Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Early Review: The Eterna Files by Leanna Renee Hieber

The Eterna Files
Leanna Renee Hieber
Release: Feb. 10, 2015
Links: Goodreads Amazon
Summary: London, 1882: Queen Victoria appoints Harold Spire of the Metropolitan Police to Special Branch Division Omega. Omega is to secretly investigate paranormal and supernatural events and persons. Spire, a skeptic driven to protect the helpless and see justice done, is the perfect man to lead the department, which employs scholars and scientists, assassins and con men, and a traveling circus. Spire's chief researcher is Rose Everhart, who believes fervently that there is more to the world than can be seen by mortal eyes.

Their first mission: find the Eterna Compound, which grants immortality. Catastrophe destroyed the hidden laboratory in New York City where Eterna was developed, but the Queen is convinced someone escaped—and has a sample of Eterna.

Also searching for Eterna is an American, Clara Templeton, who helped start the project after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln nearly destroyed her nation. Haunted by the ghost of her beloved, she is determined that the Eterna Compound—and the immortality it will convey—will be controlled by the United States, not Great Britain
Review: In the aftermath of President Lincoln’s assassination, a young clairvoyant inspired the grieving First Lady to create a covert organization that would find the secret to immortality. Years later, the Eterna Commission members, scientists and occultists working in their laboratory in New York, disappear. That same clairvoyant, Clara Templeton, and her team work to discover what happened to the scientists and whether their research should be continued.

At the same time, the London scientists trying to duplicate the Americans’ research also disappear. The Queen assigns Detective Harold Spires to find not the missing scientists, but the research, and to assemble a new group to continue the work. He resents being ordered from his current murder case, but as he continues to quietly investigate, he finds some connections between his old job and his new one. His primary role as head of the Omega group however, is spy master, collecting information about the American team and trying to locate their files.

Spires’ team is an odd assortment of characters. His right hand woman, Rose Everheart is a researcher and code breaker. They also hire a pair of circus performers, a psychic and a ringmaster/magician, and a pair of infamous spies. His liaison to the Queen is Lord Black, who has a long history with Rose.

I thought it was interesting how differently the Americans’ approach essentially the same task. Their team is almost entirely made up of people with psychic gifts. Clara’s guardian Senator Bishop is also a medium. Her partner Franklin is gifted in psychometry and their receptionist is a sort of empath. They are able to visit the lab where their team disappeared and discern most of what happened to them right away. Though finding the actual cause and locating the files takes a lot longer.

The groups are also similar in ways other than just their goals. Both Rose and Clara address sexism in their workplace and racism in their society, which helps to remind the reader of the nineteenth century setting, as does talk about new technology like the telegraph and electricity.

I was probably two-thirds of the way through the book before I really felt invested in the story. The writing is dense, which I think adds to the period feel, but also makes me really have to concentrate on what I’m reading. The chapters alternate between London and New York and include several characters’ POVs within each. I think having so many sides, characters and points of view to keep track of made it take a long time before I had enough information to really know what was happening.

Even though the initial mystery of what happened to the missing scientists is solved, I felt like nothing was resolved at the end of the book. It left me completely unsatisfied. The cliffhanger makes it obvious that more books in the series are planned, but it ended just when I was starting to feel invested.

The Eterna Files is one of those genre-benders that I normally love. Though it's similar, it's not really Steampunk - no gadgets or monsters - but maybe a magical historical. Once I got into it, it was fascinating. I think it just tries to do a little too much.

Recommended for fans of: Historical fiction and magical mysteries

ARC provided by the publisher


1 comment:

  1. I think that the story will get better as it progresses since I've enjoyed her other books. I agree with you about that ending!!


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