It was the end of the 19th century, a time of floating air ships and great advances in science. In Victorian London a man known as The Professor is conducting an experiment with electro-magnetic energy at the Oxford Academy of Science. An explosion occurs causing twenty percent of the Earth’s population to acquire strange paranormal abilities. These people are called Espers, they all have different powers and don’t always use them for good. In order to help Espers control their powers and stop others from abusing theirs, an institute has been set up by The Professor.
Nathan and James, two Espers from the institute have to team up with a young girl named Freya who is just discovering what she is. Their mission is to save Freya’s brother from The evil Barron. His evil plan is to kidnap Espers and create an army of super powered soldiers with the goal of taking over the world.
When I first heard of Esper Files by Egan Brass I thought it sounded like Marvel’s X Men with a different setting. Being a comic fan I couldn’t wait to start reading it. At first I thought it was an ok book but things got interesting when we are introduced to Freya, an orphan girl with ice powers and her younger brother Cyrus who is an autistic boy referred to as The Siren.
The Siren has the ability to manipulate emotions through singing and the only person he talks to is his sister. Freya and Cyrus have gone through a series of foster homes and neither one understands the power they have. Freya and Cyrus have a heartbreaking story and I felt for Freya as you see how protective she is of her brother and how horrible and alone she feels when she uses her powers. My favorite scene was when three harpies and a henchman named Shadow storm the home where Freya and Cyrus live. This was an emotionally charged scene that is horrifying and exciting. Another great scene is when Nathan tells her that she is an Esper and she gets upset saying ‘I’m nothing like you freaks.” This scene showed that even the Espers themselves have a hard time accepting that they are different.
There aren’t many books out there with an autistic hero and I loved the way Cyrus is portrayed. At first he doesn’t show much emotion but as the story moves along we see that he is more aware of the world around him then anyone thinks and is also more powerful. This book is a fun ride, my only complaints were that we were introduced to quite a few characters in the Barron’s compound but not many in the Professor’s Institute. At one point I wondered why there weren’t more students training there.
To put it simply if you are a fan of comic books you will love Esper Files. Egan Brass is creating his own superhero mythology in a a steampunk setting with unique characters and lots of action. The idea behind it is not an original one but the setting and detail put into the characters makes this a fresh spin on an old idea. There are some good potential stories in the Esper’s universe and I’m happy to see that a second book coming in January.