cover image The Hunchback Assignments

The Hunchback Assignments

Arthur Slade, Author . Random/Lamb $15.99 (278p) ISBN 978-0-385-73784-5

Calling to mind elements of The Hunchback of Notre Dame , The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Frankenstein , Slade (Jolted: Newton Starker's Rules for Survival ) presents a thrilling tale of an unusual and talented young man caught between two idealistic, ruthless organizations. Fourteen-year-old hunchback Modo has been raised from infancy by Mr. Socrates to use his shape-shifting abilities in service to the Permanent Association, secretive defenders of the status quo in Slade's steampunk Victorian England. Opposing the Permanent Association is the Clockwork Guild, whose hubristic ambitions are untempered by mercy or decency. Together with fellow agent Octavia Milkweed, Modo must discover why the guild is kidnapping and brainwashing—or worse—children and the scions of the upper class. Although Modo is too innocent to truly understand his situation, Slade makes it clear that Mr. Socrates' exploitation of the teenage agents undermines their effectiveness and mirrors the willingness of the guild to treat people as tools. With its self-loathing hero and exploration of themes of identity and self, the novel is more than the straightforward adventure it may appear. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)