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The Supernaturalist    by Eoin Colfer order for
by Eoin Colfer
Order:  USA  Can
Hyperion, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Audio, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Eoin Colfer paints a bleak future in The Supernaturalist. It all starts in Satellite City which has 'Everything the body wanted, and nothing the soul needed.' The story's 14-year-old hero, Cosmo Hill, 'parentally challenged' and a 'no-sponsor', is relegated to a future orphanage that's worse than Dicken's darkest nightmare. Since the institute's specialty is 'product testing', the average life expectancy of the guinea pig orphans is fifteen years. Cosmo is close to the wire and has to get out before he's tested to death.

Luck is a big factor when he does finally escape, as is the help of the 'Supernaturalists', young subversives with the ability to see 'Parasites'. These are 'blue creatures with electricity in their veins' who are attracted to pain and injury. Stefan, Mona and Ditto (who is older and much more than he seems) save Cosmo once they discover he's also a 'Spotter'. Once recovered, Cosmo joins the others on death-defying missions to take out Parasites, whose numbers seem to be growing exponentially. Along the way, they come up against gangs, and SWAT teams of lawyers and paralegals - the latter are 'a three-way cross between lawyers, paratroopers and pit bulls'.

There's a big multinational, Myishi, with its own agenda and infinite resources. Turns out that the Myishi president of Developmental Projects, Ellen Faustino, is an old tutor of Stefan's and was a friend of his dead mother's. Ellie helps the Supernaturalists and assigns them a covert role in the Parasites' destruction. This leads to space adventure. It soon becomes clear that everything is not as it seems, and there's a betrayal around every thrilling corner. As the book ends we hear one of the gang say 'the Supernaturalists' work is far from over' - good news since it means we can look forward to a sequel!

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