Just after Lincoln’s death, a young psychic impulsively suggests that men like him should live forever. A grieving Mary Lincoln grabs at the idea and the Eterna Project is born. Soon, parallel teams in America and England are competing to uncover the secret to immortality, using a combination of scientific and mystical methods. Unfortunately, the American team disappears at about the same time that the English team dies in bizarre circumstances. Each country suspects the other and devotes time and resources to spying. In England, a reluctant policeman is pulled off his investigation of a macabre ring of child and corpse trafficking to head a new team of scientists and psychics in the study. In America, the grieving founders of the original group struggle to figure out what happened and how to build their own new team.
The parallel teams concept is a sound one though there are times when the teams are a bit too parallel: Despite the addition of a colorful psychic and a policeman to one team and a quiet war veteran to the other, the team members somehow fail to stand out distinctively from one another across the pond; the two major women characters, particularly, are very similar—which may have significance in future books but as yet is simply puzzling. The net result was that it was hard to remember which team was which. Each scene change meant a moment of mental scrambling to recall whether this meant England or America.
The plot itself is strong: Leanna Renee Hieber has written a modern Gothic novel, complete with ghosts, mysterious happenings, murder, and plenty of atmosphere—there may not be any castles, but there are strange symbols, flickering lights, and moonlight nights aplenty. She has a good grasp of the genre and writes a tense set of intertwined mysteries.
The Eterna Files is much more the first part of a longer book than it is the first book in a series: It ends on a cliffhanger with very little resolved; there are two further books coming out later to resolve matters.
The Eterna Files comes out February 3, 2015 from Tor Books. To order from Amazon, click the link in the title. In the meantime, you may also want to visit for news on her upcoming books and lists of her past series.