Book Review: Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw



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. 




Gah!!!! I love this book! I love this book so much it has turned me into a blathering, incoherent mess. (Someone send help.) This book was SO much fun that I immediately bought the second one as soon as I finished it, saying ‘to hell with my reading schedule! Weeee!’


Strange Practice is very much urban fantasy, but also it’s kind of side-stepping a lot of the usual tropes of that subgenre (which, let’s face it, has become pretty trope-y–which is totally fine! But this felt so fresh and new in comparison). Most of the supernatural folks are kind of like regular people just going about their business and such. Our main protagonist is Dr. Greta Helsing, a physician to the supernatural community of greater London. She runs a clinic where she caters to her special clients. Apparently monsters can get the flu too!

The characters in this are probably the best thing about it. Since I’m almost always all about the characters in a story, this worked really well for me. Greta’s friends with a vampire, Ruthven, who instead of being all ‘vampire-y’ likes making breakfast and coffee for people and remodeling his kitchens. He’s a perfect host, really. Having been around for a few hundred years, Ruthven is a very old friend of the Helsing family and was friends with Greta’s father before her, he’s known her since she was a child. Their relationship is interesting because Ruthven has always been around, kind of the same, like a fixture, but Greta has grown up during that time. At times he seems almost fatherly in regard, but it’s clear he is a friend and has her best welfare at heart.

There are a bunch of other characters we get to meet, some of them supernatural and some of them are humans like Greta. They team up when they become involved in the search for a murderer after members of the community, and even Greta herself, is targeted. Greta has  a similar relationship as she does with Ruthven with Fass, another supernatural being that has been around for a while. Although their dynamic is a little different because Fass doesn’t take very good care of himself and so, as a doctor, she’s taken on a care-taker role to him. But Fass is very much in the same position as Ruthven, being an old friend of the family who cares very much about Greta’s welfare.

This is very much a ‘found family’ story. The characters don’t really have much family on their own, each of them are sort of alone for various reasons, but together they form a group that works better together and it’s clear they come to care about each other. These are my favorite types of stories. I love that Ruthven lets everyone stay at his place (it’s not as if he didn’t have the room). He really is a great host.

But, just because the monsters in this story are nice, doesn’t mean they can’t kick ass when needed. There is an edge of danger to them, the vampires and other monsters. They’ll defend their friends and fight against those that threaten their community’s safety if they have to. There isn’t really that much to the ‘big bad’ in the story but since I didn’t really mind that at all. The story is more about the characters coming together to help one another than the mystery plot itself.

Everything about this just felt so smartly done, and yet it’s also highly entertaining. I laughed out lout a few times while listening to the book (the narration is excellent!).

Strange Practice is clever and funny and, at times, poignant. I loved it. I’m only sorry that it took me so long to get to it. 5/5 stars.

22 thoughts on “Book Review: Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw

  1. Tammy says:

    I’m glad you loved this! You liked it a little more than I did, but I did love the “found family” aspect a lot. And Orbit just revealed the cover of book 3, have you seen it?

    • waytoofantasy says:

      Yes, just saw the cover reveal the other day! I’m really excited for it. When I saw Vivian at the book fest she said book 3 will be the final one for the series, it’s only a trilogy, so I was a little sad about that lol. But I think she’ll have something else interesting in the works next (she mentioned something about science fiction).

    • waytoofantasy says:

      It’s a bit different from typical UF with super powerful protaga…Greta is just a doctor. But I really loved this one, the characters are great. Hope you enjoy if you check it out!

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