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The Supernatural Enhancements Paperback – July 21, 2015
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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“The kinetic action of a graphic novel wrapped up in a literary thriller.”
—The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg)
“A clever and engrossing horror-thriller mash-up that delivers genuine scares.”
“A wonderful, enthralling book. . . . One of those rare literary creations that shortens the long hours of night. You emerge from its pages at sunrise, suddenly aware that you’ve spent the whole night reading. Few authors create such books. Edgar Cantero does it gracefully.”
—Jason Mott, bestselling author of The Returned
“A spectacular debut novel. . . . Cantero’s fresh, original prose style and the steady flow of twists, turns, and code breaking will have mystery, thriller, and supernatural fans glued to their seats until they reach the electrifying conclusion.”
—Library Journal (starred review)
“Eerie, puckish, and full of surprises. . . . Cantero pays homage to Bram Stoker and H. P. Lovecraft and The Shining, but he’s no less enamored of The X-Files, fax machines, and punk girls with dreads. The result is a propulsive, beguiling novel that is as easy to get swept up in as it is hard to describe.”
—Justin Taylor, author of Flings
“Quirky in presentation and good fun throughout, Cantero’s yarn pleases at every turn.”
“A fun and addictive read.”
“Cantero sets the novel up to be one type of mystery and then he lets other mysteries float into the story. It’s not that he invalidates earlier mysteries . . . but rather he makes them no longer as important because this next one is crazy!”
About the Author
Edgar Cantero is a writer and cartoonist from Barcelona working in Catalan, Spanish and English. He was born in 1981.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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They read strange letters, they research a host of secret codes, they uncover evidence of a secret society that meets at the house every year for unknown purposes, and they search for Axton House's mysteriously vanished butler. And they discover so many unusual, cryptic facts about the mansion.
The previous owner of the house -- Ambrose Wells, A.’s mysterious cousin -- committed suicide by throwing himself out a window -- and at the very same age and from the very same window as his own father had committed suicide. Wells maintained secret, coded correspondence with a number of unknown people, and A. soon becomes obsessed with decoding the secrets of Wells’ secret society, and he begins having a number of vivid, bizarre, frightening dreams. At the same time, it becomes clear that Axton House is haunted, which is just one more thing messing with A.’s rapidly fraying sanity.
It finally gets to be too much, and A. prepares to throw himself from the fateful window -- but the pair eventually discover the cause of A.'s dreams: a large glass orb which, when touched, causes visions of a group of mysterious persons -- some mundane, some terrifying, some exhibiting amazing abilities, and some very clearly not really human. Will A. and Niamh ever unravel the mysteries of Axton House? What is the bizarre secret behind the crystal orbs? And what horrors await them when the Society joins together at the Winter Solstice?
This one drew me in because I've got a serious weakness for turn-of-the-century ghost stories, and the descriptions of the story had all the hallmarks of a great haunted house tale. And though it does start out looking like an old-school ghost story, it soon turns into a mystery -- with a strong emphasis on obscure codes and cryptography -- and finally morphs into an occult action adventure thriller. And I don't think of this as a weakness of the book -- the genre-jumping helps keep it readable, even when a few pages are devoted to exposition and even academic discussions of old codes.
It's a wonderfully readable book -- the chapters mostly consists of short snippets from notebooks, video logs, diaries, and suchlike, which means you shoot through the narrative much faster than the pagecount would have you expecting. And it's hard to quit reading when you know every few pages could reveal some new mystery or unveil something you never expected.
There’s a lot to be said for how great the characters are -- A. makes an excellent protagonist, and the all-too-brief visits with Ambrose Wells’ butler and with the Society members are wonderful. Even Help, the dog, is a joy in every scene he’s in.
But the best character, the one that guarantees that this book gets my recommendation, is Niamh. She has more pure personality than everyone else in the novel put together. Her inability to speak doesn’t keep us from learning more about her, thanks to her ever-present notebooks, as well as A.’s descriptions of her. She’s got twice A.’s brains, ten times his charm, and 100 times his courage. And she has her own facial expression named after her -- the nive. She’s a hilarious badass wrapped up in a perky punk package, and she’s one of my favorite fictional characters ever.
If you get this book, try to look for the version with the amazing cover by Michael J. Windsor -- it's a gorgeous black-and-white jacket featuring the mansion, an intricate fence surrounding the property, and a gigantic eye over everything. True, it won't make any difference to the text between the covers, but it's a beautiful piece of artwork to hold in your hands.
If you love supernatural mysteries, thrills, and adventure -- along with a number of excellent characters -- you’ll definitely want to pick this one up.
In all, I have to say that one of the things that fascinated me the most was that there were multiple layers to this story. You have the first layer, which at first glance appears to be about two people who travel to Virginia to collect an inheritance but are instead drawn into a strange, surreal mystery. However partway through the book you find another layer: the story about our two main characters, A and Niamh, a 20-something year old and a teenager that are fighting a mutual attraction. This might at first seem like it's part of the first story, except that you can tell that there's an entire backstory between them that is only briefly alluded to in the novel. Then there's the final layer, the truth of the matter. Very few of the characters are entirely who they claim to be and the story behind all of *that* is hinted at but never fully revealed. Then on top of all of this, all of these layers are mixed together until you can't entirely tell what's what.
If any of that sounds confusing well... it is confusing. You can enjoy this as a straightforward read if you really want, as you can still read this and entirely enjoy yourself. Some of the more front and center mysteries are solved, so there is a resolution here for the most part. However at the same time there's so much beautiful subtext here that to just ignore the other layers in favor of having a neatly tied up story is a bit of a shame.
That said, if you're looking for a book with layers (like a certain ogre) then you're in for a treat here. The beauty of this book is that it can ultimately be what you want it to be when it comes to the unresolved plot issues, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I also have to admit that I'd really love to see a big screen adaptation of this, since the book's layout would lend itself exceedingly well to film.