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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

The Hunchback Assignments: The Dark Deeps

Author: Arthur Slade
Originally Published: 2010
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Purchased

The Story

In the second installment of Arthur Slade’s Hunchback Assignments series, we get a steampunk story that has been greatly inspired by both Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man.

Modo and Octavia are investigating why ships are disappearing in the middle of the ocean just south of Iceland, and when the boat that they’ve hired gets hit mysteriously, Modo is thrown overboard. Taken aboard the Ictineo, a huge submarine that is used to defend a secret underwater society, Modo soon meets the lovely Colette (a French spy), who was also investigating the disappearing ships before her own capture by the captain of the Ictineo. The two spies soon form an allegiance, vowing to work together to get off the submarine.

Things get more complicated when an invisible spy from evil The Clockwork Guild announces his own presence on the submarine as well, and Modo must decide who to believe and trust in order to get back to the surface alive and report all of his findings to the spy network he works for.

The Response

This WAS supposed to be a co-review with Rachel, but she’s flying to Austria right now, and will be there for two whole weeks! And I can’t wait that long to gush.

I found that The Dark Deeps was so much more enjoyable than the first book in the series – not entirely sure why, though. Maybe I knew a little more what to expect, maybe because I was already loving Modo and Octavia (though there wasn’t nearly enough of her in this installment!), maybe because it was more what I would expect from Slade than the first one was. Maybe a bit of all of that.

What I can say for certain is that I got through it way too fast, and I want more. Now.

When we went to see Slade, this was the book he was promoting on tour. And it gave me a huge appreciation for all of the research he did for this book – especially when it came to submarines. He read completely obscure books about submarines, and since most of this book takes place while Modo is on the submarine, you can definitely see where he was inspired by it. You could practically feel yourself living on that submarine, the way he described it.

And then there was the Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and The Invisible Man stuff. I’ve never read Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, but I HAVE read The Invisible Man, and the similarities between the main character in that and the invisible man in The Dark Deeps – even down to the fact that the character has the same name (Griffin) and same sense of rage in both books. And there was so much depth to Griffin in The Dark Deeps – yes, there was so much rage, but he was totally just looking for approval from the one who made him invisible.

And in that way, he really echoed Modo – both are orphans; both were molded by the person who took them in, so they could work best for the secret society they work for; both work oh-so-hard just to get approval from the person who took them in. Only difference is that Modo, deep down, has a good heart, but Griffin doesn’t seem to. But if Griffin was raised by someone like Mr. Socrates, instead of the red-haired chick (cannot remember her name!) from the Clockwork Guild, would he still have had all that rage in him?

The only thing that I really didn’t like about this novel was the lack of Octavia. Yes, Colette was pretty darn awesome, but Octavia! Love Octavia so much, she’s so spunky and so much fun, and she LOVES Modo so much, even if she doesn’t even know it yet!

The Bottom Line

Those who liked the first book in the series, will definitely like this one; likewise, those who didn’t like the first book in the series wouldn’t like this installment. Those who haven’t read them yet, should definitely read the first one before picking up The Dark Deeps. Me? I can’t wait until the next one. Can’t wait to see what classics he tackles in that one.

Other Reviews

Have you reviewed this book on your blog? Let me know and I’ll add your link.

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 5:52 pm June 27, 2010.
Category: Young Adult
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  • Kailana

    Aw, too bad I just found out now that Rachel is off on adventures. I read this book, too, of course, and haven’t reviewed it yet!

  • rachel

    OMG! this book. I forgot about this book. We were supposed to write about this book together.