The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade

This book has been in the library for some time, but the cover turned me off. I should have known better since I loved Dust, one of Arthur Slade’s earlier works. It‘s my increasing fascination for steam punk that made me decide to give this book a try.
I was not disappointed.
Rumors of an extraordinary creature sent Mr. Socrates to a Gypsy freak show where he discovered a malformed, grotesque infant inside a cage. Disappointed, he was turning to leave when the child managed to shape shift his features to make himself look less hideous.
Mr. Socrates purchased the child and brought him to England were he was raised to be a secret agent. Two caretakers, his nanny, Mrs. Finchley, and Tharpa, his martial arts instructor, accepted him as he is. By the age of 14 Modo, can transform his body and facial features for periods of time.
He is tested by being dropped of in the center of London with nothing but the clothes on his back. It is the first time Modo has been out of his house, never mind such a large city, yet he survived and created employment for himself as a finder.
Then a young woman asks him to find out what her brother is up to when he goes out at night. Modo follows the young man to a house but in his attempt to infiltrate the group, is exposed. Following a brief encounter with strange steam powered super men and the evil Miss Hakkandottir and her robotic hand, he is chained to a wall and left to die in a burning building.
He barely escapes and manages to make it back to his room. When he tracks down the young woman who sent him on the quest it turns out that she is also one of Mr. Socrates secret agents.
Octvia and Modo are caught up in the middle of a struggle between Mr. Socrates and his Permanent Association, and The Clockwork Guild run by Mrs. Hakkandottir and an evil genius scientist, Dr Hyde.
Children all over London have gone missing - kidnapped by Dr. Hyde to be used as experiments for his nefarious purposes.
Then Mr. Socrates and Tharper go missing and it is left for the two children to save the day.

I was drawn into the book from the first  because of the air of mystery. What I ended up really enjoying was how well Modo and Octavia are developed as characters. I also loved the adventure, the suspense, and of course the hint of romance.

Can’t wait to get my hands on The Dark Deep, the next one in the series.

If you want to find out more, check out the website where you can read and or listen to parts of the book and or watch videos.

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