The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade

Modo owes everything to Mr. Socrates. He was the one who rescued him from the freak show as a small child, taught him what he was capable of, taught him how to defend himself, and think for himself. Mr. Socrates educated him, trained him...and then, left him, on the streets of London to fend for himself? His final test, it seems, is to survive on his own. Mr. Socrates promises to find him when the time is right...

Modo's most distinguishing features are his hideously distorted face and hunchback. Not exactly the kind of thing you expect people to see beyond, unless you also have Modo's unique ability: to morph into whatever or whomever he desires. His disability need not prevent him from being a member of society, except that the shape-shifting has a limited window of time in which to work.

After he is dumped in London, he establishes himself in a small apartment and does odd detective work for a fee. No one sees his face during their interactions, and he primarily travels by rooftop. What better way to explore London without unnecessary distractions or traffic? One day, a beautiful woman (by the sound of it) inquires about some changes that have come over her brother since joining a scientific society.

Modo makes a visit to this society to inquire about the nature of its membership, and is greeted with less than friendly results. In fact, he gets beaten up by a man with what seems to be a metal arm! After imprisoning him, and setting the building alight, Modo manages to escape and track down this "sister."

Tavia may not be anyone's sister, but she does happen to also be working for Mr. Socrates. After being reunited, Modo is informed of the treacherous nature of the society they are going up against. The Clockwork Guild, as they are known, are working with a Dr. Hyde who is known for his experiments with animal hybridism. The exact nature of their scheme is still unclear, however there are several incidents which lead to the conclusion that they are "up to no good."

Very well written, it's just enough Dr. Jekell and Mr. Hyde meets The Hunchback of Notre Dame for audiences to feel familiar with the characters, but enough of a departure to be fresh.
"Steam geysered out the seams of the giant's clothing. He swung his massive arm again and Modo caught hold of it. Fuhr slammed him up against the wall. Modo wrenched himself away, ripping the sleeve from Fuhr's jacket. Modo's jaw dropped. The arm was made of metal! Pistons pushed back and forth between steel bones, the steam pumping out of holes in narrow iron plates. Fuhr swung yet again, Modo ducked and the man's fist pounded a hole in the wall. Modo shuddered: What such a blow would do to his skull!" (Slade pg. 75, 2009).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
The Dark Deeps: Hunchback Assignments #2 by Arthur Slade
The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
Soulless by Gail Carriger

Slade, Arthur. (2009). The Hunchback Assignments. New York, NY: Wendy Lamb Books.

No comments:

Post a Comment