Release Date: August 9, 2016
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Gaslamp Fantasy
Battle is joined as British and American paranormal investigators clash in an exciting gaslamp fantasy. Leanna Renee Hieber's gaslamp fantasy series continues and the action ramps up in Eterna and Omega. In New York City, fearing the dangers of the Eterna Compound--supposedly the key to immortality--Clara Templeton buries information vital to its creation. The ghost of her clandestine lover is desperate to tell her she is wrong, but though she is a clairvoyant, she cannot hear him.
In London, Harold Spire plans to send his team of assassins, magicians, mediums, and other rogue talents to New York City, in an attempt to obtain Eterna for Her Royal Majesty, Queen Victoria. He stays behind to help Scotland Yard track down a network of body snatchers and occultists, but he'll miss his second-in-command, Rose Everhart, whose gentle exterior masks a steel spine.
Rose's skepticism about the supernatural has been shattered since she joined Spire's Omega Branch. Meeting Clara is like looking into a strange mirror: both women are orphans, each is concealing a paranormal ability, and each has a powerful and attractive guardian who has secrets of his own.
The hidden occult power that menaces both England and America continues to grow. Far from being dangerous, Eterna may hold the key to humanity's salvation.
I have to admit, I have to check My notes and review for The Eterna Files before diving to ETERNA AND OMEGA. If you're following the series, you'll remember that book 1 ended on a cliffhanger. Rest easy because this one picks up where Clara last left us.
I love the duality of the story as both the Eterna and Omega teams are at odds and sort of painting the other as the villain depending on whose POV you look at. That said, I love how Heiber cleverly made The Queen out to be the real antagonist. ETERNA AND OMEGA is plot driven, there's a lot of covert operations happening in the background, lots of ghostly encounters and not much action.
I personally prefer a faster paced story by making more character driven. That said, I still enjoyed Heiber's gaslamp fantasy. It's full of intrigue with a lot of cool scenes. Heiber's narrative captured my imagination, though I hate ghosts and all types of haunting, I was totally digging the setting.
Gaslamp Fantasy is a modern subgenre term that helps readers have a greater understanding of just what kind of Historical Fantasy they're about to enjoy. Gaslamp Fantasy refers to fantastical fiction set in the gas-lit and atmospheric era of the 19th century, and helps to delineate the genre as a cousin to Steampunk. While Steampunk is a modern term for fiction set in a steam-powered 19th Century that relies on Science Fiction tropes and technological elements (like airships, steam-powered computers or automatons, etc) to flesh out an alternate kind of history, Gaslamp Fantasy is driven by conventions known to Fantasy readers: magic, prophecies, mythological and fantastic beings, paranormal aspects, talismans, spells, etc. While each genre has wonderful layers of detail and complex world-building to their credit, full of endless invention and possibility, my mind as an artist has always tended towards the ghostly, the gaslit, the Gothic and the wildly fantastic. Gaslamp Fantasy is not only my day job, it's my way of life, in how I dress, see the world and express myself on a daily basis.
My three Gaslamp Fantasy series, Strangely Beautiful, Magic Most Foul and THE ETERNA FILES, my newest being new releases in both Strangely Beautiful and THE ETERNA FILES series with ETERNA AND OMEGA now available, are all crossover worlds with crossover characters that serve to bring out complex aspects of these genre tropes and demonstrate the wide range of what is possible in the genre. Crossover and parallel worlds are not a requisite for Gaslamp Fantasy by any means, but it has been a delight to weave my dark and imaginative settings all together and play the characters and themes off one another.
I also find that in looking to the late 19th century, the parallels to today are startling. The Victorian era was a time of shifting class systems, the growing pains of civil rights issues, a wide gap between the wealthy and poor, a time when robber-barons were running companies that chose corporate interests over human lives, a time of pollution, innovation, fear, restriction, racism, sexism, uncertainty, pride and exceptionalism. It was also a time of great beauty, sensuality, romanticism, imagination, dicovery, exquisite and lavish fashion, rich decor, and mechanization. It was a time fraught with conflict, grit and grandeur, and the Jekyll and Hyde nature of the era is a ceaseless source of inspiration for me.
I personally infuse elements of the new Gothic- with a genre term I helped coin called "Dreadpunk"- taking the old-school 18th and 19th century tropes of the Gothic novel and reinventing them for a modern audience; more empowered female characters, undercurrents of modern issues and pacing. Dreadpunk is meant to focus on what makes the Gothic so titillating and irresistable: dread. The psychological suspense aspect inherent to the Gothic, a genre where beauty and terror are a dangerous hair's breadth apart from each other, a state of extremes and pushed boundaries, is the pounding heartbeat of the genre and I infuse this neo-Gothic quality into my Gaslamp Fantasy setting, a perfect match meant to go together like a heady red wine and a fine dark chocolate. The Gothic addresses the stark contrasts of the Victorian era in passionate, intense detail.
Why readers should enjoy Gaslamp Fantasy is that it has all the hallmarks of a secondary world appealing too any Fantasy reader, as the past is a fascinating, rich world in and of itself, while still embracing fantastical elements, gifts, powers, tropes, conventions and plots. As I write Gaslamp Fantasy set in a realistic Victorian world in which paranormal/fantastical things happen, the genre can be twice the escapism, offering readers the chance to learn some historical facts, settings and realities while having fantastical fun. I am interested in reclaiming the Gothic, Historical and Fantasy tropes in allowing for several female-forward narratives within a rich, diverse world where all characters are colorful, nuanced and allowed the full breadth of human (or ghostly) possibility.
Did I mention Gaslamp Fantasy is a great place for ghost stories? I feature several in each of my series. The 19th century in some regards could be seen as one long seance... Come along for the ride!
Cheers and happy haunting!
Leanna Renee Hieber
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