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Literature / The Hunchback Assignments

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The Hunchback Assignments are a series of books by Canadian children's and young adult author Arthur Slade. Initially set in Victorian London, the books are young-adult Steampunk spy thrillers, complete with Mad Lib Thriller Title, and starring Modo, the titular teenaged hunchback of the title.

Modo, a deformed hunchback, is a baby in gypsy caravan. He is discovered by Mr. Socrates, a highly-placed British intelligence operative, and raised to be one of Socrates' agents. In addition to teaching him tradecraft, martial arts and a well-rounded classification, Modo's training unlocks his innate shapeshifting ability.

Books in the series so far include:

  • The Hunchback Assignments (2009)
  • The Dark Deeps (2010)
  • Empire of Ruins (2011)
  • Island of Doom (2012)


Tropes appearing in this series include:

  • Action Girl - Captain Monturiol, with Miss Hakkandottir as Dark Action Girl. Octavia and Colette supposedly have combat training, but neither has really displayed any skill thus far.
  • Cool Boat - The Ictineo, but also the wooden submarine Filomena.
  • Cursed With Awesome - Modo was born with a monstrous physical deformity, but with effort and study can twist his physical features to appear as just about anyone (to date he's only appeared as other men).
  • God Guise - Modo is mistaken for the God Face by the Rain People
  • Government Agency of Fiction - The Permanent Association, a top secret cabal of highly-placed Britons dedicated to the preservation of the British Empire.
  • The Grotesque - Modo.
  • Nebulous Evil Organisation - The Clockwork Guild: beyond being a bunch of unethical Mad Scientist types with an army of Mooks and a handful of elite operatives at their command, all that's been revealed so far is their intention to destroy the British Empire.
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  • Steampunk - Including zeppelins, a Nautilus-esque submarine and underwater city, cybernetic limbs, cyborg dogs, and much more taken from the Verne and Wells toybox.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist - Monturiol, a Captain Ersatz for Verne's Nemo, is presented this way, crippling or sinking ships that threaten her egalitarian undersea paradise of Icaria.


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