“The Hunchback Assignments” by Arthur Slade

“The Hunchback Assignments”

By Arthur Slade

4**** = Can recommend; Great; Overall enjoyable

I had two plans for this weekend: read and watch the Broncos vs. Patriots game. Not at the same time of course. I wouldn’t do that.

However, three minutes into the third quarter, this is what happened.

I started to read. The game was just too painful.

I’m not ready to talk about it. Let me just say that TEBOW HAD NO PROTECTION FROM HIS OFFENSIVE LINE! There. I’m feeling better already.

The good news is that I finished my book, and unlike the Broncos defense, it was solid. (I’m done now. Promise.)

I picked up “The Hunchback Assignments” by Arthur Slade randomly last week at the library. I was bored and feeling risky.

The book is loosely, and I mean loosely based on “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” by Victor Hugo. Okay, so I haven’t exactly read Hugo’s classic, but I did read the Wikipedia synopsis, and I have seen the Disney movie. So, I’m basically an expert now.

The book is set in late 1800s England and follows Modo – a shape-shifting hunchback who is raised in seclusion until he’s 14. At that point, Modo enters London and begins investigating several disappearances of prominent members of society.

Slade writes some pretty intriguing characters. I love Modo. My heart breaks for Modo as he tries to accept his deformity and earn the love of the mysterious Mr. Socrates, the man who adopted him as an infant and coldly raised him to be his agent. There also is Octavia Milkweek, another young agent who accompanies Modo on much of his investigation, but is kept from his true identity due to his shape-shifting abilities. I’m sure you can see the potential of a complicated romance brewing.

And then there’s Tharpa and Mrs. Finchley, the only two people who have truly accepted Modo as he is. Oh, and there are some pretty gnarly villains too.

The book is easy to read and moves quickly through the plot. I love that. It doesn’t feel like a single page is wasted.

“The Hunchback Assignments” is only book one of three, and there’s much to be determined in ensuing books. I’m hoping Slade will reveal even more about his mysterious characters, particularly Mr. Socrates and the villains, Miss Hakkandottir and Dr. Hyde who seem to value scientific advancement at the expense of human life.

I’m pretty anxious to pick up book two from the library. I actually was going to get it today after church, but I’m snowed in. And when I say snowed in, I mean there’s maybe an inch of fresh snow on the ground. Welcome to Washington.


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