Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Empire of Ruins: The Hunchback Assignments 3

Empire of Ruins: The Hunchback Assignments 3

Arthur Slade
Fiction  Series
For ages 14 and up
Random House, 2012   ISBN: 978-0375854057

Several months ago Modo completed his second mission as an agent for the Permanent Association. The purpose of this secret organization is to defend “England’s interests.” It took him two months to recover from the wounds and illness that he acquired during this mission, but he is now back on track with his martial arts training and he has been working hard on honing his “adaptive transformation” ability, which allows him to shift his shape and thus change his appearance. Modo is eager to get back to work, but his master, Mr. Socrates, seems to have forgotten about him.

   Then one day, just when he is thinking that he is going to “go batty,” a visitor arrives at the London house where he lives. The visitor is Mrs. Finchley, the women who cared for him when he was little. Mr. Socrates sent her to the house to get Modo ready for the new role that he is to assume. Modo has to be able to look, sound, and behave like a physician, and with Mrs. Finchley’s help he is able to do this.

   Modo then goes to Bedlam asylum to interview one of the residents there. The man, Alexander King, was an explorer who traveled all over the world. King is clearly quite mad, but he does say something to Modo, and Modo makes a point of memorizing his words.

   Later Modo meets up with Mr. Socrates and Octavia, another agent. Modo learns that Octavia was sent to get a map that an Australian brought to London. The man wanted to sell the map to Mr. Socrates. Unfortunately, the Australian was killed by the Clockwork Guild, but Octavia managed to get the map and escape before they could harm her.

   Later, on a ship bound for Australia, Mr. Socrates explains the nature of their mission. The map will show them how to find a temple where a priceless artifact called the God Face is stored. No one knows what the artifact is, but it is said that it is a powerful weapon and Mr. Socrates wants to get it so that England can use it defeat her enemies. Mr. King had the map at one time, which he killed two men to acquire. He used the map to find the temple, which is in Australia, but for some reason he went mad and was sent back to England. The man Octavia met later brought King’s map to London.

   Mr. Socrates is determined to find the temple and the God Face before agents working for the Clockwork Guild can do so. He has a perfect plan for getting to the temple, which is located in the rainforest in Queensland. Mr. Socrates is convinced that he is ahead of the Clockwork Guild agents, but it turns out that he is wrong. Their enemies are waiting for them.

   In this third Hunchback Assignments adventure Arthur Slade tells a story that is gripping and full of unexpected surprises and revelations. Modo makes some painful discoveries about himself and others, and he dares to consider that perhaps Mr. Socrates isn’t always right. Perhaps there are times when Modo needs to make decisions of his own regarding what he does.