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The Supernatural Enhancements

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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 twentysomething 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.

353 pages, Hardcover

First published August 12, 2014

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About the author

Edgar Cantero

7 books1,430 followers
Updates & more here!

Edgar is a writer and cartoonist from Barcelona. Once a promising author in the local scene with his awarded 2007 debut Dormir amb Winona Ryder, the highbrow Catalan literary tradition soon lost influence on him in favor of Hollywood blockbusters, videogames, and mass-market paperbacks. The punk dystopian thriller Vallvi (2011) was his last book in Catalan before switching to English with a paranormal thriller, The Supernatural Enhancements (2014). Later, the Enid Blyton-meets-Lovecraft horror-comedy mashup Meddling Kids (2017) became a New York Times bestseller. It was followed by the noir spoof This Body's Not Big Enough for Both of Us (2018), starring the chimeric investigator(s) A.Z. Kimrean.

Spanning three languages, Edgar's material ranges from short stories to screenplays and often features women kissing, stuff exploding, and ill-timed jokes.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,329 reviews
Profile Image for karen.
3,978 reviews170k followers
October 19, 2020
this book is so fun. so, so fun.

laid out in bullet points, this book contains many elements that are potential annoyance-triggers for me, but it somehow managed to execute a neat little sidestep-sashay, and turned what could have been an eyeroll from me into a delighted swoon.

pretend these are bullet points, and not dashes.

- gimmicky layout. the story is told through diary entries, letters, video footage, dream journals, excerpts from academic journals, and other bits of ephemera, and starts with this declaration:

The following collection of documents details the events that occurred at Axon House, 1 Axton Road, Point Bless, Virginia, during the months of November and December 1995.

The footnotes are the editor's only contribution. The first page is missing.

- the female protagonist is a mute, irish, punk rock teenager who leaves out the verb "to be" in her (written) conversation.

- there is a dog. named "help."

- there is a ghost

this is just begging me to call "quirky manic pixie dream girl po-mo wannabe hipster kitchen sink bullshit!" on its ass, but i can't. because i was utterly charmed. this isn't some lisbeth salander alienating fantasy girl character; niamh is a spunky little thing, yes, but she's also incredibly endearing, and a real, developed character instead of just a collage of unusual attributes for the male protag to bounce off of. and help's name is fitting within the context of the story.

as for the layout, it felt entirely appropriate to me, and the bits and pieces contributed to the narrative in a wholly appropriately-structured way, in a similar fashion to Night Film.

it's still a tough sell, because at the end of the day it is basically a haunted house story. a gimmicky haunted house story full of cryptography, puzzles, and wordplay, which would call to mind House of Leaves, but unlike House of Leaves, it doesn't use its gimmicks as a crutch, and they aren't "hey, you will need a mirror to read this chapter!" or "time to rotate the book! isn't this a fun and unusual thing i am making you do to make sure you remember that you are an active participant in this game we call reading?? whe!"

it is, instead, a very charming gimmicky haunted house story, and the gimmicks are fun and playful and not bleak and distancing like House of Leaves. it's an engaging adventure book which could be friends with Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore or The Shadow of the Wind, one that scoops you up, promises you a fun time, and actually delivers on its promise. it's a little bit gothic novel, a little bit treasure hunt adventure, a little bit dreamscape fantasy, with shades of the traditional victorian orphan-narrative, and a little secret society codex drama. and that ghost.

and the secret magic of books

...I've noticed all manuscripts are bad; any book randomly opened in a friend's house is good; the same book in a bookstore is bad. When this story is completed, that beginning will turn better.

fun fun fun. great cover, great book - i am a million percent in love.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Mohammed Arabey.
709 reviews5,618 followers
December 27, 2017
أولا : لا تحكم علي الكتاب من غلافه
نصيحة لا أعمل بها كثيرا..فالغلاف، أه من الغلاف هو السبب الوحيد لشرائي تلك الرواية

مَن مِن عشاق الرعب يري بيتا كهذا, ويختار تجاهله ولايدخله بالاخص لو علم انه مسكونا؟
ولكن هل هي قصة أشباح؟ أم أن للعين هذه دورا ماسونيا؟ وما علاقة الرواية بأكس فايلز؟

بل ماعلاقة الكتاب بالبحث عن الكنوز؟ الأحلام؟ الشفرات؟ هل ما علي الغلاف عينا حقا؟
في الثاني من نوفمبر : وصلنا ريتشموند

في الثالث : قابلنا المحامي جليو

في الرابع من نوفمبر:
قاد بنا في سيارته المرسيدس لبيتنا الجديد..ثم انحرف في طريق جانبي عن الرئيسي غير ممهد..فاستبدلت الحقول بغابة كأنها كانت حديقة في وقت ما صارت مهملة
واخيرا توقفنا امام مبني يليق باحترام الساحة الواسعة له التي يتوسطها

هكذا كُتب علي الغلاف الخلفي ...ولأستكمال التفاصيل الصغيرة الغريبة لأختياري لتلك الرواية, دخلت مع البطل وقريبته المراهقة البكماء -وليست صماء- بيت أكستون في الرابع من نوفمبر
والذي ورثه من قريب له من بعيد يكاد الا يعرفه من قبل والذي توفي في ظروف غامضة
لتتوالي علينا الأحداث الغامضة الكئيبة المثيرة والتي قد تكون مملة احيانا

وحيث لا شئ علي الأطلاق كما يبدو عليه في البداية

هل هي قصة بيت مسكونا بالأشباح؟ هي هي قصة جماعة ماسونية غريبة؟ هل كما يقول الغلاف الخلفي قصة بيت مسكون ستتحول الي قصة بحث عن كنز؟

أعتقد أني سأتحول الي وغد بحق أذا حرقت لك الأحداث, فجانب كبير من متعتي بالرواية هو أني لم أعلم شيئا سوي ما كتب علي الغلاف الخلفي
ولكني سأقول لك جملة واحده حتي أكون صريحا وأمينا في الريفيو -حتي وأن أُحتسب هذا "وغدنّه" - القصة ليست أيا مما سبق
أه والله

بل ويمكنني أن أضيف ليك ما هو أكثر
قد تبدو قصة عن الأحلام ... عن علم النفس والأعصاب .. عن الشفرات السرية عبر التاريخ .. عن علوم ما وراء الطبيعة.. عن التسعينات وما أدراك ما التسعينات "الأحداث تدور في 1995 بالرغم من الطابع الفيكتوري المحبب للنفس في روايات الرعب بالأخص"
ولكنها أيضا ليست عن أيا مما سبق تماما

ولكن ربما جل ماأثار اعجابي انها كان ممكن أن تصنف كرواية عن سحر الكتب والمكتبات والدراسات والمراجع حتي وأن كان بعضها خيالي وتكهنات الا انها تظل اكثر ما اعجبني.. ولكن
الرواية ليست عن هذا ايضا فحسب
دون المزيد من الفصح عن الأحداث تعليقي الوحيد هنا أن هذا ربما ما جعلني أتردد كثيرا في تقييمها بالأخص بعد قراءة الفصل الأخير "الرواية 3 فصول ,الأخير اصغرها" فقد شعرت أنني خُدعت نوعا ما

الفصلين الأول والثاني أثاروا انتباهي جدا, وحتي نهاية الفصل الثاني جعلتني منتظرا للذروة ولكن الفصل الثالث جعلني فعلا غير راضيا بالرغم من انه قدم ذروة أحداث ومفاجأه الا انها صارت لمنحني مختلف أخر غير كل ماسبق من منحنيات كثيرة

أه ألم أخبرك أن البيت ملحق به متاهه. يبدو أن المؤلف دخل هذه المتاهة أثناء كتابته للرواية, وأدخلنا معه بها
ولكن لا متاهه بالغلاف, اليس كذلك؟ ولكن ماذا قلت في اول الريفيو؟
لا تحكم علي الكتاب من غلافه..فحسب

ثانيا : لا تحكم علي الكتاب من طريقة سرده

ويبدو أنها "موضة" حديثة في الروايات كما في أفلام الرعب الأخيرة كـ
Paranormal Activity series , Rec. , V/H/S , etc..
تكون الرواية معتمدة ليس علي راوي , او وجهة نظر ثالثة وانما علي خطابات , تسجيلات صوتية , تسجيلات كاميرات مراقبة بالبيت او بالخارج , خطابات , مذكرات , وحتي ايصالات بيع وغيرها

حسنا ,بالخارج ليست بدعة جديدة, بل أشهر تلك التجارب كان في 1975 برواية ستيفن كينج الأشهر
Carrie by Stephen King
والتي تحولت لفيلم بنفس العنوانCarrie
ونحن هنا في مصر, بالأخص قراءّ الرائع المتنوع دائما د.أحمد خالد توفيق , سيتعرفوا علي تلك الطريقة المبتكرة بالسرد منذ منتصف التسعينات حيث أستخدمها في بعض اعداد ماوراء الطبيعة ,سلسلة الرعب الأشهر
أسطورة آكل البشر by أحمد خالد توفيقأسطورة الغرباء by أحمد خالد توفيق

ولكن طريقة الكاميرات والتسجيلات الصوتية هنا بالرواية أعطتها طابع سينمائي قوي فكانت أشبه بالسيناريو

ألا أن للأسف في بعض أجزاء الكاميرا المحمولة كانت طريقة السرد ضعيفه ومملة ,القراءة السريعة أفضل بالأخص لتلك الأجزاء والتي لم تكن كثيرة لحسن الحظ

ولكن لا تدع المظهر يخدعك, فقد تبدو لك الصفحات واسعة وبيضاء بدون كلمات كثيرة في كثير من الصفحات...ولكن مدة قراءتك للرواية ستظل بمعدل رواية عادية مليئة بالسطور

فحتي بيت أكسون كان اغلبه واسعا وشبهه خاوي, ولكنه كان يحفل بالكثير من الاسرار ,كذلك الرواية
فهناك مقالات اعجبتني جدا عن الأشباح , الأحلام , البلورات , بعض الأسفار -للأسف حاولت دون جدوي التحقق منها ليتضح لي انها جزء من الرواية الخيالية, والأهم مقالات عن الشفرات مكتوبة بأحترافية شديدة ومجزأه علي مراحل متغلغلة بين احداث الرواية في اماكنها المناسبة بطريقة متميزة وتحتاج لتركيز حقيقي

ألم أقل لك ألا تحكم عن الرواية من طريقة السرد فحسب؟

ثالثا : لا تحكم علي الرواية من حيث تعدد أبطالها
فالبطل والمراهقة هما الأهم من اول الرواية وحتي نهايتها .هم الأبقي لك

وللأسف هما فقط من اقتنعت بشخصيتهما من دون جميع الشخصيات الأخري التي ظهرت
حيث ان الباقي كان كما وصفت الأحداث بالبداية.. تشعر بان كل شخصية ينقصها شيئا ما يجعلني اشعر بعدم الاشباع في النهاية

شخصية البطل الملحد اثار جنوني احيانا , فقد ذكّرني كثيرا بالملحدين المصريين الحمقي الذين لايكفون عن اظهار الحادهم وعدم ايمانهم طوال الوقت

-يبدو ان المؤلف ليس ملحدا لذلك ظهرت الشخصية بهذه السطحية بخصوص تلك النقطة-

ولكن, أعجبني جزئية "أريد أن أؤمن" التي دارت حولها شخصية البطل..والذي كان متأثرا بفوكس مولدر من
The X- Files " I want to Believe"

اذا بالرغم من تعدد الشخصيات لم يعجبني سوي البطلان
الخاتمة : لا تحاول أن تحكم علي الرواية بنهايتها فقط

��يبدو أنه لأني أريد أن أؤمن متأثرا بكلا من البطل وفوكس مولدر, واعجبني كما قلت بعض المقالات بالرواية وان كانت تحتاج للبحث
أعجبني تأثر المؤلف بالكتب والمسلسلات التي تعجبني ايضا, وكما قلت اعجبني المقالات التي تنوعت بين حقائق علمية مؤكدة, وبعض التجارب والاساطير الحضرية حول الأحلام والاشباح والمساجد القديمة الغريبة بتركيا والشفرات

ولأنني أحاول الا احكم عن الرواية بنهايتها والتي لم تكن سيئة وانما فقط غير متوقعة قررت تقييمها بهذا التقييم
بين 3 وبين 4 "يبدو اني سأضعف كالعادة وامنحها 4" فقط للوقت المثير والممتع والنظيف "بعكس معظم رواياتنا المصرية الحديثة" الذي قضيته بين حوائط بيت أكسون الرهيب

محمد العربي
في بيت أكسون ، 1 طريق أكسون ، بوينت بليس 26969 ، فيرجينيا
من 4 نوفمبر 1995 2014
الي 31 ديسمبر 1995 12 نوفمبر 2014
Profile Image for carol..
1,534 reviews7,864 followers
February 10, 2019
Even in a genre tolerant of oddness, The Supernatural Enhancements is going to be a mixed read for most readers. It’s described by the publishers as a ‘paranormal thriller,’ but I’d adjust that and say it has a strong adventure story feel with mystical elements that slow down the pacing. The elements sound like a perfect elevator pitch: a bequeathed and haunted mansion, a treasure hunt, a mysterious society. The main characters are a twenty-three year old English A., who promptly quits his “studies” to travel to his new house in America with his only friend, Niamh, a mute with a distinct talent for electronics. They meet the neighbors, are visited by a mysterious men, there are Events In The Nighttime, and things generally progress along adventure lines.

It is the narrative structure which will likely prove most challenging to overcome. There’s a short two page introduction which grounds the reader, then Part One begins with the date, November 4, 1995, and the title, “A.’s Diary.” After a couple of pages, a ‘Letter to Aunt Liza” follows, then a brief excerpt from ‘Niamh’s Notepad.’ It follows this general layout, although at one point in the third letter to Aunt Liza, it seems to drop this conceit and note a conversation with Mr. Knox, supposedly a friend of the dead uncle. Once Niamh buys a camera security system, the narrative includes ‘Security Videotape: Location,” written in a tv-script-type format. Once A. and Niamh discover the mystery, they work on solving various codes, and the narrative starts to include “Except from Samuel Mandalay’s ARS Cryptographica, London, 1977.” (This appears to be a spoof; a Google search turns up a French site on ancient to modern techniques that will teach the reader, but no Mandalay mentioned). There’s also a couple of ‘photos’ of legal documents, random letters from the deceased uncle, cryptographs, dream journal entries, newspaper excerpts, etc. In short, a variety of styles, formats, and perspectives that are supposed to help the reader feel like they are on a journey of discovery as well, but result in a very disjointed narrative.

To pull together a tale with a narrative like that, an author really needs to have a strong plot with strong characters, so that the reader feels invested. It reminded me of the 1990s series, Griffin and Sabine by Nick Bantock, in which an artist exchanges letters and momentos with a mysterious woman on a distant island who seems to be having dreams of his current artwork. That story was smaller and less fragmented, so I felt it worked better. For me, the structure in Cantero’s story never gives us insight into Niamh’s history, only her current actions and what she writes on her notepad. We get the most from A., but again, concerned as it is with the mystery, we actually know very little about him. We get the strongest sense of the grounds and the house, although A. deceptively notes, “We have merely perceived a circular sequence of empty halls, large windows, fireplaces, chandeliers, spiderwebs, canopies, and a cluttered desk on every floor.”

The story seems to begin very slowly, and very comfortably, but starts to delve into fascinating and disturbing dreams A. is having. This is 'Part One' of the book, and is almost exactly half the page count. In 'Part Two,' the puzzle-solving piece takes front seat. 'Part Three' is the most comic-book and incongruous of the sections, and likely accounts for the 'thriller' in the official description. The mood in all three pieces is very different, as is the plotting. My guess is that Cantero's earlier background in comics/graphic novels is showing through. In fact, my one-word review would be ‘disjointed.’ Lots of good elements here, but I think they needed more transitions or links to really pull them together to make a story that will appeal to genre readers.
Profile Image for Maxwell.
1,133 reviews8,140 followers
March 4, 2016
This book was super fun. If you like books that are told in unique formats, then you'll probably enjoy this one. It's like Night Film and National Treasure and a gothic horror story all rolled into one really fast-paced, mystery novel. I don't want to explain the premise at all because I went into this one knowing absolutely nothing about it and it definitely enhanced my reading experience. But I will say, the ending was a bit anticlimactic for me. I was expecting something a lot grander and more fleshed out, but it seemed a bit rushed and I had quite a few questions left at the end. If you're looking for a fast, entertaining read this one is worth looking into, but don't expect anything life-changing. 3 stars
Profile Image for Rachel Pollock.
Author 13 books63 followers
September 2, 2014
So, let me clarify what my rating is actually about here. If i could, i'd give the first 300+ pages of this book five stars, because i loved it from the absolute get-go. I loved everything about it--the concept, the structure, the characters, the narrative choices, the use of language, everything. I read the damn thing at a racing clip, nonstop.

But, the last 30 or so pages, it all fell in on itself like a house of cards with a pile of shit in the middle. I categorically began to hate it, and i can't really explain why without copious spoilers, but let's just say that in the theatre, we'd say that it challenged the suspension of disbelief. Stuff just got too absurd, too fast, with too little justification for such extreme ridiculum. I suppose it could be chalked up to an attempt at a turbo-gotcha of a plot twist, but if that was the goal, it failed.

Still, i had such a great time reading the whole first 300+ pages that i can't pan the book, or give it a single star or anything, because i completely loved it, up until it disappointed me so deeply that if it were my boyfriend, i'd break up with it. But you know, exes can still be worthwhile people, so i'm giving it three stars.
Profile Image for  Linda (Miss Greedybooks).
348 reviews105 followers
December 2, 2018
I was awarded this book by NetGalley - and I am so thankful!!! I really liked it!

First, I was drawn in by the cover and title, hmmm. I quickly was so immersed in the story, I completely forgot that I like to try to figure out a mystery!

The first page being missing, I felt as if I was not being told something on purpose, something that I should know, but I forgot all about it after a chapter...

I was reading and enjoying all the suspense, the characters were so well developed.

Nearing the end I was thinking that possibly it was a 4 star book for me - then WHAM the epilog slapped me into seeing stars - all 5 of them!

I can't even tell you about it - just get it and read it for yourself.

Thank me later.

since reading this, I have had one really cool, and supernatural dream. coincidence?
Profile Image for Monica.
Author 4 books267 followers
November 8, 2018
Una historia muy, pero de verdad muy revuelta.
La premisa es muy interesante, motivo por el que lo compré de hecho, pero hubo muchas cosas que no funcionaron:
Los personajes no tuvieron el desenvolvimiento que esperaba, fueron planos y no llegamos a conocerlos como deberíamos para comprender un poco más la trama en general.
Los elementos, nombres que a mi parecer eran la médula espinal del libro entero, pero cuya explicación fue demasiado simple y nos dejaron con más preguntas que respuestas.
La línea de tiempo, a veces sentías que la historia no avanzaba nada y de pronto te aventaban un montón de cosas que en lugar de ayudar te dejaban confuso y sin entender el meollo del asunto.
La explicación de todo, me da la impresión que quisieron abarcar mucho y pensándolo la historia si daba para eso, pero al final no supieron explotarlo y quedó en apenas unas palabras que no dieron sentido a la trama, se perdió en el camino, esa me parece la frase más adecuada.
El final, si es que se le puede llamar de esa manera, porque no nos resolvieron nada, la maraña se volvió inmensa y fue como si en lugar de explicar solo la arrojaron a un lado para hacer como que todo funcionó con tal desenlace.
Confuso, tanto desde el principio como hasta el final.
Profile Image for Montzalee Wittmann.
4,559 reviews2,312 followers
September 7, 2018
Wow, taking supernatural to a new level!

The Supernatural Enhancements has a fantastic writing style and sucked me in right away! It has twists, turns, surprises right up to the last page! Love the unique characters too, not accustomed to see in a mute character as one of the main players! Nice change and have a different feel to many scenes. Excellent read!
Profile Image for Leanne.
129 reviews287 followers
September 4, 2016
I think it's pretty clear at this point that I'm a total sucker for gimmicks. Give me transcripts, articles, excerpts from (real or fake) reference books, and it's more than likely that I'll love it (some recent examples being The Three or Night Film). This one in particular is stuffed to the brim with all of the above, and more. There are even numerous clues and puzzles presented, none of which I actually had the brainpower to solve, but they make such a fun little treasure hunt whether they're crack-able or not.

The Supernatural Enhancements starts off a little strange - the beginning is a bit confusing and formal, and I had to re-read the first page a few times before I totally understood what was going on. But it's only uphill from there - soon I was totally engrossed in the mysterious and at times creepy world of Axton House. A - whose full name is never disclosed - inherits a magnificent and macabre estate from long-lost relative Ambrose Wells, whom he didn't even know existed, and decides to immediately move in with his companion, lovably spunky teenager Niamh. The events of the novel are primarily told through A's diary, video and audio transcripts from the equipment A and his sidekick, Niamh, use to bug and monitor the house, notes passed between A and Niamh (she's mute), and letters to Aunt Liza. Axton House is, of course, haunted, but that's not even the main plot - that honour belongs to the group of men Ambrose was associated with before his death and their unusual activities.

I often find that these types of books have unbelievably intriguing premises and then aren't able to follow through with them, but that is simply not the case here. There are several huge plot twists and unexpected reveals that actually make sense in the context of the novel and make you go "whaaa?!" without the often inevitable "but wait..."

The one thing I wasn't hugely fond of were the dreams. Dream sequences in books (or hearing about people's dreams in real life) have just never interested me, and although they did have some plot significance here, I couldn't help but skim through.

The Supernatural Enhancements is almost like a children's novel for adults - so much fun, so quirkily gothic, so satisfying. There's just enough gimmick to make it something a little bit different, but not enough to mask a weak plot or undeveloped characters (you'll find neither of those here!) Recommended if you like a good ghost, haunted house, or treasure hunt story (especially one that keeps you guessing!)
Profile Image for Emily.
698 reviews2,023 followers
December 16, 2014
I really, really wanted to like this book. Lots of smart people I know liked this book! In fact, I did enjoy this up until approximately the halfway point, when it takes a sharp turn away from being a haunted house story and goes in a completely insane direction. I suppose you could call it a "twist," but I'll call it a "plot that makes no goddamn sense." I JUST HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS.

I suspend belief frequently, especially if the book involves dragons, but the internal logic of this one makes absolutely no sense.
Profile Image for TL .
1,820 reviews35 followers
June 23, 2015
4.5 Stars *minor editing sorry*

What I expected and at the same time not.

Blurbs describing this book:
Edgar Cantero has written a dazzling and original supernatural adventure featuring classic horror elements with a Neil Gaiman-ish twist

Told vividly and mysteriously through a series of journal entries, scrawled notes, recovered security footage, letters to a mysterious "Aunt Liza," audio recordings, complicated ciphers, and even advertisements, Edgar Cantero has written a dazzling and original supernatural adventure with glimmers of Carlos Ruiz Zafón's Shadow of the Wind.

Now with blurbs like that, I was excited to read this and put it on my paperbackswap wishlist (I haven't read Neil Gaiman yet *ducks* but I heard alot about him, and well Carlo Ruiz Zafon = <3). As soon as I got it in the mail, I dove into it... hoping for a good tale.

This does have hints of the gothic/supernatual in it but the mystery part is more present with the supernatural stuff a sort of footnote in the background. The mystery was well done, unveiled somewhat slowly but it kept my attention.

Clues are gathered and revealed via letters, diary entries, articles, and so on. A couple times the 'excerpts/articles' got on my nerves but other than that I enjoyed the way everything unfolded.

Niamh and A. I enjoyed getting to know, watching them grow closer and unraveling the secrets and mysteries of Ambrose and the house.

The history of the house was interesting and I wish we had gone deeper into it, it would have added more darkness to the story but it might not have fit with the pacing as well perhaps (I would welcome an ebook please ;-) *hint hint*).

As for the horror elements, there are some but (and maybe this is just me) it didn't 'scare' me too much. It was chilling certainly in spots but there was 'something' missing, that extra kick... if you want to call it that.

The story takes its time to set up but keeps a good pace, I was never bored or tempted to DNF at all. After about a little over the halfway point , it became very hard for me to put down (if I had been home, I would have finished it in one day... damn work lol).

What it all ended up being about and what 'the meetings' at the house was both fascinating and creepy. Even after Caleb explained things I still thought these guys were off their rockers.

The ending before the ending (that make sense haha) was shocking and I couldn't read the pages fast enough. One part had me mentally cheering when the ghost did something to help. I was anxious for one other person but also relieved at the end.

The style did remind me of Mister Zafon in the way he set up the story and the atmospheric quality of everything. He's got a good talent here and I can't wait to see what he does next as he continues to grow as a writer.

The ending had a couple surprises in it and had me laughing a bit. Those clever people :).

The book did have those couple minor issues for me but overall I really enjoyed it, I would recommend it:)

Happy reading!
Profile Image for Taylor.
301 reviews115 followers
October 31, 2014
Delightfully quirky. This story was totally my style.

It gave me that giddy feeling that you get when you first start a book and you realize you're going to love it.

An odd yet lovable twenty-something European kid inherits a fortune from a distant American relative, along with an old mansion steeped in mystery and haunted by a dark past. He is joined by an equally eccentric companion, a bright young woman who is mute (due to unknown childhood emotional trauma) and communicates solely through writing and gestures. They explore the mansion, determined to uncover the secrets of its former owners, and stumble upon something quite unusual.

The story is composed of mostly excerpts from letters, dream journals, and sound/video recordings. There are puzzles and codes galore, making this such a fun read.

It's a bit reminiscent of The Shining and House of Leaves, but not quite as terrifying and not quite so dark. It goes off in its own direction, and has a great sense of humor.

Side note: That library in Axton House sounds awesome. Where can I get myself one of those??

Uniquely funny, creepy, sweet and haunting all at once. Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Yodamom.
1,989 reviews194 followers
August 5, 2014
Not the book for me. I struggled to get through this, I wanted to love it. I couldn’t like it no matter how hard I tried. It wasn’t the story it was the format. The story is told through diary entries, notes, letters, video feeds, codes, histories and others. I just couldn’t stay interested, it jumped around to much for this reader. I expected paranormal fantasy, what I got was more of a mystery, deciphering codes, pages on this subject bored me to sleep several nights while trying to slip through it. I stayed with it, I wanted to find the love, I did not. Not my taste in reading.
Profile Image for Hollowspine.
1,422 reviews31 followers
November 5, 2017
The Supernatural Enhancements is a paranormal mystery story told in letters, notes, audio and video recordings, snippets of articles, sections of books and etc. It begins as A., a man whose age is never given but is probably in his twenties or thirties, inherits Axton House from a distant relation. Throughout the novel he writes letters to his "Aunt Liza", describing the property and his encounters within. Accompanying him is Niamh (Neve), whose exact age is never given, but is apparently somewhere between 14-17. They sleep "not touching" in a large bed together, experiencing weird visions, ghosts and other disturbances as they try to solve the mystery of Axton House.

Strike one for me is Niamh. She has to be one of the most unbelieveable women I've read about in some time. Talk about "Manic Pixie Dreamgirl." Except this time with an extra dose of pedo. Not only is she bordering on prepubesent, she is in love with A., but how she fell in love, why the two are together at all, is only explained at the very end, and not well. She is also mute and uses handwritten notes as her only means of communication. Why she wouldn't learn how to use sign language is beyond me. No doubt the author thought it was much cuter for her to write her little scribbles instead of actually being able to speak her mind. Oh yeah, and despite the punk look apparently she's also a devout believer in God. Of course, being the reasoning, scholarly, clever man, A. is an atheist, but he humors her by going to church with her on Sundays, how sweet (barf).

After giving Niamh an extremely boring rant, Niamh writes "You turn me SO on when you do that." Mansplaining is so HOT! (Also is that what teenage girls really sound like? Really?) To which A. responds, "take a long shower later." Not only is Cantero trying to make readers believe that A. is hot, he's also trying to make us believe that A. can easily reject Niamh, sending her to take cold showers to temper her burning desire for him. Unbelievable.

A psychologist determines that Niamh's mutism is an 'acquired condition.' Which means what exactly? Did she have her tongue cut out? The reader never finds out, I suppose it's unimportant, since the point of her not speaking is just the author's device to center the narrative around all important A. while Niamh plays the adorable silent sidekick. The psychologist also writes that Niamh cannot "express her feelings (due to disability)," which is crap. Plenty of people have speech impairments and yet, by some amazing miracle, they're able to express themselves just fine.

Okay. Taking the frankly disturbing characterization and use of Niamh's character out of the equation, this is still not a good book. It's billed as a paranormal mystery, but it didn't pan out for me. Take, for example, the (way too long) sections as the characters try to solve encoded messages. Normally I like a nice code to try to work out. And granted, I'm no cryptographer, the book made it pretty unengaging for me. After trying a few things out I felt that I wasn't given enough information to solve the puzzle before the characters themselves solved it. That's no fun.

We also had the mystery of the break-in early in the book. We're lead to believe the culprit is one guy, but of course I knew (and I'm sure any reader who is familiar with Scooby Doo would too) that it couldn't be him. So who else to suspect? Oh yeah, you know that guy who has gotten about three scenes in the entire book? It's him.

Looking at some other things, take the excerpts/interviews/notes. They were so utterly boring that I often skimmed through them.

Also, Cantero's use of his mish-mashed made up words only added eye-rolls from my side. The writing is not that great. A. is often gives himself compliments hidden as self-deprecation. I.e. Niamh makes fun of me for sounding like H.P. Lovecraft.

In short, the book sets up loads of mysteries, riddles, and codes. But gives readers few (if any) clues to solve them. And the mysteries end up to be unexplained, completely nonsensical or just for narrative convenience. For any readers looking for a good mystery, skip this one. For readers who enjoy the mythos, also skip this one, nothing of note actually happens, and if it does it's not as interesting as a love affair between a child and a man. Just tell me why the heck Niamh had to be underage? What did that add? Why would a writer do that for no good reason, just to make people uncomfortable? The love story between A. and Niamh wasn't even fleshed out, why did she like him? Why did he like her? What was their history? We don't know. I don't get it.

In long...

In the end I still have no idea exactly why A. and Niamh went to the house, what their mission was, and why something that is conducting dreams through a copper bed canopy would affect one person in said bed, but not the other.

Like I said, slap-dash, sexist and the only thing that makes reading worth it is what my brother said when he saw the title. "I should write a short story called, 'Supernatural Male Enhancement!'" I'm sure A. would get rickrolled by that, easy.

July 16, 2014
I received this ARC from Net Galley and Doubleday Publishing in exchange for an honest review

Bell, Book and Candle Blog Review

This book was absolutely brilliant. The story was fast paced and instantly ensnared me. Every time something creepy happened, I was like...

The build-up was amazing, and I found myself wanting to jump inside the book and interact with the characters when it came to clues. Speaking of which, I have heard of encrypting letters during wars, but I never knew the types and how to do it. It was quite fascinating to learn a little history about it and know how to encrypt and decrypt letters for future reference (you never know). Trying to figure out the clues made me feel like Nancy Drew or one of the Hardy boys. Or think of Blue's Clues lol

I could barely figure out what clue led to what. Usually I am very good at solving riddles or figuring out the clues before the characters do, but this book left me stumped. I enjoyed the brain challenge. The dialogue was pretty interesting between Niamh and A. I have never met a mute person, so it was interesting reading the communication between Niamh and other characters.

The red herring and twist at the end definitely got me; I really didn't see it coming, which is surprising to me. The mystery element was the finest I have ever read. The saying that hindsight is always 20/20 is quite true in regards to this book, because looking back I can now piece together the clues to see how it all fit together; perhaps the characters can too.
Profile Image for Bonnie.
1,371 reviews920 followers
May 14, 2015
‘...all those pathetic lonely people fooling one another into their clumsy games of afterlife and cosmic relevance just to avoid noticing the nauseating sadness of their real lives. How could it sink that low?
That’s how I used to feel, bound by reason to boredom.
And then along came Axton House.’

The main character, known only as “A.” inherits Axton House, a mansion in American, after a second-cousin twice removed by the name of Ambrose Wells commits suicide by throwing himself from his bedroom window. Strangely enough, Ambrose’s father died the same way. At the same age. A. travels to America to get his affairs in order and with him comes Niamh, a mute teenager who communicates throughout the novel via notepad. The two soon immerse themselves in the mystery of the house which they find involves a secret society and many mysterious coded messages.

The Supernatural Enhancements is a Gothic mystery with a sole ghost and a strange sense of eclecticism. Unfortunately, it ranks right up there for me with The Quick in terms of absolute pointlessness. The story is told through various means including audio and video recordings, A’s day to day diary and a most disturbing dream journal, letters to an ‘Aunt Liza’, as well as various excerpts from books that they use in their research. It definitely had a Night Film feel regarding the unique way of telling the story but the story itself bounced around far too much and left far too much confusion in its wake. The strange codes that the two must unravel in order to progress further in solving the mystery should have been fun but instead I found them to be a tedious addition since us as readers had little to no chance of solving them ourselves so the pages and pages of detail regarding how they solved it only resulted in causing me a headache of epic proportions.

The characters themselves were mysterious and quirky but not in the most appealing way. We’re given very little detail on the two (other than the fact that they’re X-File fans which should have caused me to like them on that principle alone, but no) or anything about A. (or why he’s only referred to as A. because that’s just weird) or Niamh and their strange relationship; only that Niamh likes A. but she’s underage so it’s pointless. Or so we’re led to believe. The two sleep in a bed described as “big enough for each of us to throw an orgy without her guests disturbing mine”. And she apparently sleeps there because she’s there to protect him, which makes total sense.

Actually, it never ends up making sense. None of it does. The characters don’t make sense nor their purpose, the bad guys, or this secret society. The mysteries are seemingly explained but in a quick and careless way that is meant to be quirky and interesting but left much to be desired. The Supernatural Enhancements had a promising initial feel that, as Rory put, felt like “a lighthearted, simpler cousin” to The House of Leaves — just minus the use of mirrors. It regrettably fell flat for me.

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Profile Image for Kat Heckenbach.
Author 31 books228 followers
November 17, 2015
You shouldn't judge a book by its cover. But oh, this cover....I HAD to get the book just for that. Of course, I looked at the description--a mysterious suicide and a haunted house? I'm in.

It started off okay. At first I wasn't sure I was going to be able to deal with the way the story is told. The journal entries didn't bother me--they read basically like first person prose. The notes back and forth between A. and Niamh were effective and really brought Niamh to life for me (I completely adored her). But the surveillance video descriptions bugged me in the beginning.

Then, something happened. I realized: This is NOT a ghost story. It's a mystery. And the author was doing things that soon had me completely entangled--he was creating characters I really, really liked, dropping clues at the perfect pace, and playing on my total geek side with investigations into encrypted codes and..... Before long, the video and audio transcription parts were suddenly more captivating than regular prose would have been.

A quick aside: The style of the book was not the only oddity. The voice was very different, too. It takes place in the 1990's but it felt like a much earlier time period. Had you taken out the pop culture references, it would have easily fit in as taking place in the 1920's. I think it totally worked for me, though.

What I'm not entirely sure about is the ending. I can't quite place my finger on what exactly bothers me about it. A little too fast compared to the pacing of the rest of the novel? The twist a little too far out? I'm not entirely sure, but I closed the book a bit disappointed in the ending. However--I am tempted to read it again simply because of the ending, in search of hints that might make it more meaningful to me.

That last said, I definitely recommend the book. It's unique style, the literary bent, the mystery, and the characters all sucked me in despite the fact that I had totally expected something else.

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My YA fantasy series:
book 1
Finding Angel (Toch Island Chronicles, #1) by Kat Heckenbach
book 2
Seeking Unseen (Toch Island Chronicles, #2) by Kat Heckenbach
Profile Image for Randee.
824 reviews32 followers
October 4, 2014
I can see I'm in the minority here since the majority obviously liked it much better than I did. The cheese stands alone? Here are my thoughts after finishing it just a half hour ago. I had trouble with the execution. I actually had trouble following the action at times and got a bit confused. The story is laid out with quite a few different methods in telling the story. Diary entries, notes, letters, etc. The main female character is mute which only adds to the discophany as he would talk at her and she would hold up a 3 or 4 word scribble. I also think that probably because the story was laid out in different methods of information, I never felt that I knew the two main characters. They just seemed like cardboard cut outs rather than real people caught in surreal circumstances. Without giving any specifics for those who haven't read it, I thought I was reading a haunted house story for the longest time. It is only in the most marginal of ways a haunted house story. Rather than feeling enchanted or that the author was clever when all was revealed, I felt a bit like the rug had been pulled out from under me. Of all the books I have read so far this year, I enjoyed this one the least. (Although there is still time for one to leapfrog over this to grasp first place.)
Profile Image for MaggyGray.
565 reviews27 followers
November 16, 2018
Wenn sich Genialität mit Phantasie mischt!

Immer mal wieder gibt es so Bücher, für die man an der Haustür des Autors klingeln möchte, um sein Gesicht abzuküssen. Oder zumindest um ihn anzubetteln, doch bitte eine Fortsetzung zu schreiben. Nachdem man seine Wut niedergekämpft hat, weil es das betreffende Buch schon eeewig gibt, und man erst durch die Übersetzung überhaupt erst darauf aufmerksam wurde.

"Mördersiche Renovierung" ist so ein Buch. Zwar würde ich mir das mit dem Abküssen nochmal überlegen, aber für eine Fortsetzung davon würde ich es mir schon nachts vor der Buchhandlung auf dem Bürgersteig bequem machen. Egal.

Der einzige Kritikpunkt, den ich für diese Geschichte finde, ist, dass sie eigentlich viel zu komplex ist, als dass man sie in knappe 400 Seiten quetschen könnte (ein- zweihundert Seiten mehr hätte das durchaus vertragen), und dass der Schluss für mich persönlich viel zu abrupt und brutal ist. Da hätte ich mir eine elegantere Lösung gewünscht.
Aber der Rest ist so vollgepackt mit Ideen, mit vertrackten Rätseln, mit dubiosen Wendungen und Cliffhangern, dass man über diese Defizite gerne hinwegsieht.
Das Erzählen der Geschichte auf verschiedenen Ebenen und Arten - Briefe, Tagebucheinträge, Tonband- und Videoaufzeichnungen, Notizen etc. - macht das ganze zu einem Leseabenteuer, dem man sich nur schwer entziehen kann. Zwar geraten vor allem die Code-Knackereien ab und an ein bisschen lang, aber dafür wird man mit absolut schrägen und liebenswerten Charakteren belohnt, die einem ans Herz wachsen.
Die Idee ist so simpel wie genial: der namenlose Protagonist A erbt ein großes Spukhaus eines dubiosen amerikanischen Onkels, der sich, genauso wie sein Vater vorher, durch einen Sprung aus dem Fenster das Leben genommen hat. Dieses Haus ist Schauplatz eines mysteriösen jährlichen Treffens einer Gruppe von Männern, die alle ein bestimmtes Spiel spielen, und dafür auf die Offenbarungen einer kristallenen Speicherkugel angewiesen sind. Und auch A und seine stumme Begleiterin sind nicht die, für die sie sich ausgeben...

Mehr kann man zu dieser Geschichte eigentlich nicht schreiben, ohne komplett zu spoilern, also spare ich mir jedes weitere Wort und sage nur: Lesen!
Profile Image for Mauoijenn.
1,127 reviews111 followers
January 14, 2016
This book was a fun book to read. A felt a little towards the end it was rushed and could have gone on for a bit more, my opinion, of course. Reading this made me think about all those nights my family use to watch the X-Files. I will have to look into more books by Cantero.
Profile Image for Jolene.
129 reviews32 followers
January 3, 2015
**Thank you Doubleday and Netgalley for providing this in exchange for an honest review**

This book completely blindsided me. Of course the story itself interested me (why would I request it if it didn't?), but when I noticed it was told through journal entries, Blair Witch style camera footage, and letters, my excitement was dampened. This isn't a writing style I'm fond of. There have been a couple exceptions, but these books usually end up as DNFs or 1 Star reads. In this case, I can't wait to throw my money at Amazon for a hardcover copy.

A is a young Englishman who has just been left a house, and a fortune, in VA by a second cousin twice removed. Seeing as A never knew his cousin, Ambrose, existed, he is understandably surprised by this. A and his mute, teenage companion, Niamh, set off to claim his inheritance. It doesn't take long to figure out all is not right with Axton House, and that's not counting the ghost haunting the bathroom. A starts having nightmares, only they aren't like any nightmares he has ever had before. These feel real. Someone breaks into Ambrose's office. The safe has been opened and the contents left inside. What was the thief looking for? They find coded messages Ambrose wanted sent to friends. What do they say? Why are all the names also coded? Was he a Mason? Was he part of a cult? Why did he have a huge gathering every December 21st? Why did all the servants have to leave the property before the guest arrived? What caused Ambrose to throw himself out of a window, just like his father had?

This started out a little slow, but by 10% I was hooked. I honestly loved everything about this title. The characters were well developed. Niamh has joined my all time favorite characters. The setting is deliciously creepy. The supernatural elements creeped me the fuck out. The mystery kept me on the edge of my seat until the very end. Buy it, borrow it from the library, do whatever you need to do to get your hands on this book. If you enjoy it half as much as I did, it'll be well worth your time.
Profile Image for Kate.
481 reviews17 followers
March 13, 2015
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

A. has inherited Axton House from a distant relative. Along with his mute teenage companion, Niamh, they move to Virginia, taking up residence in the house and begin to unravel the secrets surrounding the mysterious demise of his distant cousin and the secret society that he was part of.

I loved the gimmick of this story, it's told through the use of diary entries, letters to Aunt Liz, audio recordings, notes, diagrams and video recordings. I've enjoyed other stories read using the epistolary format so this engaged me from the start. There's quite a lot going on, it's not a book you can skim and you'd be likely to miss important detail. That being said some of the cipher/code material was a bit tiresome and I did find it dragging through these parts but they weren't long so didn't really affect the read too much.

Character wise, I like both A. and Niamh. Even though you never find out A's name he's a likeable character and someone that was easy to root for. Niamh is mute but the author has no difficulty infusing a strong personality into her character, she is a strong female presence in the novel, smart, tough and hell bent on getting her own way, I liked her a lot.

The story itself starts off as a mystery, with A and Niamh trying to figure out what happened to the A's relative and finding out a bit more about the secret society he was involved in, at the beginning a ghost makes an appearance and it looks as though it will be a large part of the coming storyline. This is when the book took another turn and it evolved into a treasure hunt with the main characters looking for clues, deciphering codes and trying to work out more about who the other parties in the society were. Not what I was expecting but engrossing none the less. That being said I was slightly disappointed the ghost didn't make more of an impact in the story.

Unique, fast paced, great characters and a lot of fun to read. Recommended.
Profile Image for Richard Gazala.
Author 4 books69 followers
August 13, 2014
Edgar Cantero's thriller "The Supernatural Enhancements" is the latest entry in the centuries-old narrative device that is the epistolary novel. The device, where a story is told via a montage of variably trustworthy letters, journal entries, newspaper clippings, etc., been used by many authors to better effect. (Stoker's "Dracula," Shelley's "Frankenstein," and Collins' "The Moonstone" are a just a few classics that leap immediately to mind.) Cantero's effort to tread in those well-worn footprints is not an abject failure, but readers are justified wondering why the author elected to tell the story this way. The plot and setting, and the characters that populate them, are all sufficiently intriguing to hold interest on their own merits without resort to gratuitous epistolary gymnastics. Cantero's choice of narrative technique detracts, often materially, from what could otherwise be a solidly gripping paranormal mystery. The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero
Profile Image for El.
1,355 reviews503 followers
October 14, 2017
In my review of Horrorstör, I made the comment that it felt too "millennial" for my tastes. I'm going to say the same about this book right off the bat. I'm not sure what it is about these books these days, or if I'm just too old and curmudgeonly at my ripe age of 39 to care about any of it, or what, but these books appear to be written by and for people who have no attention span.

This entire book is what we would call "epistolary" because it is told through a series of documents, rather than a traditional narrative. This is fine - it has worked in oodles of literature over the years, like Dracula - but it is nothing but a distraction here. I gave no fucks about any of these characters because there was nothing that happened to give me any reason to feel connection to any of them. The story bounces between A.'s (the 23-year-old male protagonist) diary entry, letters to "Aunt Liza", notes written by the mute 16-year-old Irish "guardian" to A., Niamh, dream journal, video recording, audio recording, telegrams, postcards, excerpts from other books, and lord knows I'm probably forgetting others. In other words, it bounced around too much and much too quickly, so I never was drawn into the story. This sort of technique can work (when done well and skillfully) but in this case it appeared lazy and uninspired.

And, dare I say it yet again, like someone is just waiting for the movie to be made.

You remember how the Paranormal Activity movies were sort of a big deal when they started because of the cameras in the house telling the story to make you feel like you were really there, or whatever, or we can even go back to Blair Witch Project with the handheld camera. But the point is that in those scenarios, the perspective worked. It doesn't work as well in text, but whenever the movie gets made I'm sure it will work out better.

I had trouble understanding what was really happening. This is not because I'm a bad reader, but because of the frenetic pace and style of the story, I had a shit-ton difficulty understanding what was the point or what I should be looking at. It starts out appearing to be a paranormal story which is great, but then there's this secret society - also great! But then this secret message and cipher thing which, on its own, is also great, but now we have so many layers to this story and it's all just one giant red herring and makes me not care at all about what is really behind the weirdness in this Axton House.

And because I had trouble connecting, I then had difficulty with what may or may not have been a throwaway plot point: the therapist, Dr. Vanessa Belknap tells A. that she is a Freemason. Um. This isn't to say that women can't be Masons, but there's more to it than that - they are not recognized by other Masons generally as being Masons, so while that comment thrown in rather unnecessarily might have been interesting, it never really went anywhere and, again, just felt like sloppy writing.

Basically, there's too much happening here. Pick one or two things and run with it. You don't have to put every awesome idea you've ever had since you've been alive into one novel, for crying out loud. Just try to make the one novel something interesting all the way through.

As a side note, I did not like the portrayal of Niamh and her relationship with A. She is a deaf-mute and chooses to use a notepad to convey her thoughts instead of everyone learning sign language, I guess, because that's not fun or easy. And, I don't know, the relationship rubbed me the wrong way. She's a "guardian" to A., but what does that even mean, and why did she choose him, and why are they sleeping in the same bed anyway. She runs around in her underwear too much, whether by choice or because something has happened that she just can't wear her clothes right then. Maybe if the story didn't bounce around between all these different recordings and perspectives that might have come together better, but cheese and rice, was it fucking annoying.

I do, however, love the name Niamh. Unfortunately she's a young punk girl with an acquired disability that is somehow meant to make A.'s life better. You know what that sounds like to me? A manic-pixie dream girl. Ew. Just ew.

This was a drag for me to read. I was mostly on board with most of it, and could even say to myself that's okay if it's not amazing, as long as it's interesting, but then it stopped being interesting because of all the different angles and directions. Then it became a chore and I couldn't wait to be finished with it.

But that cover really is nice.
Profile Image for Tina.
45 reviews38 followers
October 15, 2014
There are two major types of reviewers in this world: those who write reviews to praise, and those who write reviews to criticize. I am definitely the latter.

This is the second book I've picked up at the library this year with a really pretty, cool looking cover. I am never going to make that mistake again. Both of them are HUGE letdowns.

It's told through various mediums - security footage (why security footage of all things?), a dream journal, letters, conversations recorded by the mute character (which I was soooooo not ok with in any way shape or form but more on that later), etc. I seem to be in the minority about this particular storytelling technique. This method is usually cool in theory, but it's difficult to pull off. If the writer doesn't utilize them in the clearest and most economical way, all it does is confuse the reader and muddle the story - creating extra crap where there shouldn't be any. That's exactly what happens here. There is just so much format switching that it's usually not clear what's going on, where they are, or even who is speaking. And that makes the story BORING because eventually you just stop paying attention.

I initially took my time in reading it, but I realized a couple of days ago that if I was going to push through it, I'd have to do it in one sitting, otherwise there was no way I'd be able to keep any of this information straight.

I picked this up because it's sold as a haunted house story. It certainly looks like a haunted house story. But it's only marginally a haunted house story. There are so many different ways to utilize a huge, old, gothic style manor where people tend to kill themselves. And yet...there's really not a whole lot of paranormal stuff going on. And the explanation for it was such a let down.

And then there is Niamh, the mute, teenage, female companion of our protagonist. Both her and her relationship with A are huge red flags for me. And the more I read, the more uncomfortable I seemed to become about it. I really had a problem with the main female character being so young and mute on top of it. When she and A talk, she scribbles on a notepad her responses to whatever he's saying. Why no sign language? Oh that's right - because it's easier to write dialogue without describing the gestures and tone that go with it. Languages aren't just words on a page. There is an audible and physical component to them. That is what is usually referred to as a cop out, but I think "lazy" is the better term.

She also spoke poor english (at least at first, and the author has the courtesy to explain it) which, as I got through more of the book, seemed like an excuse to make A seem older, and an authorial excuse to patronize her. These little idiosyncrasies are not endearing or mysterious...they rob an important character of her voice and some of her credibility. I take MAJOR ISSUE with that.

Ugh and don't even get me started on the ending. What a joke.
Profile Image for Jamie Stewart.
Author 10 books159 followers
March 8, 2019
Edgar Cantero you’ve done it again!!! The Supernatural Enhancements is a energetic and entertaining read that shows off this writers talent for pulling a reader into a story and running away with there imagination. It is also one weird tale and anyone coming into this expecting a certain type of story based on how the cover looks or the blurb will be surprised. First and foremost The Supernatural Enhancements is a mystery about a mansion and it’s previous owner. However, there is also the mystery of its two main characters. In its 300 pages I know very little about them other than they are complex, funny and endearing. The character of Niamh is my favourite, a pucky, goth with attitude. This is partly due to the novels format which is told through journals, dairies and notepads. In someways people could see this as a negative if they find as I did that I was more interested in the characters blossoming relationship and interaction than the overall mystery. But that’s subjective upon who you are as a reader.

The author does use the same trick twice in the novels telling. The first time is a third of the way through and the second is at the end. The first one works better simply because by the time the second comes around your expecting it. The author saves this by giving readers a twist in the last three pages that left me feeling like WHAT THE HELL DID I JUST READ!!!!!!!

All in all this book is worth your time.
Profile Image for Melissa McShane.
Author 60 books745 followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
January 13, 2015
It was interesting enough that I'm not going to give it a starred rating despite not finishing it (I gave it 150 pages), but I kept having the feeling that it was trying to be cleverer than it is. There are so many clevernesses that I had trouble staying connected to it; I was always conscious of "look at this cool thing I did." Disappointing, because I love puzzles and codes, and I think the interweaving of different media (diary, transcriptions, excerpts from books) was well done, so I'm just going to leave it at "not for me."
Profile Image for Aleshanee.
1,411 reviews97 followers
September 24, 2020
Mein Fazit
Das Cover und der Klappentext haben mich sofort angezogen und ich war sehr gespannt, denn beim ersten Durchblättern hab ich schon gemerkt, dass hier ein außergewöhnlicher Stil zum Tragen kommt: Es ist ein Mix aus Tagebucheinträgen von Protagonist A., der mit seiner Gefährtin Niamh das Axton House bezieht, sein Erbe von einem entfernten Cousin, der sich aus dem Fenster zu Tode gestürzt hat.
Niamh ist stumm und trägt zur Geschichte mit ihren Notizen bei, mit denen sie sich mit A. austauscht.
Es gibt auch beschriebene Szenen von Kameraeinstellungen, Texten aus Büchern, einer Handycam, einem Traumjournal oder auch Tagebüchern. Also ein sehr abwechslungsreicher Mix, der das Lesen besonders gemacht hat.

Die erste Hälfte fand ich auch wirklich grandios gemacht und hat die Spannung in die Höhe getrieben, was hinter den Spukgeschichten um das "Geisterhaus" steckt, ab dann verliert es sich etwas und hat für mich sehr nachgelassen. Auch weil ich mir mehr Mystery und Grusel erwartet hatte.
Wenn es dann an die Aufklärung geht wird es wieder etwas fesselnder, denn trotz allem wollte ich natürlich wissen, welches Geheimnis sich verbirgt. Die Idee ist wirklich cool, aber es hat mir die Faszination dafür gefehlt - was echt schade war, da es definitiv mal was neues war.
Trotzdem hat es mich etwas unbefriedigt zurückgelassen ...
Profile Image for Amy (Other Amy).
453 reviews89 followers
March 18, 2016
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.
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