Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw – Review

Cover- Strange Practice

Published: July 25, 2017

Publisher: Orbit

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Dr. Greta Helsing #1

Pages: 400 (Paperback)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Meet Greta Helsing, fast-talking doctor to the undead. Keeping the supernatural community not-alive and well in London has been her family’s specialty for generations.

Greta Helsing inherited the family’s highly specialized, and highly peculiar, medical practice. In her consulting rooms, Dr. Helsing treats the undead for a host of ills – vocal strain in banshees, arthritis in barrow-wights, and entropy in mummies. Although barely making ends meet, this is just the quiet, supernatural-adjacent life Greta’s been groomed for since childhood.

Until a sect of murderous monks emerges, killing human and undead Londoners alike. As terror takes hold of the city, Greta must use her unusual skills to stop the cult if she hopes to save her practice, and her life.

Strange Practice was such a pleasant surprise! I wasn’t sure what kind of quality to expect when I requested it, but the synopsis was far too interesting to pass up. The cover art makes you look twice and better yet, the story inside bundles of somewhat morbid fun.

Greta Helsing is doing what she loves – running her own medical practice in a prestigious location with a unique clientele. You see, Greta doesn’t cater to mere mortal humans like the rest of us, she is doctor to the hidden, inhuman class of London. She creates replacement bones for deteriorating mummies, treats depression in ghouls, patches up sanguivores, and prescribes cough medicine to infernal accountants. Her already unusual everyday life gets turned topsy-turvy when a group of semi-possessed monks begin murdering both human and supernatural people in an attempt to cleanse and destroy London. Much madness ensues and beautiful dry humor shines through even in the most perilous moments.

I absolutely loved the characters and the plot in Strange Practice. The supernatural is present, but in a more reasonable way than I expected it to be. Rather than being gaudy and laughable, the inhuman characters are credulous in behavior, appearance, and how they fit into society. Plus, the fact that they actually need doctors is pretty original in my opinion. Why wouldn’t they? Greta is a fabulous character in her own right, being intelligent, capable, and compassionate, but the secondary characters are absolute gems. Fastitocalon (our infernal accountant) has been a friend of the Helsing family for many years and he seems quite lovable, despite his unsettling powers. Lord Ruthven is a 400-year-old vampire (classic Dracula type) with a penchant for spending and a surprising adeptness with modern technology. Sir Francis Varney is a vampyre (lunar type) who seems to abhor his own monstrousness and is getting somewhat jaded with the whole idea of living. Cranswell is a normal human who happens to be aware of the supernatural and he also works in a museum where recent events have gotten in the way of his first exhibit. These short descriptions give you the most basic insight about the characters, but trust me when I say that they are much more than this!

Strange Practice was the perfect blend of serious plot and dry humor for my tastes and has enough action to keep anyone interested for the duration as it was well-paced and didn’t seem to rush or drag in any noticeable way. I was pleased to find out the second book has a title (Bad Company) and a short excerpt included at the end of Strange Practice, though a release date doesn’t seem to have been announced as of yet. Vivian Shaw is an author I’ll be keeping an eye on because this debut was quite impressive and I don’t want to miss any of her work!


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