The Supernatural Enhancements

The Supernatural Enhancements

by Edgar Cantero


$24.78 $26.95 Save 8% Current price is $24.78, Original price is $26.95. You Save 8%.
View All Available Formats & Editions


The mesmerizing English debut from the bestselling author of Meddling Kids—what begins as a gothic ghost story soon evolves into a wickedly twisted treasure hunt.

Months after the last of the Wells sons jumped out of his bedroom window in Axton House (incidentally forgetting to open it first), a strange couple of Europeans arrive in Virginia to take possession of the estate. A. is the 23-year-old unforeseen scion; Niamh is the mute punk teen girl he refers to as his associate or his bodyguard. Both are ready to settle into their new cushy lifestyle, and the rumors about the mansion being haunted add to their excitement. But ghosts are not in any way the deepest secret of the house.
Through journals, letters, security footage, audio recordings, and ciphers, we follow A. and Niamh as they delve into Wells’ dubious suicide, the secret society he founded and its mysterious Game —a “bourgeois pastime” of global proportions— in Edgar Cantero’s dazzling and original gothic adventure.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385538152
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/12/2014
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Edgar Cantero is a writer and cartoonist from Barcelona working in Catalan, Spanish and English. He was born in 1981.


A Conversation with Edgar Cantero, author of THE SUPERNATURAL ENHANCEMENTS

The Supernatural Enhancements begins as a ghost story in a classic haunted house, but we are very quickly swept up in a much larger, twisting international adventure tale. The novel bridges the gap between horror, suspense, and adventure in such a unique and entertaining way. What was the seed of the novel for you, and did you set out to pull all these worlds together?

Well, I don't plan ahead. At all. Especially in the case of TSE—I had no big vision on the first day. I wanted to do a haunted house story, so I began with the old dead-uncle, eerie-mansion routine. But then I needed a plot too. You know, I'm unprejudiced like A.; I'd accept a haunted house as it is; I wouldn't try to cleanse it or anything. So I brought in the Twenty, so my characters had something to deal with. And I guess it reads like an adventure because of A. and Niamh's playful approach to the whole thing. It all came naturally.

You were born in Barcelona and have published cartoons and novels in both Catalan and Spanish, but this is your first time publishing a novel in English. What inspired you to tell this story in English, and how did that change your experience?

Several reasons come to mind, but one's capital: I've fed on American/British entertainment all my life. Everything I create is heavily influenced by it, and I've found English is the natural language for it. I've felt frustrated at Catalan and Spanish before, because they lack the words, the gears to narrate action sequences at Tony-Scott-editing speed. And every book, every movie I wanted TSE to resemble was in English; English seemed the only option.

The novel is set (mostly) at an old gothic mansion in the fictional town of Point Bless, Virginia...and there is an arch undercurrent of American pop culture that is both biting and hilarious. What about this story demanded that you set it in the US, and how did you bring the setting to such life?

I can't remember why I placed Axton House in the US—let alone in Virginia. I guess it's where I'd like to have an eccentric and generous uncle myself. I love the US, or my Hollywood-distorted view of it. And that's the point: I've consumed such colossal quantities of American movies and TV, I felt easy trying to recreate that world. I don't mind if it doesn't look realistic (I've never set foot on Virginia); if it looks like a movie, it's okay.

An important element to the book is the non-traditional way in which the narrative unfolds. The reader is shown diary entries, surveillance video transcripts, letters, receipts, invoices, and other highly creative devices that are both integral to the story and also help augment the sense of secrecy and hidden meaning...while never breaking the magic of reading. What inspired you to design and structure the book unconventionally?

You'll think this is unbelievable, but again, I don't plan ahead. I guess I went through the first chapter using only a diary, a mute girl's notepad, and a letter, and I thought, "I wonder how far I can go like this." It became a challenge.
I think that's also why the main character's name is just "A.": I signed his letters with an initial because I couldn't bother to think of a good name at the moment, and maybe 90 pages into the book I said, "Can I get away with not giving him a name?"

What does "supernatural" mean to you?

"Interesting." Also, "fictional." That's sad, don't you think?

Who have you discovered lately?

I discover pretty much everyone I read, because I choose books by the cover, with zero clues about their authors. As for very good impressions lately... John Sladek

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

The Supernatural Enhancements 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Mirella More than 1 year ago
Be prepared for an unusual reading experience. Of all the books I’ve ever read, this book has to be the most unique book I’ve ever read. The story does not unfold through narrative. Rather, it is written in epistolary in style, the story revealed through letters, descriptions of closed circuity video footage, diaries, journal entries, and notes written between the two protagonists, a man named A. and a deaf mute woman named Niamh. The story is a Gothic ghost story, where A. inherits a mansion from a distant relative he has never met. Along with the mansion comes a lot of wealth. What follows is a wonderful creative tale that builds suspense through plot twists, unusual occurrences, and minor mysteries that need to be solved. Because of this unusual method of storytelling, the tale unfolds with more impact as we experience things through the main character’s perspectives. The reader is able to engage in a more intimate manner with the characters. The video descriptions truly play out like the reader is watching, giving it credence and a sense of realism. For those who want an easy read and to enjoy a wonderfully unique method of storytelling, one that has plenty of suspense and mystery, then this cozy ghost story is definitely recommended. 
tpolen More than 1 year ago
This book format was unlike anything I've ever read - the story was told through letters, diary entries, video footage, dream journals - and although some readers may find that distracting or hard to follow, I thought it was fun and welcomed something new. There's just no way you can't like A. and Niamh. A. (his full name was never given) had a great sense of humor and I really liked the straightforward, no-nonsense and yet charming way he dealt with people. Niamh was quirky, opinionated, and usually the most intelligent person in the room. Their interactions with each other had me laughing out loud more than once. The fact that they named their dog Help so he would come and lend aid if they needed help was just hilarious - and kind of smart. I admit I skimmed through some of the pages on code breaking - seemed like a lot of in-depth information that wasn't critical to understanding the story, but the rest of the book had me completely engrossed from the first page. I enjoyed the intriguing premise, the mystery, vivid dream sequences, plot twists, challenging puzzles, surprise ending - this book was just a pleasure to read. If you're looking for something different that will entertain, test your intelligence, and creep you out a little, The Supernatural Enhancements won't disappoint. This review is based on a digital copy from the publisher through NetGalley.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story feels like the House of Leaves without the visual distractions on the page. For fans of Lovecraft and secret societies and conspiracy. I am rarely surprised at the end of a book but I was delighted to be shocked at the end of this one!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story that builds to a suspense filled read-as-fast-as- you -can ending. Nothing prepared me for the ending, yet the ending fit perfectly. To describe the book would be to tell you too much. To me it reads like a gothic victorian lovecraftian horror novel set in recent times. Read it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was okay. Not very exciting. I felt like the story lost its potential depth through the video/journal entry/letter writing mode of storytelling.
BrandieC More than 1 year ago
I don't know why, but it seems that a lot of the novels I have read recently have not used a traditional structure. Instead, narratives have taken the form of letters, journal entries, interviews, and video transcripts. In some cases, such as with Siri Hustvedt's The Blazing World, this approach has been distancing, depriving the reader of a personal connection with the main character. In the case of Edgar Cantero's The Supernatural Enhancements, however, this technique adds vitality and immediacy to the story. At bottom, The Supernatural Enhancements is the book version of the TV show Ghost Hunters, and it's great fun. Cantero has drawn his title from Edith Wharton's short story "Afterward," in which a pair of American romantics acquire a traditional English manor house hoping for a resident ghost, only to subsequently conclude that "Lyng was one of the few houses good enough in itself to dispense with supernatural enhancements." Fans of Gothic literature will be pleased to discover that, despite this allusion, Cantero's tale is full of supernatural enhancements, making it a perfect Halloween read. I received a free copy of The Supernatural Enhancements through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I finished it, but a lot of unanswered questions, which may be intentional. Some of the "background info" was awfully esoteric.
gargirl More than 1 year ago
I love this spooky little book so much it has cemented itself into my collection. Before I’d read 100 pages, the intriguing, unconventional style and haunting story had thoroughly seduced me. It was as if I were under its spell. The story concerns two young characters who travel from Europe to the States to take up residence in what turns out to be a haunted house. Far from the usual ghost story this tale is a puzzle and a mystery that the reader tries to unravel alongside the main characters. Like an unexpected scavenger hunt, complete with codes and ciphers, it’s full of discoveries both delightful and gruesome. Highly recommended to those who love mystery and horror with just a whisper of mythos.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very very good. Loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Totally awesome gothic puzzle novel. The mystery at the heart of the book was really satisfying. Loved it, loved it, loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read!!
beh88 More than 1 year ago
Not at all what I expected.....really good but really strange