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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero

The Supernatural Enhancements

Neat cover, eh?  I really like the cover, and I really liked the book--which would be a great read for Carl's RIP Challenge this year.  I almost wish I had saved it for the challenge, but once I started reading this one, even knowing how well it would work for RIP, there was no stopping.

A young man in his early twenties, referred to only as A., has inherited an estate from a second cousin twice removed that he has never even heard of.  His companion, Niamh (pronounced Neeve) is an Irish teenager.  She refers to herself as his guardian or protector, which is amusing as she is a tiny thing and mute. 

On discovery of the inheritance, the pair have flown from England to Virginia, and from there they travel to the secluded three story mansion with an unusual history, including the suicide of Ambrose Wells (and 30 years previously of his father) and a legendary ghost that is supposed to occupy the house.

Told through A.'s diary entries, Niamh's notes, letters to Aunt Liza, a dream journal, transcripts of audio recordings, and later video recordings, excerpts from books; the story develops piece by piece as the two young people attempt to settle in the house and solve some of the puzzles they uncover.

Although Niamh snickers at A.s writing style, I love it.  He invents words and has a unique way of describing things that creates fresh and often amusing images.

"Niamh was anacondaing a meatball as big as her head."

"...inside of the quilt in which Niamh wraps herself at nights like a Chinese spring roll."

"...spinning, arms radaring the environment...."

Anyway, there are mysteries inside of mysteries, a missing butler, Gothic elements like ghosts and hidden rooms, a secret society, codes and cryptographers.

The first part of the book is frequently funny and mostly light-hearted, but when A. begins dreaming  (in a way that feels less like nightmares and more like reality), events take a more serious turn.  

There were some elements that I liked less:  the section on codes, for example.  I love reading about codebreakers like those at Bletchley Park who broke the Enigma Code during WWII, but the details of actually breaking codes are too far over my head.  I also never felt completely clear about "the eye."

Nevertheless, this was one of those book that seems to speed along of its own volition, and I was deeply invested in the characters as the tension slowly ratcheted up.  Part of the reason might be that as a reader, I was discovering things through multiple sources, both along with the characters and outside of them as an observer.

This is the first of Cantero's novels in English, but I had such fun with it.  It would be a great read for Carl's RIP challenge!

Read in June; blog post scheduled for July 23, 2014.


Mystery/Paranormal. Aug. 12, 2014.  Print length:  368 pages.


  1. Sounds like a fun read, packed with some mysteries and puzzles, which I like.

    I think the cover is eye-catching (no pun intended). ;)

  2. Ooo! I like the sound of this one! I love it when a book grabs hold of me and I don't want to stop reading.

    I like the format you describe the book being written in. Not every author can pull it off successfully, but I like it when it is done well.

  3. Melody - It really was fun to read! You are right, the cover is "eye-catching" :)

    Wendy - I need to look for more by Cantero while I'm thinking about it! The format worked for me; reading the transcripts of the audio and video tapes was especially interesting.

  4. I do love the cover! This sounds quite good, and the details about codes sound interesting. However, if you felt those details were over your head, they probably weren't explained clearly.

  5. Irene - Covers are important and this one is a winner. As far as codes go, I've read enough about them in an assortment of fact and fiction to know that my mind lacks the mathematical turn to appreciate the complexity. I love reading about them, but not in too much detail! :)

  6. I love the sound of this one - I need to go and find my notebook and write it down (otherwise it goes into the black hole of my brain!)
    Sounds perfect for RIP and it definitely has a very intriguing cover.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Lynn :D

  7. Lynn-- I really liked it; I'm hoping there will be a sequel! The novel brings the plot to a conclusion, but the characters could easily move to another adventure.

  8. Eee, sounds so fun! I love a documentary novel -- is that a thing? It doesn't sound like it's exactly epistolary, but close in a way that I can get strongly behind.

  9. Jenny - :) I started to call it epistolary because of the letters, but since the letters are only a small part of the documents used, it didn't seem appropriate. Your term documentary novel fits! You Neologist, You!

  10. Jen - confession - what a nutter am I? I actually have this on my kindle (off Netgalley) - but just didn't click when I saw the cover!! Will have to get to this very soon.
    Lynn :D

  11. Nice to read a review of this one. I saw the cover image on another site last week and was immediately attracted to it. Sounds like this is one where the book lives up to its cover!

  12. Carl - You are never sure just where you are being led because so much of the novel is in the documents that the protagonists create in "real" time.

  13. I have no doubt I'll be scoping it out in the bookstore.