Author: Leanna Renee Hieber
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Hardcover, 320 pages
Publication: February 10, 2015 by Tor
Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.
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.
I thought Hieber did an amazing showcasing the plot alternating back and forth between the American and European perspective, especially with the large cast. Readers really get the feeling that they’re transported back to the 1800’s, with Hieber lush descriptions from the scenery down to minuscule detail of the characters’ clothing. It was interesting to see how each group went about their search, and techniques in accomplishing the same goals. While the American team comprised of spiritualists, an occultist and clairvoyant; the European team consisted of a detective, researcher and a couple of circus performers. The eclectic casts certainly shines with their personalities in an otherwise dreary and grim atmosphere of the time, and let’s not forget the abundances of ghosts surrounding them. But in my opinion the characters were the best part of the book, even when character development was lacking. Due to the myriad amount of characters vying for page time and multiple POVs, we didn’t get a lot of background information like other books that have 4-5 main characters.
Overall The Eterna Files was an enjoyable read, and has the potential to be an amazing series (I’m guessing there’s going to be subsequent books with how it ended). The pacing of the book is a bit slow as the author is setting the stage and foundation of her world, but it eventually picked up towards the end of the book with a shocking ending that will have readers begging for a sequel. I can’t wait to see what happens next!