the book. And then suddenly it's just one astounding, mind-blowing epiphany topped off with a climax that is rather short-lived. I loooove all the descriptions of the technology and chemical chimeras. Wish there were more. Tavia's friendliness is somewhat of a cliche. Skip. I understand that the cold fascade of Mr....more
One word: flat. No wait, I have lots more words. Dreary. Miserable. Highlights the worst of humanity while providing us with a completely unimaginative story arc. When I got to the climax of the action I couldn't possibly believe that that was all it was - I had guessed as much a hundred pages ago. Maybe this would appeal to a certain age of young boy, but I was just not feeling it. I would have abandoned it, but it was barely over 200 pages, so I slogged through it. Felt like 500 pages by the e...more
Modo has grown up under the care of Mr. Socrates, learning much from books and tutors but completely isolated from the real world. It may have been a kindness---Modo is a hunchback with lopsided features, and once he was made aware of his appearance he was also warned how the world would react to it. But Modo has a gift that allows him to change his appearance, and it is that gift that Mr. Socrates intends to use. The opportunity comes sooner than Modo expects when the Clockwork Guild's machinat...more
Nancy Sebert
I might not have picked up this book except that I wanted a book on CD for my car and it was one that was available in the YA section of my local library. I was pleasantly surprised by its version of Quasimodo, who, in this story, was found by one secret society and groomed to be a super soldier who could defeat the evil "clockwork" guild, another secret organization that was working with a Dr. Jekyll type scientist to create a hybrid of human and machine. The Quasimodo character was called Modo...more
TeenFiction Teton County Library

Chris’s Rating: 4.5 Stars
Modo, a strong, but hideously deformed shape-shifting hunchback, is “rescued” (bought), by Mr. Socrates as an infant and trained to be a special agent for an organization so secret the British government scarcely knows it exists. Modo yearns to escape the confines of the building he has spent most of his life hidden within, but when the opportunity forces itself upon him, things are not exactly what he expects. On the streets without any friends, Mo...more
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What was your favourite book in this series and why. 2 7 Jul 05, 2013 04:04PM  
  • Heart of Veridon (The Burn Cycle, #1)
  • The Falling Machine (The Society of Steam, #1)
  • Mainspring (Clockwork Earth #1)
  • Worldshaker (Worldshaker, #1)
  • Whitechapel Gods
  • Unnatural History (Pax Britannia, #1)
  • The Bookman (The Bookman Histories, #1)
  • Clockwork Heart (Clockwork Heart, #1)
  • The Clockwork Man
  • The Doomsday Vault (Clockwork Empire, #1)
  • Wild Cards and Iron Horses
  • Extraordinary Engines: The Definitive Steampunk Anthology
  • Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded (Steampunk, #2)
  • Larklight (Larklight, #1)
  • Ghosts of Manhattan (The Ghost, #1)
  • The Buntline Special (Weird West Tales, #1)
  • Thomas Riley
  • The Alchemy of Stone
Arthur Slade was raised in the Cypress Hills of southwest Saskatchewan and began writing at an early age. He received an English Honours degree from the University of Saskatchewan, spent several years writing advertising and now writes fiction full time. He is the author of the "Canadian Chills" series of books, "Dust" (which won the Governor General's award), "Tribes," and "Jolted." He currently...more
More about Arthur Slade...
Dust The Dark Deeps (The Hunchback Assignments, #2) Empire of Ruins (The Hunchback Assignments, #3) Jolted: Newton Starker's rules for survival Island of Doom (The Hunchback Assignments, #4)

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