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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Hunchback Assignments
The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade is my recent foray into the Steampunk genre. The fantastic looking cover caught my eye in the first place.

It's the story of Modo who is taken in as a baby by Mr Socrates who trains him to be his agent. I don't like giving the story away in my reviews, so go read the blurb to see what it's about

Due to...
Published on 7 Oct 2011 by Joo

versus
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rating is For Adult Readers, add a Star for Kids
I have to admit that I didn't realize this was a children's book when I picked it up, but as a fan of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series (which is definitely not for kids), the book's steampunkish Victorian setting appealed to me. In the early pages, we meet the protagonist, a horribly disfigured young boy who is kept by gypsies as a freak show entertainment. A...
Published on 3 Dec 2009 by A. Ross


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Hunchback Assignments, 7 Oct 2011
By 
Joo "kuforum" (Wales, UK) - See all my reviews
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The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade is my recent foray into the Steampunk genre. The fantastic looking cover caught my eye in the first place.

It's the story of Modo who is taken in as a baby by Mr Socrates who trains him to be his agent. I don't like giving the story away in my reviews, so go read the blurb to see what it's about

Due to mention of orphans at the start and being taken in by a mysterious rich gentleman, I was thinking along the lines of Lemony Snicket, but as it got into the adventure I was picturing the film Young Sherlock Holmes in that they were running around Victorian London.

This book is aimed at the younger market, yet was certainly grown up enough for me. It was a very visual story, I could imagine the look and smells as described.

I will certainly check out more by Arthur Slade. This book is free at the moment and a fantastic introduction to a great writer, so get it quick and start reading.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rating is For Adult Readers, add a Star for Kids, 3 Dec 2009
By 
A. Ross (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
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I have to admit that I didn't realize this was a children's book when I picked it up, but as a fan of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series (which is definitely not for kids), the book's steampunkish Victorian setting appealed to me. In the early pages, we meet the protagonist, a horribly disfigured young boy who is kept by gypsies as a freak show entertainment. A brisk gentleman named Mr. Socrates purchases him, installs him in a country manor, and keeps him there for 13 years, training him in the arts of espionage and in the control of his special ability. For it seems that the young boy (named Modo) has the ability to shift his physical attributes so that he can impersonate others, and thus Mr. Socrates intends to turn him into a secret agent.

The Victorian British Empire of this book has all manner of nefarious enemies that Mr. Socrates and his top-secret "Permanent Association" work to stymie. In this first adventure in what looks to be a series, the villain is a mad scientist intent on creating hybrid mechanical-organic creatures. After being recruited by the mysterious Clockwork Guild (which is dedicated to destroying the British Empire) he sets about using kidnapped orphans to build a massive mechanized robot creature. Meanwhile, the Guild is also trying to use some combination of drug and hypnosis to turn several unwitting prominent men into assassins. Mr. Socrates sends Modo out to try and thwart some of this, along with another young agent named Octavia. They team up and Modo develops a crush on the intelligent, pretty girl.

Once the initial background is established, the story races along pell-mell, with plenty of action, menace, captures and escapes. At times this can make the book feel rather rushed and unfinished, as if there's a layer of descriptive writing missing -- sort of shallow. There is a lot borrowing and referencing of classic genre work here, and at times it can feel like the book is written in shorthand. However, by the end, it seems evident that the Clockwork Guild will be back to fight another day, and that subsequent books will inevitably reveal more about Modo and how he came to have his powers. I suspect most 10-14 year-old readers with a taste for adventure will want to seek out Modo and Octavia's further adventures, but older readers such as myself may find it all a bit too thin.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Steampunk for kids!, 3 Oct 2011
By 
S. Horrigan "Shaun" (London) - See all my reviews
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Rescued by the wealthy and secretive Mr. Socretes from gypsies at the age of one where he was the star attraction in their travelling show, Modo is hideously deformed. But he also has an amazing ability; he can temporarily at least, change his appearance at will. Subsequently taught for 13 years in martial arts, the sciences, the arts, etiquette and acting, Modo is trained to be the perfect secret agent.

Now those skills are being put to the test for the first time as he helps to investigate the Clockwork Guild who are amongst other things kidnapping children and carrying out monstrous experiments on them. Along the way he teams up with Octavia Milkweed, ex-pick pocket and another of Mr. Socretes' young agents.

Taking inspiration from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Sherlock Holmes and others, this is a really enjoyable little yarn. I love books set in Victorian London, whether a factual version or as in this case Steampunk fictional version. The two main characters of the hideously deformed Modo and the beautiful Octavia Milkweed work really well together. The villians are great too, complete with such things as metal hands, steam powered legs and dogs with steel jaws! The story is also well plotted and the ending is nicely balanced.

Kindle presentation is pretty good, but there are a few strange formatting errors here and there, but not enough to spoil the story.

Overall: 5 stars - The Steampunk version of Victorian London is nicely done without being too heavy on technology, the story has enough twists and turns to keep it interesting right to the end, and the blossoming relationship between Modo and Octavia is fun to watch. A good read for kids aged up to around 14 or adults like me who enjoy a good Steampunk tale!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too, 30 Nov 2009
By 
TeensReadToo "Eat. Drink. Read. Be Merrier." (All Over the US & Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Mysterious Mr. Socrates found a one-year-old child in the back of a gypsy cart with the label "L'Enfant du Monstre." Thinking the child was just physically deformed, Mr. Socrates turned to go; however, the toddler called out to him, and when he looked again, a reformation was taking place. This infant was able to change his facial features, so the deformity disappeared for a few moments. Mr. Socrates immediately recognized the value in this ability.

Four short years later, Modo shows advanced intellectual ability. He is able to read, complete complex mathematical equations, and study languages. Mrs. Finchley, a governess, has been hired by Mr. Socrates to care for him and Tharpa, an Indian man, has been retained to teach him combat skills. The only stipulations on Modo's life are that he cannot leave the three rooms that Mr. Socrates has declared as his and that he must concentrate only on studies that will increase his intelligence.

Though he can feel and even see a protrusion on his back, he is not allowed to see himself until at five, when he is given a mirror by Mr. Socrates. Modo is devastated by what he sees. His face, in fact his whole head, is deformed.

When Modo turns fourteen, Mr. Socrates finally allows him out of his rooms. Unfortunately, the journey that Mr. Socrates takes him on is not the gift he had hoped it would be. On the train to London, Mr. Socrates informs him that he will be aiding in the protection of England. His first task is to survive on the London streets without warning or help.

As the story progresses, Modo succeeds in that first task, so Mr. Socrates and a secret society called the Permanent Association send him on more difficult and dangerous assignments. Together with another agent, fifteen-year-old Octavia Milkweed, he undertakes a series of adventures in an effort to save the grandson of the queen.

Slade's gripping tale touches the heart, and readers will root for Modo and Octavia as they show the adults around them that loving others and offering mercy are among the strongest traits people should desire. The most important theme in the book is that physical appearances do not always reflect a person's heart.

Reviewed by: Theresa L. Stowell
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4.0 out of 5 stars worth a read, 6 July 2014
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A decent example of steampunk SF - some engaging characters, good story line with some exciting bits. Bit of an unsatisfying ending, but good up until that point. Worth a read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!, 27 Mar 2014
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Really pulls you in, very well written. A great read before bed, or any other time of day for that matter, 100% would recommend.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Steampunk for older children (10 upwards)., 12 Dec 2013
A fantasy based in a place not unlike victorian England. Quite dark at times the story is a sort of Quasimodo meets Sherlock Holmes and Doctpr Frankenstien. A treat for the imagination.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping from start to finish, 27 Jun 2013
By 
mauvedeity (Birmingham, UK) - See all my reviews
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This absolutely wasn't what I expected at all. It's a damn good story, beautifully written, and with excellent characterisation. I was gripped from start to finish, and I'm planning to continue buying and reading the series. If you're a fan of steampunk, detective stories, or just a really good read, this is for you.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A nice enjoyable fun read, 8 Jun 2013
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See my other reviews on books in the series. I have enjoyed all the books in this series and hope Slade continues to produce them. While I am 36 and I think the books are really aimed at teenage, this is the kind of book I loved to read when i was 14-18. Nice to see an author producing this kind of work for the current teenage generation (and some of us who still like to pretend we are :) )
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3.0 out of 5 stars okay but a bit childish..., 20 Mar 2013
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The first in a series of these steam-punk adventures is okay but no more than that and nowhere near as good as I might have expected from the author of Dust.

Modo is a hard character to like as are his supporting cast and I really am not sure whether I want to read more of his adventures....

Okay, but not great...
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The Hunchback Assignments
The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade (Paperback - 24 Aug 2010)
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