The Supernatural Enhancements

Local Bookseller

I have to thank my local Barnes & Nobel retailer for being so helpful as to recommend this book, The Supernatural Enhancements (by Spanish cartoonist Edgar Cantero), to me.

It was, indeed, a "fun read," as I was promised. Not perfect, but fun. I'll try not to emphasize the author's background as a cartoonist too much, because a lot of the critique I have with the book is that it seemed a little comic-booky - but more on that later.
It is about a young man named simply A. who has just randomly inherited a mansion and fortune from a relative he didn't know existed, meaning that he would have to move from whatever European country he is from to America in order to claim it. He is accompanied by Niamh, a mute 14-year old punk girl - imagine a Doctor & Companion relationship here (Niamh clearly has feelings for A and is sometimes much smarter and aware than he is - has done far more heroic feats than A has, but she has been demoted to some kind of Cutesy-poo Sidekick.) The previous owner of the mansion and fortune died by committing suicide the same way and at the same age as his own father before him. Clearly there is some nefarious mystery to be solved!
Through a series of puzzles, weird dreams, and interviews with locals, A and Niamh (and their dog, alas, not named Scooby-Doo, but far more cleverly, "Help") try to figure out the secrets of the house and it's late inhabitant. The Supernatural Enhancements is a novel told almost entirely through transcriptions of surveillance videos, letters, diary entries and the like. Your brain adjusts to it after a while - I had trouble deciding if the narrator was reliable or not at first as I was hoping that this book was going to be like House of Leaves, but different. Maybe Cantero was inspired by House of Leaves, but there weren't very many similarities.
I'm sure the author was trying a lot of neat new tricks while writing this novel, because it's format doesn't seem conventional - unless you've read a graphic novel script. I don't think it was entirely successful - it took the entire first half of the book for anything to fall into place and make any kind of sense. It just seemed like two bored kids trying to be spooked about living in a haunted house. See, even though there's a ghost, it's really more of a scape-ghost: she doesn't actually do anything. The sad thing about it is that Cantero can write some beautiful prose when he puts his mind to it and you can read all of the dream sequences in the book as proof of that. He does it in such a way that only an artist can. Not many writers can successfully pull off writing a dream that you can see, feel, taste and smell without questioning their sobriety.

It was all very fun. The 90's pop culture references were fun. As mentioned, A. and Niamh were like the Scooby Gang, but unimpressed, and that was fun. The concept and format was fun. World building was fun. The story was tedious, but then Things Got Real, and that was fun.
So on a scale of one star to five stars, it was a grand sum of fun stars.

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