cover image The Eterna Files

The Eterna Files

Leanna Renee Hieber. Tor, $24.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7653-3674-3

Hieber (The Double Life of Incorporate Things) kicks off her new Victorian fantasy series with this atmospheric but unfocused cloak-and-dagger affair in which rival agencies search for the cure to death. Following the unfortunate demise of an American team researching the so-called Eterna Compound, which promises immortality, teams from both sides of the Atlantic engage in ethereal espionage and spectral skullduggery. Representing America: psychic Clara Templeton, instrumental in the project’s origins. For England: police officer Harold Spire, newly appointed director of Special Branch: Division Omega. There’s also a motley crew of spies, mediums, and scholars. But as both teams track down leads, a gruesomely ruthless third faction seems ready to beat them to the prize. Hieber takes a leisurely approach to the story: neither primary group ever encounters the other, and a diagram is needed to keep the sprawling cast organized. This initial entry is mostly set-up, leading to a frustrating cliffhanger with very little resolved or explained, but Hieber has a knack for creating authentic Victorian atmosphere and colorful personalities that will keep readers coming back for more. Agent: Nicholas Roman Lewis, The Roman Group (Feb.)