The Supernatural Enhancements
Review by: Mark Palm
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.
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.