Supernatural Enhancements, by Edgar Cantero
I can no longer remember who reviewed this a few weeks ago, and while I tried to look through my RSS feed to find out, I subscribe to too many book blogs for that to work. If it was you, please tell me OK? Like most people, I saw the cover and had to read it. The trouble with that is that I was quite worried that the story would not live up to the cover!
In proper Gothic tradition, this novel purports to be a found collection of documents put into order for the reader. The first page is missing. We read a diary, letter, clues, and--since this is a modern novel, set in 1995--transcripts of recordings and videos.
A., the diarist, is a distant cousin of the recently deceased Ambrose Wells, and has just inherited his old Virginian manor house--complete with ghost and missing butler. A. and his companion, teenaged Niamh, an Irish kid with acquired mutism, explore the clues and puzzles scattered through the house to figure out what secret society has been meeting there, what exactly the members are all on a quest for, and why Uncle Ambrose might have thrown himself out a window. Someone else might be on the track too.
It's pretty fun, but also kind of on the dark side--doesn't seem so at first. The ending is quite unexpected, the mystery pretty strange. You're inclined to think that the two protagonists are going to be aggressively quirky with a capital Q, but they're pretty livable. I'm not going to say it's the greatest novel I've read this year, but I enjoyed it (the end kind of turned me off though). It is somewhat more cheerful and less objectifying than Carlos Ruiz Zafon is inclined to be (this kind of reminds me of that, only it's way more American in feel and not so broodingly Euro.)
I think this is my final RIP read--at least, until Witch Week!