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The Supernatural Enhancements

by Edgar Cantero

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6704334,339 (3.67)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
    Night Film by Marisha Pessl (dizzyweasel)
    dizzyweasel: Ephemera, found footage, photos, scripts add to the narrative to unfold the mystery.
  2. 10
    S. by Doug Dorst (darsaster)
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Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
Actual Rating: 3.50 / 3.75.
The first half of my review is spoiler free, but the second half (clearly labeled) contains spoilers!

So here's the thing: "The Supernatural Enhancements" is a good book. A REALLY good book, in fact. I picked this up looking for something spooky, autumnal, and fresh, and this book provided all of that! The characters are quirky and interesting; the plot grabbed (and held) my attention thoroughly; the format is super cool- the story is told through audio recording transcripts, a diary, book excerpts, and more. There's even some "X-Files" references (did you hear that? That's the sound of me falling in love with Edgar Cantero).

The thing that really made me feel not-good thoughts about "The Supernatural Enhancements" was actually two things:
One- The ENDING?? I'm still a bit confused. I'm going to detail this confusion a bit more at the end of this review in a "spoilers" paragraph, but right now I'll just say that about the last 50 pages or so really starting spiraling out of my reading grasp a bit. I understand about 75% of what happened...but...that last 25% made me go, "HUH?!?" Also, I think the ghost part of the book was a bit lost in the fray. I wanted more closure with that.

Two- The book excerpts/ciphers. Okay, actually, the excerpts/ciphers were pretty cool... in MODERATION. This book contains excerpts from other "books" (all fictional books, I believe) that are part of the main character's research. But some of the excerpts were (s0rry!) boring. With a capital "B". It was mostly the ones later in the novel, but I felt like Cantero was replacing too much actual dialouge and characters interaction with these excerpts. Then there was the cipher. Oh my gosh, was it COOL...but it was again, difficult to follow at times! When A is cracking the main cipher, I really tried to learn along with him, but I felt as if I needed to take notes to even grasp it! I think this aspect would have been better executed if Cantero had used more "laymans" terms, or used a different way to explain how to crack the code.

So overall, it was a good book, and I think I'd even read this one again. I really enjoyed the mix of supernatual, cult, and Scooby-Doo-ish themes!
I'd highly recommend this as a Halloween read, too.

SPOILERS BELOW!!!

The ending: Okay. Wait. Who exactly is Betty?? Their aunt?? How old is she? What is Betty's connection to the Juggernaut again? Is Aunt Liza ANOTHER cult leader? Wait, she's connected to the Eye, too?!? WHAT? Can someone please explain the whole Betty thing to me??
This part confused me, and I feel a bit cheated. Like there was a cipher right in front of me, but Cantero refused to give me any bit of clues to work on decoding it!
Also, the murders that happen the night of the 21st and the ensuing chaos was, well, chaotic! I had some real difficulty following what was happening.

Lastly, I think there were FAR too many names to remember! There are 20 Eye members (and their respective code names!), the neighboors, the townsfolk, the lawyer, the psychatrist, the snowplow driver, the butler, and ALL THE PEOPLE IN THE DREAMS (granted, the latter didn't actually have names, but there were SO many of them!).
I kept confusing Caleb and Curtis. I didn't remember who the butler was until someone said their name AND the word "butler". I also forgot who the lawyer was when he showed up at the end and had to flip back in the book to find his name again. ( )
  deborahee | Feb 23, 2024 |
A compelling story about a secret society that meets once a year in a haunted house. This novel lags a bit in the middle, but then revs up quickly to a climactic finish with a twist that I didn't see coming. ( )
  LynnMPK | Jun 30, 2023 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 41 (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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Book description
Haiku summary
The Blair Witch Project
meets Edgar Allan Poe meets
The X-Files. All clear?
(passion4reading)

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