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March 7, 2015

Liked It: Eterna Files by Leanna Renee Hieber

Series: The Eterna Files 1
Format: eGalley
Release Date: February 10, 2015
Publisher: Tor Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Gaslamp Fantasy

Welcome to The Eterna Files, written by Leanna Renee Hieber, “the brightest new star in literature”(True-Blood.net)

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.




Here's the thing. Some of my gracious bloggy friends have already reviewed ETERNA FILES, Leanna Renee Hieber's bi-coastal gas lamp fantasy, and have set my expectations. The good part about it is I've been forewarned by this novel's flaws and all so I had my expectations set low coming in. It might have spoiled my expectations but as I am most curious about LRHieber's latest release, it made reading ETERNA FILES somewhat easier, and though I found it enjoyable for the most part, I have to agree with previous observations with regards to the novel's opportunites for improvement. Let me start with the pro's.

I'm here to tell you that a great storm is coming. It will break across two continents; two great cities, the hearts of emptires. Your team is gone and storsm are coming. Weather them, find special souls and shielf them. Second-guess your enemy. Find te missing link between the lives you see. Do this for yourself. And for your country.


Pros
ETERNA FILES has a wonderful premise: find a cure for death. And the set-up of the story is like a Victorian cold war between England and America with both parties competing for the coveted elixir of life. Two teams are vying for it, playing paranormal spy games to one-up the other. What they don't realize is there is another player involved, hidden in the shadows, and this person or entity might just be the one responsible for the death of the Eterna's team of researchers. So the question is, what advances has Eterna made? How did those people die, leaving only a heap of ashes in their wake? Where does America and England fit in in the greater scheme of themes? Should they be allies or remain enemies?

LRHieber is a great writer! I love her prose, it's romantic, detail oriented, atmospheric, and very intelligent. Writing a story set in different continents is not only ambitious but challenging and I love the rivalry both countries feel. You have to remember, the war between the countries, though long over, is still fresh in each other's minds. England is still hurting from their loss and America is still defensive and protective of their freedom. So between these two emptires, there's a lot of miles getting the story from point A to point B, and the trip was very scenic thanks to her pretty words and fancy descriptions. Two things are happening simultaneously with the same game. It's entertaining to be shuttled back and forth across the pond, getting involved in the case and each of the characters' lives.

You can say that there are 4 lead characters here: Team America is led by Clara Templeton, founder of the Eterna Project, and her mentor, Senator Rupert Bishop; Team Britain is led by Harold Spire, a copper, and Rose Everhart, researcher. They're great heroes, each have distinct traits that makes this novel interesting. And because of the vast setting, there's also a slew of colorful side characters from ghosts to Queen Victoria herself. 


Cons
I didn't mind the drawn out descriptions and narratives as much as my friends did. The fact that it was pretty to me, made reading the string of words pleasurable. My problem was the two ends LRHieber was pulling the same story from didn't converge enough to tie the two plotlines in. Majority of ETERNA FILES was one long build-up for a very tepid climax. 

Next, because the story is HUGE involving an equally big cast of characters, there's not much character development. And because each player has limited facetime with us, it was hard to get invested in them. Sad because I liked a few of them like Rose Everhart; the spies, Mr. and Mrs. Wilson who had to fake their death so they can continue being spies; the debonaire and distinguished, Rupert Bishop, and Clara's assistant whose name I already forgot. 

Also, my questions remained unanswered. What Clara's Eterna team has discovered regarding the "cure" for death remained vague. And they're far from cracking the mystery that killed the team too! This considering the ghost of one member is present which should've shed a LOT of light on what happened that night. Lastly, since the antagonist was already revealed, I wish he got more scenes. You know I do love my villains!


Despite its flaws, ETERNA FILES was still an interesting tale. Its better qualities are strong enough to keep this reader interested in the overarching arc. Now that the stage has been set, I'm hoping the next one (if there is, there's no series title yet or news of a sequel) will be faster paced and more character driven.










32 comments:

  1. I'm glad that you liked it. It would have helped I think if you had read her Strangely Beautiful series and Magic Most Foul series. Some of the characters were from that series. I can see where you had some issues.

    Grace @ Books of Love

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    1. Oh I didn't realize that. Which characters?

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    2. Natalie Stuart was from the Magic Most Foul Series, along with Lord Denbury and The Guard was from the Strangely Beautiful Series.

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  2. Boo for a tepid ending! Sorry the ending sort of ruined this one for you.

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    1. It just didn't feel like it matched the premise and build-up. I guess I got used to big climaxes in fantasy, you know?

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  3. If the second book is better, I'll try that series. But if it's not, I may still consider reading another one of her books, I liked what you said about her writing :)
    PS : I had trouble with Bloglovin this week and tried to follow you on Feedly, let me tell you that Feedly doesn't recognize you ! I don't know if you can do something about it, but I thought you might like to know ?...

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    1. Oh thanks! I don't think I have a Feedly account. I will get to that shortly. Thanks for the feedback!

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  4. I had quite the same feeling about this one. The whole is interesting but I wasn't must into all the parts so in the end it's ok but not really awesome. I'm curious to see if book 2 is better.

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  5. It sounds good ... until it doesn't, lol. Long-winded descriptions, particularly in this context, I can live with, but a tepid climax is where I draw the line. Wonderful review.

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    1. Thanks, Ramona. I guess I got too exited over the elixir of life.

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  6. I had this one on my list since I saw the cover (pre-rlease) but I got a little disappointed after I read some of the reviews and I didn't think it would be something I'd like to read/listen to. I know you liked it, but I'm still not convinced I want to invest my time on this one. I came running to see if you thought different than the rest of the peeps whose reviews I read, but sadly you have the same complaints :( I'll check out your review to the next book and see if the overall feeling for the series change...That happens to me a lot. Dark Fever was just OK for me, and look what happened with the fallowing books..lol
    Thank you Braine!

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    1. That's all right, Ican't blame you. Iwas really hoping I'd enjoyed it more. Most of the dislikes are about how flowery the narrative is and all that. I managed to enjoy that part, it's the subdued action that I had problems with. Like with fantasy, you want things to go up, people bleed, things explode, or something devastating like that. There was a bit but not the high adrenalin chase Iwas expecting.

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  7. Now I need to check what gas lamp fantasy is

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    1. I think this is my first gaslamp fantasy. Or at least the first one that I'm aware of. Very similar to steampunk, just less steam and punk

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  8. Nooo not a cold war with England! This seems interesting, but hope you get another (better) book out of it.

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    1. Well Victoria never really got over Albert so even if the dude was long dead by this time, she still romanticized the whole thing or something like that.

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  9. Yikes. I hate it when you read this reeeally exciting story, and it's a whirlwind of activity kind of plot, then the climax is not even deserving of the term (lol). But seriously, those kinds of books are such a letdown, and I'm sorry this didn't end with the same hype that it seems to have generated in its previous chapters!

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    1. It needed more oomph and more meeting points between the two teams to tie it together. Make the correlation stronger.

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  10. This was one I was excited about and set aside. I am glad you went in knowing about the flaws and pleased to see you still enjoyed it.

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    1. I struggled but I so loved how she pieced her words together. I'm a sucker for pretty proses

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  11. This is a book I was interested in as well, Braine. But after seeing reviews, I wasn't so sure. I'm glad that the good outweighed the bad so that you could enjoy it overall. I saw Grace's comment and think I will start with Hieber's earlier series first. :)

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    1. It can be heavy in some parts and the huge cast was challenging.

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  12. I love the concept and story line of this, it sounds great! However, I think maybe this author isn't for me. I think her stories are good but the style is one I just don't really connect with for some reason. I'm glad you mostly enjoyed this one anyway.

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    1. Thanks for checking it out. I'm hoping the next one will be better now that the necessary introductions ar eout of the way.

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  13. Well at least you were prepared going in. Sometimes I think its worse when your expectations are high and then the book doesnt meet it. Great review.

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    1. Definitely. It does help so one can be leveled somehow. Kept me objective

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  14. The premise does sound great though the massive cast might frustrate me as well

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    1. It's hard to keep up with them and how they're all connected. Took me a while

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  15. It's a shame you didn't think this booked gelled enough, it really sounds great. Nice review!

    Naomi @ Nomi’s Paranormal Palace

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    1. You win some, you lose some. Thanks Naomi!

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  16. I searched for sequel info when I finished this book and found a post from a couple of years back that said she has a 3 book contract for this series. With the way it ended, I would have been pretty upset if there wasn't going to be a 2nd book.

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