Thursday, October 8, 2009

Enchanting Review: The Hunchback Assignments

YA Steampunk
Wendy Lamb Books
ISBN# 978-0385737845
288 Pages
Hardcover—Available Now

Rating: 4 Enchantments

Mr. Socrates saved infant, Modo, from the traveling road show he was the star of. Hidden in a cage in the back of a carriage, his small body hunched, his face 'blessed' with the ability to morph into whatever it seemed he wanted. But his regular face, his true self, is so hideous that he must hide it behind a mask he receives as a child. As Modo grows older, Mr. Socrates has him practice morphing his facial features, until he can replicate the look of someone else for hours on end, all the while schooling him in other subjects that a normal child wouldn't normally learn.

Modo was a very likeable and sympathetic character. Forced to suddenly fend for himself on the streets of London, he has to use the lessons he's learned in the past at the hands of Mr. Socrates, as well as his caregiver and his fighting teacher, unsure of when he might see the mysterious Mr. Socrates again. What he does is pretty ingenious, turning himself into a detective, specializing in finding missing objects. This way he sticks to the night, makes what he considers good money and allows himself to hide from the world...until the beautiful Octavia appears at his door, asking him to find her brother, something that pulls him into an adventure he'd never imagine and put him back in contact with Socrates. I liked his relationship with Octavia, a character as mysterious as Mr. Socrates, and I found myself wondering how close her past resembles Modo's. Mr. Socrates himself was very mysterious. You have to wonder what's ahead for Modo and Octavia, and if Mr. Socrates is a totally good guy or is there something he's hiding from his young charges. I'm really looking forward to reading the next book to get some questions answered. I'm sure more interesting characters wait. Mixed with a good dose of adventure, a bit of humour and lots of memorable scenes, THE HUNCHBACK ASSIGNMENTS is a memorable read.

Arthur Slade has published several novels for young readers, including Jolted: Newton Starker’s Rules for Survival, Megiddo’s Shadow, Tribes, and Dust, which won the Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature. He lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, with his wife, Brenda Baker. Visit him on the Web at

Enchanting Reviews
September 2009

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