Strange Practice – Vivian Shaw

About the Book

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.

320 pages
Published on July 25, 2017
Published by Orbit
Author’s website
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This book was sent by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

You know, I went into Strange Practice not knowing what to expect. I didn’t read a thing about it, I just thought the title was cool and I opened it up and… well, the book happened.

Strange Practice is a book that really enchanted me from the very first page. It is a completely different creature, and those differences is what made it so completely successful and impossible to put down.

Greta Helsing (recognize that last name, anyone?) inherited her father’s medical practice. It’s not just any medical practice, though. Greta specialized in working on the supernatural creature, specifically the undead. Now, you might be rolling your eyes at that, but really, give this book a shot because it is wonderful. Shaw could have gone any number of ways with this, from campy, to funny, to clever, to whatever else. Instead, she kept it pretty true to life – or as much as it can be when you’re talking about vampires and etc.

Greta is a character that is sort of walled off, she keeps herself to herself, which is probably an important part of being the successful doctor that she is. She evaluates things in a clinical manner, and easily steps in to assist where she can, completely aware of her role in any given situation, and how she is qualified to help. I can see where Greta’s emotional distance might be off-putting to some readers, but I honestly really appreciated it. It was another aspect of the book where the doctor seemed to catch the role of the character perfectly. Regardless of her supernatural patients, Greta is a doctor, and she fits her role like she was born to it.

It quickly becomes apparent that not everything is as it should be. One of her cases ends up being a little more complex than she expected, in ways that she doesn’t understand. This requires Greta to do her own research and digging to see what is going on, and things get interesting.

Greta never stops meeting with patients, and the sort of rotating door of cases that she evaluates throughout the novel was part of what kept me so enchanted. Some of the cases she addresses are so completely clever – things I never would have thought of but once I’m introduced to the situation I had to sit back and think, “this makes total sense in the context of what Shaw wrote.” A lot of this stuff was absolutely creatively ingenious.

Greta is a knowledgeable person, and Shaw did her research when writing this novel. The details of the cases and Greta’s practice, mixed with her sort of detached and evaluative nature might overwhelm some readers, or be offputting to them. However, it really, really worked for me. It just felt right. Every aspect of this novel felt right to me. I couldn’t put it down, and Greta’s adventures as a doctor were so well written and well researched that I found myself actually thinking that this person could totally exist somewhere, working this job.

The mystery eventually comes to a sort of conclusion. This book has a definite beginning, middle, and end, but it’s the first book in a series, so I look forward to more installments and other mysteries in the future. I can’t imagine much that would please my bookwormish self more than reading more about Greta Helsing, and her life as a doctor to the supernatural and their various unexpected ailments.

So, in summation, Strange Practice was a homerun in every aspect. This was a novel I started reading not knowing what to expect, and finished in about a day because I just couldn’t put it down. When I say that there is nothing like this book out there, I mean it, and that’s a damn good thing. If you’re looking for a book that is unique, and dry, detailed and fantastically written and thought out, then give Strange Practice a try.

You’re welcome for the recommendation in advance.


5/5 stars


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