It’s time for a new release from my favorite author, Leanna Renee Hieber! If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you know that I’ve been following the Eterna Files series almost since its inception when I reviewed The Eterna Files nearly two years ago. I followed that review up with one for the second book, Eterna and Omega, when it came out last August. And now, I’m here again to give you the goods on the third and final installment of the series, The Eterna Solution. The book comes out tomorrow, November 14. As usual, if you’re local to the New York area, you can come celebrate the release at the Morris-Jumel Mansion in upper Manhattan. Join us at 6:30 on Friday, November 17, for a reading and signing by the author, along with a costume contest, an exhibit of elegant accessories by Wormwood & Gall, and some light refreshments.
Eterna Files is a series that adds some Victorian paranormal fantasy to an international spy thriller with splashes of mystery and romance. In the first book, the American Eterna Commission and their British counterparts, the Omega team, find that their search for immortality leads instead to the discovery of an evil society using corrupted research to spread violence and chaos across the two countries. In the second book, Eterna and Omega reluctantly learn to work together to fight against this international organization of evil. Now in the third book, the two teams must combine all their strength to defeat the Master’s Society once and for all. The story picks up with the two teams aboard a ship, heading from England back to New York. Once they arrive, they immediately have their hands full trying to dismantle the schemes of a mysterious Lady Celeste who seems to be corrupting Edison’s new electrical grid, as well as the country’s railroad system, with dark magic. Following the trail of corrupted magic ultimately leads our protagonists to the nation’s capital, where they must stop the Society’s influence before it can take over America at the highest levels of power.
One of my favorite aspects of this book was the romance. Out of all of Leanna’s books, the Eterna Files series is the one least heavy on romantic love, but it just wouldn’t be a Hieber story without some happy endings. Over the course of The Eterna Solution, the two main romantic relationships that have been hinted at since the beginning of the series slowly bubble to the surface. Now that Clara Templeton has let go of her former lover’s ghost and begun to move on, she can finally admit her feelings for her guardian, Senator Bishop. Though the two are hesitant to move too quickly and risk ruining the close bond they’ve already built, they learn to open up to each other and allow their relationship to grow and change. The other two corners of their magical compass, Rose Everhart and Harold Spire, are a bit less expressive of their growing feelings for each other, but that just makes the rare special moments between the two of them even more poignant. But the best part of the book is the wedding! It’s not much of a spoiler to say that a pair of side characters who have been engaged since book one finally tie the knot in a giant Gothic extravaganza. Yes, I was taking notes for my own eventual Big Day, though I’ll try to avoid the part where the wedding is almost ruined by Summoned spirits!
One other notable feature of this book is its villain, Lady Celeste. In traditional Gothic literature, female villains tend to be femme fatales, aggressive and deviant in their sexuality and mostly a danger to the male protagonists. At first it appears that Lady Celeste will fit this vein. She’s a beautiful actress who uses her looks to gain access to power, and who was romantically involved with the last book’s villain, Moriel. But Celeste’s sexuality isn’t what makes her evil, and it certainly isn’t the focus of her character. Instead of following old genre stereotypes, Celeste has a fleshed-out background and fascinating motivations. She serves mainly as a foil to Clara, the central heroine of the story. Like Clara, Celeste seems to have shown significant natural ability as a Sensitive. However, while Clara learns in this book to draw on ley lines for strength and gains an appreciation for flower magic, Celeste has found that nature-based magic won’t answer to her, and turns to unnatural, corrupted magic as her only means of gaining power. Both characters chafe against Victorian limitations on women, though Celeste ultimately uses such social norms to her advantage by working through male puppets while feigning innocence and forcing her enemies to split up when their investigation brings them to political spheres that women aren’t allowed to enter. And in the end, she does more damage to the female protagonists than to the men. Fittingly, her main confrontation is with Clara, as the two pit their magic against each other in a battle of psychic strength and will.
If you want to know more, go pick up a copy for yourself! Tomorrow, The Eterna Solution hits the shelves of your local bookstore. You can also order a copy online from an independent bookstore and support The Gothic Library in the process by clicking the affiliate link below: