The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero (book review).

January 26, 2015 | By | Reply More

The mysteriously named A has just inherited a creepy old mansion from a distant relative, so along with his mute friend, Niamh, he packs his things and moves from the UK to the USA. The house is filled with mysterious items, hidden passages and all the work of A’s scholarly relative, Ambrose Wells. It’s unclear exactly what kind of research Ambrose was undertaking, but A and Niamh soon begin to think that it was something not entirely natural. As Ambrose’s friends start sending cryptic messages to the house and A begins to have disturbingly realistic dreams, A and Niamh realise they need to figure out exactly what is going on before the house claims yet another victim.

SupernaturalEnhancements

‘The Supernatural Enhancements’ is a ghostly adventure story from Spanish author Edgar Cantero. With the traditional elements of the spooky and secluded old house, secret identities, a whole host of cryptic clues and, of course, one or two ghostly manifestations, you might be forgiven for thinking that this book wasn’t going to bring anything new to the table. However, it’s certainly got one or two new tricks up its sleeves.

As in many of Kafka’s enigmatic works, Cantero refers to the main character only with his initial, A, so he is immediately a mystery to the reader. Why don’t we know who he is? What does he have to hide? There are questions right from the beginning with regard to our unnamed protagonist and many of these remain unanswered. His companion Niamh is a little more clearly defined, though as a mute punky teenager she’s far from the ordinary characters you might expect to crop up in a gothic tale like this one. She’s a quirky character, maybe a little hard to relate to at first, but she really does grow on you as the novel progresses. Because she is mute, Niamh communicates mostly through handwritten notes and these form part of the unusual format of ‘The Supernatural Enhancements’.

You see, it isn’t written as a single continuous story through one long piece of prose, but rather is told through a series of letters, video transcripts, diary entries and handwritten notes. The epistolary novel isn’t something that I generally find particularly rewarding because of its fragmented nature but, in this case, I’ll make an exception. The style works really well in feeding you little bits of information at a time and helps to keep certain aspects a mystery until very late on in the book. At the same time, it never felt like the book lacked depth, with everything being revealed at exactly the right pace to take you to the next level just when you thought you had everything figured out. It was very cleverly done really.

I loved the cryptic clues that kept being dropped throughout the book, it was rewarding trying to figure things out along with the characters. This is a book for those of you who like puzzling things out and enjoy a good treasure hunt. It’s hard to say much more about the plot without revealing things and, for me, it was the ongoing series of revelations that really made this enjoyable. There are plenty of them to keep you on your toes and if you can predict the ending then I take my hat off to you as I did not see it coming at all!

‘The Supernatural Enhancements’ is a spooky treasure hunt in a haunted house filled with secrets and visited by people who are certainly out of the ordinary. It’s a fairly quick read, but would make an excellent companion on a night-time train journey or a stormy afternoon. I look forward to seeing more from Edgar Cantero, although I think this is currently his only novel available and originally written in English.

Vinca Russell

January 2015

(pub: Del Rey/Ebury Publishing/Random House. 355 page lightly illustrated hardback. Price: £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-091956-46-2)

check out website: www.delreyuk.com

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Category: Books, Horror

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