Leanna Renee Hieber’s The Eterna Files is an alternate history fantasy set at the end of the 19th Century. Following her husband’s assassination, Mary Todd Lincoln created a secret branch of government tasked with finding immortality. Almost twenty years later, the eclectic group of scientists, spiritualists, and mediums made a breakthrough—the so-called ‘Eterna Compound,’ but then everything went horribly wrong. Their laboratory is destroyed in mysterious circumstances and someone escapes with the only known sample of the compound. Clara Templeton, one of the original members of the project is determined to recover it and make sure it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
Across the pond, Queen Victoria has also heard the rumors. She assigns Harold Spire of the Metropolitan Police and Special Branch Division Omega to recover the Eterna Compound. Immortality is the greatest discovery of all time and it must be controlled by Her Majesty’s Government, not the Americans or anyone else. Spire and Omega’s chief researcher, Rose Everhart, race Clara to the compound as they all slowly become aware that there is a deeper game at work.
The Eterna Files is a fast-moving Victorian adventure story filled with period flourishes that are lovingly ridiculous and occasionally just ridiculous. I am found of this period, and Hieber clearly is as well. The supernatural cold war between England and the United States over immortality is a deliciously pulp idea and the attention to international relations is uncommon enough to feel fresh. Unfortunately the characters are less original. Clara Templeton and Rose Everhart are both introduced well. Clara is given a personal connection to the mystery and the deeper supernatural threads than any of the other characters, but she never quite comes off the page. This was a very light novel that gestured at different ideas, but never delve beneath the surface, partly because this is the first in a series and the novel ends on a definite cliffhanger and the sense that the interesting parts haven’t even started yet.
The Eterna Files can be found here on Amazon.
Received a Copy From NetGalley For Review