What begins as a clever, gothic ghost story soon evolves into a wickedly twisted treasure hunt in The Supernatural Enhancements, Edgar Cantero’s wholly original, modern-day adventure.
When twenty something A., the unexpected European relative of the Wells family, and his companion, Niamh, a mute teenage girl with shockingly dyed hair, inherit the beautiful but eerie estate of Axton House, deep in the woods of Point Bless, Virginia, it comes as a surprise to everyone—including A. himself. After all, he never even knew he had a “second cousin, twice removed” in America, much less that the eccentric gentleman had recently committed suicide by jumping out of the third floor bedroom window—at the same age and in the same way as his father had before him . . .
Together, A. and Niamh quickly come to feel as if they have inherited much more than just a rambling home and a cushy lifestyle. Axton House is haunted, they know it, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the secrets they slowly but surely uncover. Why all the suicides? What became of the Axton House butler who fled shortly after his master died? What lurks in the garden maze and what does the basement vault keep? And what of the rumors in town about a mysterious gathering at Axton House on the night of the winter solstice?
Told vividly through a series of journal entries, scrawled notes, recovered security footage, letters to Aunt Liza, audio recordings, complicated ciphers, and even advertisements, Edgar Cantero has written a dazzling and original supernatural adventure featuring classic horror elements with a Neil Gaiman-ish twist.
I picked up this book after the awesome cover caught my eye at the library. The blurb inside that spoke of ghosts and mysterious societies paired with the multimedia format sold me. However, when I got around to reading it I felt rather cheated.
The assortment of letters, notes, video footage, journals and codes (which I enjoyed attempting to solve) is well done and is the best part of the book. It is well written, fun to read and I love books that seek alternative ways to tell stories. However, I’m not sure that the format really works with the story being told here. This kind of very distanced narration works well for a story where it reads like a compiled case file on a specific event. Which is what The Supernatural Enhancements appears to do, but really doesn’t. Instead of focusing solely on the events that take place, the focus is more placed on the character’s lives, yet due to the distance you can’t really connect with them either. And I’m not really sure what story the book was even telling.
It starts off as a haunted house story with a mystery, but soon does a 180 and turns into a weird sci fi story. The kind I am not a fan of. It’s the kind of weirdness that’s in A Wrinkle in Time, a book which I have never liked. Up to this point, I’m willing to say that its me, not the book. But, the problem is twofold. First this turnabout came out of nowhere, probably due to the distance the style of narration created, but nonetheless, this was not a plot twist that logically followed from events in the plot. Rather, the entire story takes an unexpected turn. And the creepy atmosphere, which I was enjoying, from the first half of the book is lost. Second, it was not all explained. I was willing to except the weirdness (even if I wasn’t going to like it) if only some explanation was provided. I can’t just accept that something that crazy without a reason to. And this isn’t the only part of the plot that isn’t explained or makes no sense either.
I guess I’m just disappointed because I was looking forward to reading a Gothic mystery which would have really lent itself to the multimedia format. If I’d have found out I was mistaken early in it wouldn’t have been so bad either, but I was enjoying the book until it all began to go downhill.
I won’t say its a bad book, just that it really wasn’t for me. So hopefully you’ll enjoy it more than I did if you decide to read it.