The Dark Deeps, by Arthur Slade, is a great steampunk adventure appropriate for the new category Ink Spells will be reviewing: young teens ages 12-14. The Dark Deeps is the second book in The Hunchback Assignments series, featuring Modo, a hunchback who can shift his features to serve as a spy for the Permanent Association in defense of Victorian Britain, but has to hide his hideous face from an intolerant world. Modo's age isn't exactly known, having been plucked from a circus freak show as a baby, but he guesses that he is around fourteen. Modo and fellow agent Octavia are sent on another mission by the enigmatic Mr. Socrates, this time separating the duo as Modo travels to the bottom of the sea in search of Ictineo, a mysterious ship that the French and British are racing to find and control. Modo encounters French agent Colette, who reluctantly joins his adventure, and Modo develops an affection rivaling his (well kept secret) feelings for Miss Octavia.
RL: 4.8 CSM: n/a Rating: PG-13 Content: murders are described, but not graphic; pining for the opposite sex, but only one chaste kiss
The first book in the series, The Hunchback Assignments, gets a 12+ rating from CSM, due to the mature themes of children being kidnapped and the subject of evil experiments, as well as the overall violence level. These themes continue in The Dark Deeps, which is why Ink Spells recommends The Dark Deeps for readers ages 12+ as well. Modo's affections for the female heroines of the story are kept undercover, as he is afraid to show them his true face - something that keeps these books chaste, but also heartbreaking. Like many books targeting teens, The Dark Deeps will not challenge advanced readers in terms of reading level. However, the complex interplay of politics, espionage, and steampunk technology is more advanced than that usually found in middle grade books and will appeal to young teens in search of an adventurous read.
Although The Dark Deeps can easily be followed without reading the prior book, The Hunchback Assignments, you wouldn't want to miss any of Modo's adventures. I'm already ready to dive back in. Dark Omen (age 12) loved both books.
The Hunchback Assignments website has more information about the books, as well as videos, podcasts, and study guides.
My advanced readers copy of The Dark Deeps, as well as a copy of The Hunchback Assignments, are part of the Steampunk Prize Pack of Awesome Giveaway - click here to enter. Winner will be announced in Friday's post.
Tomorrow: My review of Behemoth and the winner of the Giveaway!