If you've been reading this blog for the last several years, you know that I've read a lot of books. So it's always a pleasure for me to read something that's not quite like anything I've read before. Leanna Renee Hieber's THE ETERNA FILES is just such a book.
It begins just after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, when Clara Templeton, a young girl with psychic gifts, tries to comfort the grieving Mrs. Lincoln (who was very into spiritualism in real life) and instead inspires the widow to charge the government with finding a way to keep such a thing from ever happening to another US President. To find, if you will, a cure for death.
The story then jumps ahead several years and it seems that Queen Victoria has gotten wind of the Eterna project and she has no intention of letting America discover the secret of immortality before Great Britain. She has her own organization and agents, setting up a 'grand game' between the UK and the US. As the book gets started, things have taken a deadly turn as the members of the US team have been killed in strange circumstances, leaving Clara reeling and searching for answers.
I won't tell you any more of the plot, because you need to witness it unfolding. The story leaps back and forth between New York and London as various characters are introduced. There are ghosts and murders and kidnappings and dark magic, and all kinds of other Gothic goings on.
Leanna Renee Hieber's prose is well wrought and seductive and her knowledge of the Victorian era is formidable. I learned quite a bit reading the book, which always makes me happy. I recently had the pleasure of being on several panels with the lady at a convention, and I was very impressed with her knowledge, particularly of Victorian Era spiritualism and how the rights of women were affected by the movement.
THE ETERNA FILES is a darkly Gothic concoction, mixing mystery, horror, and romance. As I noted, this is my first book by Leanna, but it won't be my last. She has several series and she mentioned on one of the panels that they are all interconnected. This is the first volume in a brand new series and well worth your time.