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The Supernatural Enhancements

by Edgar Cantero

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5894334,857 (3.71)14
"When twentysomething A., the European relative of the Wells family, inherits a beautiful yet eerie estate set deep in the woods of Point Bless, Virginia, it comes as a surprise to everyone--including A. himself. After all, he never knew he had a 'second cousin, twice removed' in America, much less that his eccentric relative 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"--Amazon.com.… (more)
  1. 10
    S. by Doug Dorst (darsaster)
  2. 10
    Night Film by Marisha Pessl (dizzyweasel)
    dizzyweasel: Ephemera, found footage, photos, scripts add to the narrative to unfold the mystery.

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English (40)  Spanish (1)  All languages (41)
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
I discovered Cantero's writing when I came across a previous transformative work of their's -- _Meddling Kids_ which did such a fabulous job of combining the tropes of teenage investigators and Cthulu type mythos. So, once I read the premise of this book, I was very excited to read. Good choice it was.

This is a very very well done transformation of a particular set of horror tropes -- the protagonist who inherits the creepy house from the unknown relative, the weirdly secretive group who meet once a year and do Very Strange Things, the hints at esoteric and powerful knowledge.

So clever, so weird, so completely incomprehesible. very found footage creepy. loved it. The stylistic choice to work in combination of found writing with actual narration works really well. ( )
  fred_mouse | Feb 20, 2022 |
Such confusion! Obviously, this is a compelling book, given that I read it in about a day. And it's got super sweet cover art. But, the first third of the book and the other two-thirds are only connected in the loosest sort of way, and then the epilogue comes in and changes the state of play again. It's like a Gothic, cozy mystery, supernatural thriller mash-up with a smattering of haunted house. It's weird, and I like it okay, but I'm not sure that I trust it (because it feels like a set up, and I'm guessing this is the first in a series).

So, things to be aware of. 1) This is sort of a proto-epistolary novel. It's told through letters and diaries and video cameras and digital recorders. 2) It's set in the 90s for some inexplicable reason, and there is a lot of mention of 'The X-Files." 3) There are great swaths of information in here that you can just skip, like all of the cryptography stuff, and the academic paper/book extracts; the characters always neatly summarize everything for you. 4) There's one truly amazing character in this novel, and she's a mute, punk, Irish kid, and I love her.

This book really feels similar to Marisha Pessl's 'Night Film' except less creepy. And even though this book isn't my favorite, I know there are a lot of people who will love it. ( )
  JessicaReadsThings | Dec 2, 2021 |
Well, I liked the beginning but it went in a completely different direction than I was thinking. Many questions were left unanswered. A sequel would be great. ( )
  _Marcia_94_ | Sep 21, 2021 |
I really tried with this one. Got to within 80 pages of the end, and just had to throw it down. I'm done. I've been beating my head against this book for more than two weeks.

I wanted to like it, because I did enjoy the heck out of Meddling Kids, but less so the follow up, This Body's Not Big Enough For Both Of Us, which was just far too over the top and cartoonish.

So, when I started this one, it seemed to be everything that last book was not. Not cartoonish, not over the top. So I figured I'd love it.

But it just seems to drone on and on and on, with very little payoff. But when Cantero took us through a very detailed explanation of a coded passage and how it was solved, it read like a frigging instruction manual. There was no attempt to make it interesting or entertaining whatsoever.

I'm out.
  TobinElliott | Sep 3, 2021 |
I am indeed writing from Axton House, about to turn in for the very first night; Niamh and I share a bed big enough for each of us to throw an orgy without her guests disturbing mine. Glew gave us a tour around the house this evening, but we haven't really seen it. Not in the way you meant that day, when you said that a passenger on a ship doesn't see the ropes the way a sailor sees them. Having seen the house would mean being able to go around it and predict which room awaits behind each double door. Having seen the house would mean to understand the use of each room and each piece of furniture. We haven't seen the house. We have merely perceived a circular sequence of empty halls, large windows, fireplaces, chandeliers, spiderwebs, canopies, and a cluttered desk on every floor. (...)

I don't think I'd be able to find any of those rooms right now if my life depended on it. In fact, I wouldn't dare go to sleep had Niamh not laid a trail of chickpeas to the nearest bathroom.

No trace of ghosts so far, but we'll stay alert.

Tomorrow morning I plan to start socializing around. We also have to find the missing butler, Strückner. Niamh and I agree it's not a good name for a butler.

- from A.'s November 4, 1995 letter to Aunt Liza

This is one of those books I wish I could look at with different eyes before recommending it to anybody. Because epistolic narrative through miscellaneous documents plus essentially nameless co-main character (initialled only as A.) plus haunted house story plus treasure hunt plus a splash of philosophy equals Amy reads this and, if it's well done, flipping LOVES it. (And it was well done! And I did love it! Hooray!)

There are plenty of elements here that could be very annoying depending on your pet peeves list, and a couple of seams show (such as a slight lack of familiarity with certain American legal issues), and it has one of those wonderful endings that, let's say, leave more questions than answers (sequel, please!). But taken together, the whole thing just works, and it is pure, gleeful fun. I definitely do recommend it. ( )
  amyotheramy | May 11, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
The Medium is the Message.

If you are looking for a gothic ghost story, look somewhere else. The Supernatural Enhancements, by Edgar Cantero is a lot of things, but it certainly isn’t a simple story plainly told. It starts out looking like a haunted house story, and slowly but surely morphs into...something else. As a dedicated reviewer I can only tell you so much, but trust me on this; if you take your time, and read carefully this book will grow and change into something quite surprising. One of the things that takes getting used to is the way that the story itself is told; through a series of journal entries, ciphers, letters, and even found video footage.

A, a twenty-something European inherits, from unknown and distant American relatives, inherits a beautiful but eerie estate in the woods of Virginia. He soon discovers that the relative killed himself the same way and at the same age as his father did. So A, along with Niamh, his mute teenage punk companion, start investigating the history of Axton House, expecting to find it haunted.

There are ghosts, but that is the least of the mysteries that they discover. One of Mr. Cantero’s clever strategies is the way he toys with the cliches of the genre; Axton House has a creepy garden maze, a forbidding basement chamber, and a missing butler who may have the key to unlocking all of these questions. The only thing missing was a crumbling tower and some wasted moors.

What’s more the reason behind the idiosyncratic style become evident, and after a while I stopped noticing the novel’s techniques, and started to enjoy the story. The characters are strong and vivid, particularly Niamh, who is wonderful. My hat is off to Mr. Cantero for managing to bring a character so vividly to life through nothing more than notes passed between her and A. Even A became more than just a narrator after a while. Before long I was enjoying the investigation into a mystic, society that used Axton house for their secret meetings. I am a fan of cryptography, but the ciphers were a bit much, and I admit that I had to skim a bit here and there. No harm, though.

As I said this book requires some patience; the pace is deliberate, and I found myself flipping back quite a bit to properly appreciate how some of the plot turns were set up. There are very few big gosh-wow! moments, and a lack of shocking scenes. A and Niamh are a little too hip, and Mr. Cantero is a bit too smart for that. Their reactions to what’s going on around them is classic post-modern hipster, and it’s quite refreshing.

All of this is part of a plan, and I really wish that I could reveal it, but I abhor spoilers. While the final revelations make sense I thought that they came a little later than I would have liked, so the end feels a bit rushed compared to the rest of the novel, and the climax felt a bit out of place, but I still enjoyed this unusual take on a classic tale, and I commend Mr. Cantero for his bold choices. Now I want you to do the same, and read The Supernatural Enhancements.

Review by: Mark Palm
Full Reviews Available at: http://www.thebookendfamily.weebly.co...
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The following collection of documents details the events that occurred at Axton House, 1 Axton Road, Point Bless, Virginia, during the months of November and December of 1995.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"When twentysomething A., the European relative of the Wells family, inherits a beautiful yet eerie estate set deep in the woods of Point Bless, Virginia, it comes as a surprise to everyone--including A. himself. After all, he never knew he had a 'second cousin, twice removed' in America, much less that his eccentric relative 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"--Amazon.com.

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Haiku summary
The Blair Witch Project
meets Edgar Allan Poe meets
The X-Files. All clear?

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Average: (3.71)
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