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Monday, 23 February 2015
The Eterna Files
The Eterna Files
Rating: 4/5 (2/5 if there is no second book and this is a standalone, see the end of the review for why)
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher
London 1882: Harold Spire of the Metropolitan Police has just passed his test, and is newly appointed by Queen Victoria herself to Special Branch Omega Division. Omega's purpose is to investigate the paranormal and supernatural, whether people or events, secretly of course. Spire is skeptical of all things magical, paranormal and so on and with his desire to help people he's the perfect leader of the division. You see these aren't ordinary people, no the division is made up of spies, assassins, con men, scholars, scientists and a travelling circus.
Their mission is to find the Eterna Compound, which grants immortality, and was dreamed up by Clara Templeton following the assassination of President Lincoln. But in the process of developing the compound, the hidden laboratory in New York was destroyed, and all working on it perished. Or did they? There's one who survived and the Queen is convinced the survivor has a sample of the compound and wants it attained at any cost. Even relations between the two countries.
Clara Templeton and her group are also searching for the compound and answers about what happened in the laboratory. Determined not to see the compound fall in to British hands, as none can understand what happened to America in the wake of the assassination. Luckily her lover is haunting her and his brother, and can offer them a helping hand then isn't it?
This book draws you in from the prologue with the assassination and how things got started, from that point I couldn't put it down and was utterly engrossed. The book is original, and set firmly in the Victorian era with a supernatural twist. It had a very nice gothic atmosphere which I particularly enjoyed.
I found myself chuckling along at certain parts of the book, and it was so fantastically written you got a feeling of the time and locations. Both of them. You see we switch between England and New York, and between characters and points of view smoothly to get a better picture of what's going on in both countries. Each narrative being engaging and actually adding something to the story. It was reminiscent of the space race to be honest, with how both teams in England and New York where searching for this cure for death (that's ominous enough) and both determined the other shouldn't have it, or both determined to be the first to it, you know, and it was a bit silly, cos like I said....cure for death, but nevertheless fascinating and entertaining and at times frustrating to read.
The characters all came to life from the page, and where well written. I particularly liked Clara and I found myself enjoying her chapters more than Spire's to be honest. I felt like quite the traitor to my own country preferring the American chapters. The plot was fairly complex and was full of intrigue as you try to work out what's going on along with the characters. However the plot also provided a problem which I'll come back to in a minute.
This was hard to rate however, and I have outlined the good things about the book, I want to give it four stars and I will, but there where points when I got a bit bored with the book and the constant descriptions of corsets and how crap it was for women, we know, we all know, there's no need to come up with new ways to highlight the issue every chapter, and at points it was quite jarring.
The biggest problem with this book is however, also the plot. That doesn't make sense, I hear you all cry, but bare with me. You see, for how long the book is....not much happens, but a lot does happen, it's very contradictory, you see there's clearly something more going on, and the English and the Americans are oblivious, so not much happens on that front because the English don't decide to go over to the US to sort their shit out until the end of the book.
And the end of the book is a problem. NOW. This has four stars because I am assuming that there is going to be another book. If there is not another book, I shall amend this to a much lower rating of either 2 or 3 stars.
A bit harsh, you may think, but let me explain. The book ends. Just like that. The English plan to go over to the US, nothing's really solved, and Clara has passed out with a load of ghosts screaming bloody murder. That's it. The book ends there, which is why overall, while a lot happens in the book, it ends up feeling like not a lot or rather not enough happened in the book, and it essentially feels like half a book. Now if there's a second book...no problem, in which case it's a fantastic ending because it's the ultimate cliffhanger, you're desperate for more, frantically clicking at your Kindle until you realise that's really it, and desperate for the next book.
If there is no second book then it's a very abrupt and kind of crappy ending. There's too many questions left unanswered, there's not enough resolution and it's incredibly frustrating because like I said, it feels like you read half of a book. The book literally ends mid climax and that is not okay, not because of like...feels and stuff, but it really isn't a great ending to such a fantastic book.
So yes, my review is contradictory and makes little sense, and is liable to change depending on what new information I receive after doing some digging. Apologies, but this book was right up my street, and was fantastically written and had so much good going on with it, but the ending lets it down tremendously if this is a stand alone book.