Strange Practice (Dr. Greta Helsing, #1)
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 (Dr. Greta Helsing, #1) Details

TitleStrange Practice (Dr. Greta Helsing, #1)
Author
FormatKindle Edition
ReleaseJul 25th, 2017
PublisherOrbit
Number of pages320 pages
Rating
GenreFantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Mystery, Urban Fantasy

Strange Practice (Dr. Greta Helsing, #1) Review

  • Vivian
    July 17, 2017
    Even vampires get the blues.The story is based on a human doctor, Greta Helsing whose medical practice caters solely to the supernatural inhabitants of London. It features an ensemble cast of character, which makes for interesting reading as you uncover her various patients' species and their strengths and weaknesses. It's all another day of humdrum illnesses and ordinary treatments until a murderous cult starts killing Londoners--and no one's safe. Not the supernatural and not the humans.With t Even vampires get the blues.The story is based on a human doctor, Greta Helsing whose medical practice caters solely to the supernatural inhabitants of London. It features an ensemble cast of character, which makes for interesting reading as you uncover her various patients' species and their strengths and weaknesses. It's all another day of humdrum illnesses and ordinary treatments until a murderous cult starts killing Londoners--and no one's safe. Not the supernatural and not the humans.With the mystery set into motion and characters endangered, the plot ratchets up and we begin to appreciate the differences of each species. The theme of "the other" and the inherit right to exist is prevalent as the host of supernatural characters are humanized. It's pretty clear to see the relevance with events happening today. I liked this a lot. There were some pretty wide divergences in the species "talents", but they all offered something.So the gang is all in trying to solve the problem before the "regulars" aka humans find out about the less "normal" citizens of London. It's entertaining and well paced. I liked it, but didn't love it. I had a few issues. Greta has some character inconsistencies. While secrecy about supernaturals is paramount, Great does not share intel of the murderous cult with her supernatural coworkers, there's no letting the cat out of the bag, so this doesn't make sense. Helsing is a dedicated doctor, yet, when a patient was at the point of needing more care, they were not forwarded to a proper hospital with all the advantages of equipment she lacked--this I don't understand. Finally, there's some issues with the ending both how Greta responds and acts and the appearance of another character popping in like deus ex machina. which just is great since things get resolved and explained, but very convenient. Too convenient.Overall, I found it diverting, but not in-depth. A few quibbles, but definitely a vacation read. ~Copy provided by NetGalley~
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  • Lauren Stoolfire
    July 12, 2017
    I received a free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.Greta Helsing follows in her family's footsteps by inheriting an extremely specialized, and sometimes just plain freaky, medical practice. She's one of very few doctors to supernatural creatures and everything that goes bump in the night. Greta doesn't have magical powers herself, unless you count treating banshees for vocal strain, mummies from coming completely unraveled, and the like. It's fairly quiet and doesn't pay a lot I received a free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.Greta Helsing follows in her family's footsteps by inheriting an extremely specialized, and sometimes just plain freaky, medical practice. She's one of very few doctors to supernatural creatures and everything that goes bump in the night. Greta doesn't have magical powers herself, unless you count treating banshees for vocal strain, mummies from coming completely unraveled, and the like. It's fairly quiet and doesn't pay a lot, but she's been prepared for this all of her just supernatural-adjacent life. Then, a group of monks suddenly begins killing fellow Londoners - the living and the undead - and Greta has to put all of her not inconsiderable skills to the test if she wants to stop these deranged murderers, save her life, clients, and her medical practice.Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw is an incredibly promising beginning for a brand new urban fantasy series. I'm so glad that I got selected via NetGalley to review this novel. It has so much to love about it from a great central mystery, an intriguingly quirky cast of characters, a great monster lineup, and it's plenty creepy. Although some of the medical aspects comes across as a bit overly technical and clinical, the characters are what really make the story come to life. My favorites from the story are Ruthven and Fastitocolon (you can call him Fass). Ruthven is a vampire, of the classic draculine type, and a long time friend of Greta's and Fass has known her family for generations, he's definitely powerful but no one really wants to be the one to directly ask him what he is exactly - that would be rude. Another character that's really cool to see get a modern treatment is Francis Varney, aka the title character from the gothic penny dreadful Varney the Vampyre. And, yes, there is quite a difference between vampires and vampyres!Overall, if you love dark urban fantasy, gothic horror, a solid mystery, and memorable characters, Vivian Shaw's newest novel, Strange Practice is a real treat. I'm dying to see what's next up in the Dr. Greta Helsing series. Do yourself a favorite and try your next favorite!
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  • Book Riot Community
    July 26, 2017
    Dr. Greta Helsing has a family reputation to uphold. She spends her time administering care to the undead, a lucrative yet quiet life. Quiet, that is, until she uncovers a a group of murderous monks in London’s midst. Now Greta must use her unusual knowledge and profession to put an end to their deadly tirade, before she becomes the next victim. I always love a good twist on a classic character!Backlist bump: The Diabolical Miss Hyde by Viola CarrTune in to our weekly podcast dedicated to all th Dr. Greta Helsing has a family reputation to uphold. She spends her time administering care to the undead, a lucrative yet quiet life. Quiet, that is, until she uncovers a a group of murderous monks in London’s midst. Now Greta must use her unusual knowledge and profession to put an end to their deadly tirade, before she becomes the next victim. I always love a good twist on a classic character!Backlist bump: The Diabolical Miss Hyde by Viola CarrTune in to our weekly podcast dedicated to all things new books, All The Books: http://bookriot.com/listen/shows/allt...
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  • BAM The Bibliomaniac
    June 11, 2017
    Many thanks to Orbit Books, Vivian Shaw, and Netgalley for the free copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased opinion. What an original beginning to what I'm sure will be an amazing fantasy book series! We meet Dr. Greta Helsing (family dropped the Van generations ago) in the middle of the night making a house call...at a vampire's house...to treat a vampyre...so obviously she's not the typical GP. Oh, sure may carry a black bag and dole out antibiotics, but her patients lean more toward the Many thanks to Orbit Books, Vivian Shaw, and Netgalley for the free copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased opinion. What an original beginning to what I'm sure will be an amazing fantasy book series! We meet Dr. Greta Helsing (family dropped the Van generations ago) in the middle of the night making a house call...at a vampire's house...to treat a vampyre...so obviously she's not the typical GP. Oh, sure may carry a black bag and dole out antibiotics, but her patients lean more toward the supernatural side of things. Of course, when events take a turn for the worse, they too have more of a paranormal attitude. It's quite obvious Shaw has delved into some deep research; either that or she has some far-reaching interests. Her author story states that she enjoys reading up on various topics, and I think that has certainly come in handy here. Just the creation of a formulation of an herbal toxic concoction alone is impressive. She has two Tolkien references, one extremely important to the storyline. I found myself bookmarking literary allusions to follow up on. Some I've read years ago; some I've heard of. Of the characters Varney seems quite human. He's "melancholic", he has a crush, he feels like he doesn't belong. He wants to be liked and loved. Cranshaw, on the other hand, I found rather annoying. He's supposed to be a researcher and perhaps curator of a museum, but his speech is abhorrent. He's like a little brother poking the other characters on the shoulder all of the time for attention. I think I understand why he was written this way, as he is pivotal to the denouement and needs to be a bit weak-minded. Greta's partners in her practice, Dezda and Anna, I also found worth knowing. I'm hoping they become more prominent as the books are published. What I'm taking away from this read, apart from the enjoyment factor and the need to read ANOTHER fantasy series, is the ubiquitous good vs. evil plot-this time the good being not always who one thinks it will be and the evil easily feeding off fear or hatred that can be found inside people because of the differences they don't understand. Those differences are evident when speaking of werewolves or mummies, but they aren't so different when we are speaking of Jews or gypsies, the handicapped or mentally ill, the homeless or unemployed. Think on it. Summer Fantasy Fest read read #14
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  • Drew
    July 28, 2017
    As always this review can also be found on my blog The Tattooed Book Geek: https://thetattooedbookgeek.wordpress...I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.Strange Practice tells the story of Greta Helsing (yes, of the same name as Van Helsing), a doctor but not a doctor to us mere mortals. Oh no, Greta is a doctor for the supernatural looking after an assortment of creatures and their ailments. After all, creatures get sick, depressed and ne As always this review can also be found on my blog The Tattooed Book Geek: https://thetattooedbookgeek.wordpress...I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.Strange Practice tells the story of Greta Helsing (yes, of the same name as Van Helsing), a doctor but not a doctor to us mere mortals. Oh no, Greta is a doctor for the supernatural looking after an assortment of creatures and their ailments. After all, creatures get sick, depressed and need their boo-boo's and owies looking after too!There has been a spate of murders taking place in London and with each death, a set of rosary beads are left with the body, it's not just humans that are being targeted by the killer but the supernatural creatures too. One night, Greta receives a call from the vampire Edmund Ruthven, a fellow vampyre has been stabbed and isn't healing in the way that he should be, this is cause for alarm as vampires/vampyres have healing abilities. The stabbing in question was done by a monk with glowing blue eyes, a member of a newly resurrected olden day sect of religious zealots, who believe that all supernatural creatures are an affront to God and need purging from London. Unfortunately for Greta, this also includes her as she is guilty by association due to her being a doctor to the supernatural. What follows is Greta's attempt to decipher the mystery behind the persecution, stop the mad monks and thwart the entity behind it all.I have to admit that I wasn't instantly enamoured with Greta as a character finding her to be slightly stuffy and bossy. I was ambiguous towards her, I didn't dislike her but I wasn't immediately drawn to her either. However, as the story progressed I found myself growing to like her, her personality and the role that she played.While Greta is the main character and the book is labelled as 'A Dr. Greta Helsing novel'. She's part of a core group of characters that are all fundamentally involved in the story told in Strange Practice. You have Greta Helsing herself and also, Lord Edmund Ruthven (a vampire, standard bloodsucker who gets on well with others, fits in and has a polite disposition), Sir Francis Varney (a vampyre, only drinks maiden's blood, feels like an outcast and has a morose disposition), August Cranswell (a human acquaintance of Ruthven who works at the British Museum, sort of the lighter relief and the imbecile of the group) and Fastitocalon/Fass (an accountant with a chronic cough and a former demon).As I mentioned, Greta, didn't do it for me straight away. Luckily, that wasn't the case with a couple of the other characters, Fass is instantly likeable and Ruthven with his slicked back black hair and pale pallor is a modern day Dracula and is such an eccentric character that you can't help but like him. The ghouls are also pretty cool too and we are even treated to an appearance by Samael himself, devil horns baby!The group have a great dynamic and each of the individuals has their own personality and strengths and weaknesses. The bonds and relationships between them are very deep, Fass was a friend of Greta's father and after his passing took to keeping an eye on her well-being and Ruthven and Varney have known each other for many years. Intertwined together, for me, the group forms an integral core component of the book.The world building is quite subtle with the book taking place in a few locations in and around modern day London (Greta's practice, Ruthven's house and the underground) and isn't epic in scale. The supernatural live in secret, often hidden away, lurking in shadows but, also using magic, glamours and thralling to remain undetected in plain sight with most humans unaware that they exist and that's how the supernatural want things to stay. The aspect of heaven and hell is well done and adds an extra dimension to the world. With heaven and hell both trying to keep some semblance of balance and get along in a bureaucratic, too much paperwork, suit wearing type of way.I'd like to see more of Dez and Anna in future books, Greta's acquaintances and helpers at her surgery, from the limited page time they receive in Strange Practice they both seem like they could be interesting characters. And, also more supernatural creatures, werewolves and mummies amongst others are mentioned, specifically a mummy in need of surgery and it'd be nice to see more in future instalments.Strange Practice is an absorbing and fast-paced read that is well-written by Shaw, incorporating fun and humour into the story whilst also keeping the overall tone of the book dark. I'm not a fan of the standard urban fantasy and while Strange Practice is classed as 'urban fantasy' it's anything but normal veering far more towards the wacky. As the first book in a new series, Strange Practice does a great job of serving as an introduction to both Greta et al and the world Shaw has created, room for expansion?? Yes, but nonetheless it's a damn fine start.I enjoyed Strange Practice, featuring sinister goings-on and an eclectic mix of weird and wonderful characters attempting to unravel the mystery, it's a quirky and often kooky read that is well worth your time.
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  • Bevin
    June 13, 2017
    An incredibly clever and strikingly unique story that took me by surprise in the best way. I received an ARC of this one and though the summary seemed intriguing, I didn't really know what to expect from the cover. And now that I've read it, that may possibly be because it's genuinely not like anything I've read before. The closest Comparision I can think of is to the Discovery of Witches trilogy by Deborah Harkness, but even that has an entirely different feel, if a similar theme, to this book. An incredibly clever and strikingly unique story that took me by surprise in the best way. I received an ARC of this one and though the summary seemed intriguing, I didn't really know what to expect from the cover. And now that I've read it, that may possibly be because it's genuinely not like anything I've read before. The closest Comparision I can think of is to the Discovery of Witches trilogy by Deborah Harkness, but even that has an entirely different feel, if a similar theme, to this book. Vivian Shaw writes with clinical factuality that is so thoroughly researched, it could almost be overwhelming for a less familiar reader, but is delivered in such a skillful way that it is entirely understandable. Her narrating atyle has the delightfully relatable style that I think many longtime fanfiction writers and readers will recognize, and the story absolutely benefits from this thorough knowledge of what makes a reader enthusiastic about a story. I loved this story from beginning to end and finish it absolutely intrigued for the next installment.
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  • Meigan
    June 15, 2017
    A creepy mystery, an unusual doctor, and supernatural creatures aplenty, Strange Practice was a fun and fast-paced first installment in a series that's certainly one I can foresee adding to my list of UF favorites. A regular doctor by all appearances - and diplomas, Greta Helsing and her practice are anything but. While she technically could make a practice treating patients of the human persuasion, Greta is following in her father's footsteps and treating only patients of the supernatural varie A creepy mystery, an unusual doctor, and supernatural creatures aplenty, Strange Practice was a fun and fast-paced first installment in a series that's certainly one I can foresee adding to my list of UF favorites. A regular doctor by all appearances - and diplomas, Greta Helsing and her practice are anything but. While she technically could make a practice treating patients of the human persuasion, Greta is following in her father's footsteps and treating only patients of the supernatural variety. From ghouls with depression to mummies in need of actual working toes, Greta sees them all. Working only with supernaturals comes with its own set of difficulties for a number of reasons, the primary being that the human population is unaware of such creatures living among them. Having no real set of reference materials and books to aid in figuring out how to treat such creatures comes with a price - Greta relies solely on folk tales, fairytales, and legends to understand the various creatures' habits and anatomical workings. Sometimes it's easy, such as the case of a depressed ghoul; sometimes it's not so easy, as in the vampyre who isn't healing after being stabbed by a weird, burned monk human-not human thing. Every day is different as a supernatural doctor, and Great wouldn't have it any other way. The mystery in Strange Practice was decidedly creepy with the weird human-not-human-who-the-heck-knows monk people. Convinced that every supernatural creature is a sin, a slight in the eyes of God, the merry band of monk-folk are hell-bent on eliminating all supernaturals around London. Needless to say, with only a few doctors in the know concerning the creatures, these are busy times in the Helsing clinic. Many parts of Strange Practice were quite dark, which is exactly the way I like my urban fantasy, but Shaw managed to insert quite a bit of humor which lightened the tone throughout. Her characters were so quirky, especially Fastitocolon and Ruthven, and I especially liked the deep friendships each of the characters had with one another, and especially what they shared with Greta. All told, Strange Practice was a dark and quirky first installment in a new urban fantasy series. Fast-paced and fun, with a creepy, twisty mystery, I highly recommend it and will definitely be following the series for as long as it runs. *eARC received via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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  • Meg
    June 29, 2017
    4.5/5 Vivian Shaw's Strange Practice has just about everything I look for in a modern, urban fantasy. Dr. Greta Helsing (a descendant of those Van Helsings) is a GP to the supernatural inhabitants of London – vampires, vampyres (there's a difference), demons, ghouls, mummies, werewolves, you name it. When the story begins, Greta is doing a house call and she finds out there has been another attack in a string of murders involving a weird religious sect. Through the developing arc of who, or what 4.5/5 Vivian Shaw's Strange Practice has just about everything I look for in a modern, urban fantasy. Dr. Greta Helsing (a descendant of those Van Helsings) is a GP to the supernatural inhabitants of London – vampires, vampyres (there's a difference), demons, ghouls, mummies, werewolves, you name it. When the story begins, Greta is doing a house call and she finds out there has been another attack in a string of murders involving a weird religious sect. Through the developing arc of who, or what, is behind the Rosary Ripper murders.Shaw develops Greta's London throughout the story, and I loved reading about all of the supernatural beings she encounters, treats, and cares for. Each type of being has their own social hierarchies, and I really enjoyed the fact that Greta has to rely on her knowledge of mythology, folklore, and the like, along with her shared family history, in order to figure out her patients' symptoms and probable cures. Maybe it's me, but I think it's rare to find a female protagonist who isn't in her twenties in urban fantasy these days, and I liked that she was slightly older than the typical protagonist and was slightly stiff and reserved around other people until she became familiar with them. There's a little bit of a budding infatuation, but I liked that this was mostly focused on the relationships Greta has with her friends and colleagues. Romance is nice, but it's better to have a core set of people to rely on and trust when things go terribly, terribly wrong. She truly cares about her people, and her people care about her.And if you love London and aren't there now, this book will make you long to be back on those winding streets and wandering through those dark alleys on a cool night. As soon as I started reading this, I felt like I was transported right back to that city, and I felt like I could trace the routes these characters took in map I have in my mind. It felt real, it felt wonderful, and it made me wish I could go back just to see if I could catch a glimpse of the others hidden in the shadows.Strange Practice is a thrilling romp through the London we think we know with a fantastic set of characters that will keep you hooked until the very end.Thank you to Orbit and Netgalley for a review copy! All opinions are my own. 
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  • Jessica Strider
    July 25, 2017
    Pros: fun characters, interesting story, quick readCons: repetitionGreta Helsing is a modern day human doctor who treats the supernatural. When she’s called to a vampire’s house for an emergency, she discovers that a mysterious group is hunting ‘creatures of evil’, a group that might be connected to the ‘rosary ripper’ murders plaguing London.I enjoyed this book a lot. The characters were quirky and entertaining. I liked that a few of them were familiar from older literary works. The mythologies Pros: fun characters, interesting story, quick readCons: repetitionGreta Helsing is a modern day human doctor who treats the supernatural. When she’s called to a vampire’s house for an emergency, she discovers that a mysterious group is hunting ‘creatures of evil’, a group that might be connected to the ‘rosary ripper’ murders plaguing London.I enjoyed this book a lot. The characters were quirky and entertaining. I liked that a few of them were familiar from older literary works. The mythologies for the different creatures were a mixture of common folklore with a few twists to make them different and fresh. I particularly liked the interpretation of angels and demons presented. The author did a fantastic job of making the ‘monsters’ feel very human and empathetic.There’s a particular scene with Greta that I absolutely loved. Most urban fantasy novels have literal kickass female characters, so it was nice reading a book with a female protagonist who doesn’t know any martial arts, who’s terrified by horrific situations, but who manages her fear and is able to act despite it. It was wonderful reading about a woman who didn’t beat anyone up and who relied on her friends to help her when things got tough.I was somewhat surprised that the core protagonists didn’t warn the supernatural community of their danger, specifically Greta’s patients and employees. I also found it strange that everyone in the group seemed to learn the same information separately - at different times - rather than pooling what they’d learned (or asking more questions of the group that had encountered the antagonists). There’s a fair amount of repetition. Several conversations simply repeated information learned earlier. On the whole, this was a fun, fast read. I’m very curious to see what adventure Greta has next.
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  • Nichole Mohler
    July 12, 2017
    Greta Helsing is not your traditional general practitioner. She treats the supernatural. Groomed for this job since childhood, Greta is a natural. That is, until a group of monks start killing humans and vamps. They want to rid the world of evil. Not only is Greta treating one of the would be victims, her occupation in itself is deemed evil and makes her a target. This was a fun read. Greta is a very likable character. I really liked Ruthven too. I received a copy from Net Galley.
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  • Danya
    July 9, 2017
    This review and others can be found on my blog, Fine Print.Vivian Shaw’s STRANGE PRACTICE is urban fantasy meets classic Gothic literature, a striking combination that makes for a unique and compelling read. Throw in a cast of lovable misfits and fascinating world building and this is a sure winner.Dr. Greata Helsing (her family dropped the “Van” from their name ages ago) inherited a highly specialized medical practice from her beloved father: one that caters to the unique needs of the supernatu This review and others can be found on my blog, Fine Print.Vivian Shaw’s STRANGE PRACTICE is urban fantasy meets classic Gothic literature, a striking combination that makes for a unique and compelling read. Throw in a cast of lovable misfits and fascinating world building and this is a sure winner.Dr. Greata Helsing (her family dropped the “Van” from their name ages ago) inherited a highly specialized medical practice from her beloved father: one that caters to the unique needs of the supernatural community. There are only two such practices in the entirety of London, so Greta’s a very busy woman — unfortunately, it’s not exactly lucrative despite the brisk business. Turns out that banshees don’t have much in the way of traditional currency. Thankfully Greta has rich and powerful friends to help her out, ones who are notable in the supernatural underground. Supernatural-adjacent Greta may not have any special powers of her own, but her abilities as a doctor and her empathy for those considered monstrous even by non-human standards are highly valued by her clients. So when Greta and those she holds dear are threatened by the revival of an ancient religious cult targeting the supernatural, the entire community is thrown into an uproar.It is Greta’s relationships with her friends and clients as much as the mystery behind the cult murders that carry STRANGE PRACTICE forward. Unlike many urban fantasy protagonists, Greta is far from socially isolated and has strong network of true – if unusual – friends. After her father’s death, the once-demon Fastitocalon (Fass to his friends) took up the role of parent and mentor to Greta, guiding her through the fraught world of the supernatural. But Fass has little care for his chronic health issues, and Greta finds herself constantly trying to treat his ailments even while the two run headlong into danger. She also treats her friend Edmund Ruthven, the posh vampire who suffers from chronic depression and ennui after a few too many centuries of living.Shaw does a commendable job of incorporating characters and supernatural creatures from classic Gothic literature into her story without making it feel derivative or gimmicky. The differences between vampires and vampyres are explained by comparing Ruthven and Varney (of Varney the Vampyre fame), the particularities of ghoulish culture are explained, and even a mummy from a famous Pharaoh’s tomb makes an appearance in the story in a very natural way. Greta may be a medical doctor, but it’s clear that anthropology also holds a special place in her heart, a fact that made me rejoice because of the richness it added to the world. A private detective certainly wouldn’t have the same curiosity about the composition of poisons targeting the supernatural. Three cheers for unique protagonists!Greta’s an unusual protagonist for urban fantasy not only because of her profession, but also because she’s a solid 15 years older than your average UF leading lady…and she’s much more earnest. For a story about ritualistic killings and creatures of the night, STRANGE PRACTICE is a very heartwarming and affecting book. Greta and her friends took me completely by surprise and I found myself very invested in their lives. A strong debut from a promising new voice in fantasy, STRANGE PRACTICE by Vivian Shaw is a delight from start to finish.
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  • LOURDES (ChaptersWeLove)
    July 26, 2017
    Very interesting read, great characters but the pace for me was a bit too slow.Review to follow.
  • Paul
    July 28, 2017
    Like most members of the caring profession, Dr Greta Helsing will do whatever she can to help those who require her assistance. The only difference between Greta and a regular run-of-the-mill physician is that most of those who visit her surgery are already dead (or undead if we are being technically accurate). Due to the supernatural nature of her patients, Greta’s practice, though based in Harley Street, is only just managing to survive. It turns out replacing bones in mummies, or treating a s Like most members of the caring profession, Dr Greta Helsing will do whatever she can to help those who require her assistance. The only difference between Greta and a regular run-of-the-mill physician is that most of those who visit her surgery are already dead (or undead if we are being technically accurate). Due to the supernatural nature of her patients, Greta’s practice, though based in Harley Street, is only just managing to survive. It turns out replacing bones in mummies, or treating a supernatural being with bronchitis is not the most profitable line of work. On top of all that, Greta has discovered a far bigger problem. Who are the sinister cadre of monks that want Greta and her patients destroyed? And more to the point, why?Greta is a great character. She steadfastly refuses to give in to the powers transpiring against her. Her work is her life and she often goes without to accommodate her charges. There is real steel running through her veins and she has a stubbornness that ensures people tend to end up coming round to her way of thinking. It must be something to do with people who work in medicine. My mum was a ward sister for many years and she displayed the same attitude. She would not take any nonsense from anyone no matter how important they thought they were.The good news for Greta is she that she is not alone. She has friends she can call upon to assist in her hour of need. Edmund Ruthven is a charismatic vampire who has evolved along with London better than most. He genuinely enjoys the trappings of modern undead living. Next there is Fastitocalon, an extremely old family friend, almost a surrogate father, who also happens to have supernatural abilities. Defining exactly what sort of being Fastitocalon is however remains open to a certain amount of debate. Finally, there is August Cranswell, a researcher/museum curator who is aware of the existence of the supernatural. Cranswell’s family have a connection to Ruthven going back generations. August is always happy to help if it means he will get to learn something new. The trio are firmly in Greta’s corner and it falls upon them all to protect one another, protect undead London, and solve the ever-deepening mystery.When it comes to London there is no better genre than urban fantasy for making the city feel like a character in its own right. Books like The City’s Son, Neverwhere and Banished do a great job of this. Strange Practice joins this list as another perfect example. All the various types of undead that Greta meets make the city seem that little bit more mysterious, a little more vibrant, dare I say it? A little bit more alive. There are great swathes of London that are unknown to most normal people. The maze of tunnels and sewers that crisscross under the metropolis are an ideal breeding ground for evil. All that potential darkness and unfamiliarity ramps up the tension and creates a delightfully sinister tone. I also love the thought that secret societies, supernatural forces and undead creatures exist just out of view from the main population. Though Strange Practice is set in the present, Vivian Shaw also manages to capture that real sense of history that surrounds our nation’s capital. The undead have been part of London since the city’s inception and their existence has grown up along with it.I’ll admit, I was a little surprised. I didn’t expect a novel about a doctor to be quite so gripping. The work Greta does however falls very much into the fringe sciences category and the people; alive, dead or undead, that inhabit that world are quite the eclectic bunch. Greta’s work is a step beyond the realms of normal medicine and that makes for the basis of an enticing narrative.I have a rule that I try to stick to when it comes to reading. If I’m not into a book by page one hundred, I don’t read any further. I think it is fair to give a plot some time to unfold before making any sort of decision. Occasionally though I can pick up a book, start to read and know within a couple of pages that I am going to be absolutely hooked. Strange Practice is a splendid case in point. Vampires, demons, ghouls, supernatural cults and all manner of inexplicable jiggery-pokery. What’s not to love? The characterisation is bang on and I was left wanting to learn more about each one of the creatures, human or otherwise, that Greta meets. Their assorted histories are bound to be fascinating. The story is unique enough to remain consistently intriguing and contains plenty of unexpected twists and turns. I can only hope Vivian Shaw writes many more Greta Helsing novels. There is tons of potential for this to become a series that will just run and run. I can tell you now that if she does write more I’ll be first in line to read them.
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  • Lexie
    April 30, 2017
    That was quite a bit different as I expected, but in the end I quite loved it. It's a different sort of urban fantasy - well to be honest it was what I expected a different book to be like (SHAMBLING GUIDE).Greta is at first a bit too clinical for my tastes, but those around her warm her up quite a bit. Fass, Ruthven, Varney and Cranswell, to name the important people for this book. There's also Anna and Dez, who I hope we see more of going forward and the Ghouls were surprisingly interesting fo That was quite a bit different as I expected, but in the end I quite loved it. It's a different sort of urban fantasy - well to be honest it was what I expected a different book to be like (SHAMBLING GUIDE).Greta is at first a bit too clinical for my tastes, but those around her warm her up quite a bit. Fass, Ruthven, Varney and Cranswell, to name the important people for this book. There's also Anna and Dez, who I hope we see more of going forward and the Ghouls were surprisingly interesting for all that the image freaked me out a bit.Greta is of age with me, which was a nice change of pace for an urban fantasy heroine (who seem to all favor the mid-20s range) and I appreciated that her duty to her calling is what grounded her. It stressed her out, forced into odd hours and weird situations that she wasn't always fully prepared for, but in the end its what she needed in her life to feel as if she had meaning.At times Varney got on my nerves with his "I AM SO PITIFUL AND HOW CAN YOU STAND TO BE NEAR ME" - he envies Ruthven for the ease to which he moves in the world, but also seems repulsed by the fact Ruthven isn't as despairing as he. His inner monologue at times almost seemed spiteful as he listed all the ways Ruthven was both a better man and worst monster than he.The monks were very chilling; viscerally so as our nominal heroes could not really grasp the why of them. Religious fanatics are evermore, you'll find them throughout history in every civilization and religious sect. Sometimes its as innocent as someone who desperately wants to believe and is taken advantage of (as one such monk finds here) and other times someone sees it as their ticket to power (as another monk seems to be). Shaw blends both ways and throws in the supernatural for fun (though truthfully, even without the preternatural side, I could very well see a group of fanatical extreme religious sorts behave this way).There's a lot of humor here, some of it dark and some of it dry. I found Fass' friend Sam to be truly delightful and surprisingly the Ghouls were quite interesting. While some of the creatures here are well known (Vampires namely, though werewolves and mummies get name-dropped and discussed), there are some who don't often appear in fiction as anything other then personality-less monsters. Through Shaw's eyes, as the book is predominantly centered on what goes on around her with occasional digressions to the others, we see these creatures as just another kind of species. The Ghouls have a complex social system as we learn, Mummies have an interesting hierarchy to themselves and the battle between good and evil is basically a bureaucratic juggling act with neither side particularly wanting to win because who wants that kind of paperwork?Overall I really enjoyed this jaunt on the weird side of London and the teaser at the end for the next book has me eager for more!
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  • Jeremy Preacher
    July 19, 2017
    This felt like an urban-fantasy cozy mystery, which is just about perfect for me. The concept, a doctor who specializes in the monstrous and the undead, is great. The story is grounded in a functional community, rather than seeming to take place in a protagonist-and-boyfriends bubble, which is one of my least favorite failure modes in urban fantasy.On that note, romance was *absolutely not* a focus of the story, although there are discreet hints of it, and that made me very happy indeed. (And, h This felt like an urban-fantasy cozy mystery, which is just about perfect for me. The concept, a doctor who specializes in the monstrous and the undead, is great. The story is grounded in a functional community, rather than seeming to take place in a protagonist-and-boyfriends bubble, which is one of my least favorite failure modes in urban fantasy.On that note, romance was *absolutely not* a focus of the story, although there are discreet hints of it, and that made me very happy indeed. (And, honestly, if the discreet hints are followed up on in the sequel, I would be interested! But it was a way better use of time learning more about the world and characters and dealing with the actual conflict than playing the which-one-will-she-sleep-with game.)As for the actual conflict, it worked fine for me. Shaw went to the trouble of humanizing the villains at least enough so that the blame stayed with the correct party, and the finale resolved the issue I was most worried about throughout the book (which... may not have been the one I was *supposed* to be most worried about, but since the resolution was perfect I'm not gonna stress about it.)Overall, this is pure me-crack and I am totally on board with more of them. If you're into urban fantasy but want a different focus, this is well worth a read.(Disclaimer: I am acquainted with the author, so I wouldn't write a review at all if it were a bad one, but as I really did quite like the book it seemed worthwhile.)
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  • Vishaka Rajan
    July 25, 2017
    I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.After reading urban fantasy novels, I've been really wanting to find more books in this genre. It's so different from high fantasy and stories set in alternate worlds ... and it's really addictive once you get into it! I was super excited to receive this ARC so here is my review:I so so so badly wanted to like this book, you really have no idea! It seemed like the perfect book for me, with its cool protagon I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.After reading urban fantasy novels, I've been really wanting to find more books in this genre. It's so different from high fantasy and stories set in alternate worlds ... and it's really addictive once you get into it! I was super excited to receive this ARC so here is my review:I so so so badly wanted to like this book, you really have no idea! It seemed like the perfect book for me, with its cool protagonist and story setting. However, I just couldn't get into this story. No matter how hard I tried, it all was just too bizarre. The switching of voices between characters was very jarring and it was hard to keep it straight in my head. One minute, the story seemed like it was set in Victorian times and the next minute, it seemed way more modern. It all just threw me off and I couldn't enjoy myself. There are a lot of positive reviews on GoodReads so maybe this is just one of those times where I am in the minority. If this book's premise sounds like something you would like, give it a shot! 
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  • Vanessa
    July 14, 2017
    A fresh take on the urban fantasy that, unfortunately, suffers from an over reliance on a tic-y writing style and a heroine that is the least interesting character in this supernatural London. Ms. Shaw's use of italics grates as, to me, it shows a lack of trust in her ability to demonstrate the heft of a line of dialogue or action and prevents the reader from interpreting said dialogue or action in his or her own way. Take the line, "I let it go." for example, and place the emphasis on each of f A fresh take on the urban fantasy that, unfortunately, suffers from an over reliance on a tic-y writing style and a heroine that is the least interesting character in this supernatural London. Ms. Shaw's use of italics grates as, to me, it shows a lack of trust in her ability to demonstrate the heft of a line of dialogue or action and prevents the reader from interpreting said dialogue or action in his or her own way. Take the line, "I let it go." for example, and place the emphasis on each of four words in turn. By doing so, the reader can read in agency or force of will, uncertainty as to the object, or objections as to the conditions in which the object is kept, etc. If I, as the writer, direct you to place the emphasis on one of those words, your role as an active reader diminishes. Now, obviously, sometimes this is necessary but I argue that 2 to 3 times a page is obtrusive and distracting and you better believe that's happening here. I look forward to the next entry; hopefully Ms. Shaw acquires an editor with a sharp red pen.I received an ecopy from the publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Pam ☼Because Someone Must Be a Thorn☼ Tee
    April 13, 2017
    ~ review copyThe story, characters, and writing have potential but as it stands this book just isn't for me. I feel bad being the first one leaving my remarks and not having them be more positive. The author though should continue doing her thing, sustained by the knowledge that not all books are for all readers, and that there are plenty of popular series that I've also dnf'd.I read exactly half of the book and these are the reasons I did not continue. While the characters were interesting the ~ review copyThe story, characters, and writing have potential but as it stands this book just isn't for me. I feel bad being the first one leaving my remarks and not having them be more positive. The author though should continue doing her thing, sustained by the knowledge that not all books are for all readers, and that there are plenty of popular series that I've also dnf'd.I read exactly half of the book and these are the reasons I did not continue. While the characters were interesting the storyline was a bit repetitive with events being repeated from one character to another in detail, instead of with a phrase like, 'he/she explained what had happened'. This is not really a way to progress the story and in fact in the first half of the book there was little progress or momentum.I would definitely pick up the next book in this series. Like I said there is potential and maybe the story will find it's stride with the next adventure.
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  • Dirlas
    June 20, 2017
    2.5 StarsInitially, I was extremely excited to read this book. Everything about it was interesting and the plot was so unique. While reading, the story was as unique and interesting as I expected it to be. I can honestly say that I have never come across another story like this one. I liked the plot and the characters but I had a very hard time connecting to this story which diminished my overall enjoyment of it. I really wish I could have enjoyed this book more than I did.
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  • Lisa Wolf
    July 8, 2017
    An entertaining, quick-moving story of a doctor who caters to the supernatural set of contemporary London, healing vampires, mummies, ghouls, and more. A few pacing problems and lack of character development get in the way of what should have been a much more enjoyable read.
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  • Billie
    May 28, 2017
    A solid first entry in a new urban fantasy series that's a little bit Nicole Peeler or Gail Carriger and a little bit What We Do in the Shadows (but more the former than the latter).
  • Jo
    July 26, 2017
    Full review to follow
  • The Library Ladies
    July 26, 2017
    (Originally reviewed at thelibraryladies.com.)First off, thanks to Orbit for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for a review! I read the description for it, and was pretty much like “Yep, gotta read that!” As a lover of urban fantasy, it’s been a distressing few years recently. Many of my favorite series (“Mercy Thompson” and “Kate Daniels”) are beginning to show their age and are likely (perhaps hopefully) going to wrap up soon. Beyond these, many of my other forays into the genr (Originally reviewed at thelibraryladies.com.)First off, thanks to Orbit for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for a review! I read the description for it, and was pretty much like “Yep, gotta read that!” As a lover of urban fantasy, it’s been a distressing few years recently. Many of my favorite series (“Mercy Thompson” and “Kate Daniels”) are beginning to show their age and are likely (perhaps hopefully) going to wrap up soon. Beyond these, many of my other forays into the genre have yielded middling returns. Either these books stray too closely to tropes already well-established in staple series in the genre to trigger any sense of originality and interest, or…they’re just kind of bland? Not so with “Strange Practice!” Shaw has expertly introduced a new leading lady with a unique perspective on her urban fantasy world and lifestyle, and I was digging it the entire way.Greta Helsing is a doctor for the strange and unusual, the monstrous and the arcane. It is a family practice after her family decided to turn away from the hunting business and re-focus in on the helping side of things. Right here we have such a unique take on urban fantasy that I was immediately completely sold on. Not only is Greta a great character on her own, but her perspective as a doctor presented readers with an entirely new lens through which to view the supernatural world. How do mummies get by with their rotting bodies? What about sunburns for vampires? Do any of these creatures suffer from mental illnesses? Cuz living forever could have some major psychological implications. Not only was there a plethora of creativity in this area, but Greta remained true to this focus throughout the story, even when the evil monks showed up and the action really got started.A big frustration of mine with urban fantasy is when the heroes or heroines sillyly jump beyond their own abilities, somehow thinking (and for plot convenience, accurately thinking) that they can play on the same field as magical beings who have million times the magical power as they. Suddenly the author is forced to create loop hole after loop hole to keep their protagonist up and moving instead of simply being hand-swiped away in the first minute. With this in mind, it was refreshing that Greta’s entire perspective on her situation was always rooted firmly in her position as a doctor. Even more so, in that she realizes the unique service she provides to her clients and understands the importance of staying safe, not only for her own sake, but for those who would suffer without access to medical care. As I said, refreshing, and when she does end up in the action (cuz of course, she must), she plays a believable, yet important, role. See?! It is possible to keep your heroine grounded while also staying true to the action of your story!!Beyond Greta, I was surprised to discover that we had several other point of view characters as well. I always wish there was some way for these book descriptions to hint at this possibility, as it always feels like a bit of a side-swipe to be set up as if the book is from one protagonist’s point of view, and then end up with a handful of others. But alas. With this story, it is of no matter since I thoroughly enjoyed the perspectives these other creatures brought. We had a vampire and a vampyre (the distinction having to do with the type of blood they require), a demon, and even a few chapters from the viewpoint of the nefarious schemers. There was quite a lot of unique world-building and monster “history” that was brought in with all of these characters, and the many other supernatural beings who made appearances.I particularly liked the tone of the story. Dark, witty, and full of literary allusions that were great fun to spot. There as a nice balance struck between the horror aspects and the vampire-friendship-fluff. On one page there would be murder and mayhem, and on the next, a vampire shopping spree! And never once does the story get swept away by its own concept. It would have been all too easy for the humor of the story to have veered into the silly, but Shaw walks the perfect line. Lastly, the setting of London for this story gave it an extra dash of depth, as, like the city itself, the timeless aspects of these creatures that are steeped in history and meaning must now adapt to exist alongside the speed and change of the modern world.If you enjoy urban fantasy, and are hankering for a new series to follow, I can’t recommend enough that you check out “Strange Practice!”
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  • Mark
    July 28, 2017
    Strange Practice is a novel filled with monsters – to quote the book, “in its descriptive, rather than pejorative, sense”. This means that on the streets of present-day London lurk ”vampires, were-creatures, mummies, banshees, ghouls, bogey-men… (and)… the occasional barrow-wight.”Protecting these peculiar creatures from all things good and fair (though, in reality, they are much nastier and more horrible than the beings already mentioned) is Dr. Greta Helsing, daughter of famous physician Wilfe Strange Practice is a novel filled with monsters – to quote the book, “in its descriptive, rather than pejorative, sense”. This means that on the streets of present-day London lurk ”vampires, were-creatures, mummies, banshees, ghouls, bogey-men… (and)… the occasional barrow-wight.”Protecting these peculiar creatures from all things good and fair (though, in reality, they are much nastier and more horrible than the beings already mentioned) is Dr. Greta Helsing, daughter of famous physician Wilfert Helsing, now deceased. Running around modern-day London from her Harley Street offices in her battered Mini, she holds down a regular practice but also looks after those creatures of the night that need specialist care and attention – and most importantly, discretion. If you are a banshee with vocal strain or a barrow-wight with arthritis, the quiet word on the street is that Greta’s the woman to take care of you.Clearly there are different approaches to such a scenario. One could create creatures so frightening that the mere thought of their activities are going to keep you awake at night. Vivian’s take on the idea is different - that they are generally beings to be treated with respect and even pity. They are often creatures who, instead of creating fear, live in fear themselves – of being discovered, of being hated, of being killed.Within this we are introduced to a range of likable and memorable monsters. There’s Ruthven, the centuries-old sophisticated vampire living in the rich quarters of London who, when bored – and being undead, he does have a lot of time on his hands – will take up a new hobby, like reconditioning vintage cars or being able to produce the best coffee. There’s also Fastitocalon (Fass), a demon with self-preservation issues suffering from a long-standing bout of bronchitis, and a family friend of the Helsings for many years.When Sir Francis Varney the Vampyre (yes, that one of Rymer’s tale, though Rymer’s lengthy Victorian ‘penny-dreadful’ story was evidently generously over-exaggerated and shares little more with Varney than his name) staggers into Ruthven’s house one evening, Greta is asked to make a house call. She discovers Varney very ill, having being stabbed with a tainted cross-shaped dagger belonging to a mysterious sect of murderous monks, the Gladius Sancti.Greta soon finds herself at risk for consorting with the undead. For the monks have a bigger purpose and serve a master whose appearance threatens all and puts London at risk.It’s not easy to gain a reader’s sympathy for things that elsewhere are traditionally creatures of hate and fear. This one, by virtue of its deceptively accessible prose and slightly amused tone, quickly sucked me in. It is an extremely promising debut novel. For a book filled with creatures who ironically want to suck your blood, by the end it is a radiantly positive, life-affirming tale that won me over surprisingly quickly and with effortless prose that simply engages the reader from the start. This is one enjoyed for the lightness of touch and the brilliantly droll characterisation that suffuses a fairly standard plot. There’s suspense, some gruesome torture and a few nail-biting, page-turning incidents that show that Vivian’s got something right. I particularly liked her take on ‘infernocelestial politics’ – the relationship between Heaven and Hell that’s more complicated than most people think.But most of all, and perhaps surprisingly for a book filled with monsters, Strange Practice has a lot of heart. The characters clearly care for each other and their mutual investment in each other’s well-being leads to a book where you want to see that all is well. Vivian is to be commended for writing an entertaining book with characters that the reader will love - even the undead!A great read – I look forward to more in the same world. The extract of Book Two at the end of this one suggests that I will want to read more, and soon.
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  • Elizabeth
    June 7, 2017
    Greta Helsing runs a rather unconventional medical practice, treating the supernatural denizens of London and its surrounding areas. Her practice is modest and underfunded, but she works hard to make sure every needy patient gets what they need no matter what kind of being they are or how much money they have. She's called in on an emergency call when a vampire is stabbed with an odd knife with a weird substance that caused the wound to fester. She and her friends, who include vampires Ruthven a Greta Helsing runs a rather unconventional medical practice, treating the supernatural denizens of London and its surrounding areas. Her practice is modest and underfunded, but she works hard to make sure every needy patient gets what they need no matter what kind of being they are or how much money they have. She's called in on an emergency call when a vampire is stabbed with an odd knife with a weird substance that caused the wound to fester. She and her friends, who include vampires Ruthven and Varney, sort of former demon Fastitocalon, and human August Cranswell, figure out this attack is tied to a rash of increasing murders by the Rosary Ripper. Together, they will work to protect the supernatural and human community and stop the killer.Strange Practice is a delightful and unexpected book. This world is basically our own world with a hidden world underneath of it populated by supernatural being including vampires, mummies, ghouls, demons, and even forgotton, eternal creatures. It's not all rainbows and sunshine as many of these people eat humans, but their goal is to stay out of the public eye for safety. They, like everyone else, have medical problems from time to time and Greta Helsing (the Van was dropped long ago) continues the tradition her late father set in providing care to any and all. Although physical diminutive, she goes into dangerous situations and treats each of her patients with the utmost care and respect. What they eat or how they act is irrelevant. If they need help, Greta treats them even though her practice is underfunded and doesn't make much income. The way she treated the family of ghouls chased out of their home was particularly impressive. Her dreams for her practice are so unattainable due to money and aren't motivated by her own income, but what she can provide for her patients like a sun room and a 3D printer for mummies. When she is targeted by the Rosary Ripper, she could have easily stopped treating supernatiral beings and holed up for her own safety. Greta fought back for herself and her patients against the odds.The supernatural characters are just as compelling as the humans. Lord Ruthven is one of Greta's one of the first vampires in literature, seen in Dr. John William Polidori's 1819 short story The Vampire. While he was fearsome in the past, Ruthven now battles boredom by restoring classic cars, renovating his home, and cooking. He's polite, cultured, very rich, and proves to be indispensible to Greta and her group. His home is used as their base because he's a powerful being with superhuman strength, hypnotic powers, and great intelligence. I love how he's just a normal person until he's angered or protecting his friends. Varney is also an early vampire in literature in 1847's The Feast of Blood. Unlike Ruthven, he feels a deep guilt about his existence and his food source with a constant stream of angsty thoughts. He wants to belong and has a bit of a crush on Greta which make him a bit more human. I enjoyed the differences between the two vampires and how they became friends through the experience. My favorite supernatual character is Fastitocalon, who appears as an unassuming, chronically coughing, grey complected fiftysomething year old accountant. Underneath all of that, he has the power to read and cloud minds at will. He was friends with Greta's father and one of her family's oldest friends. His combination of being completelu unremarkable and very powerful with a heart of gold is why he's the best.Strange Practice is a promising start to a new horror and fantasy series that I hope has many more books to come. The characters are well drawn and memorable on both sides. The source of the Rosary Ripper proves to be surprising and a formidable threat to the world. The use of supernatural creatures as an allegory for real life groups looked down upon for inherent aspects is spot on. I look forward to seeing more Greta, more supernatural patients and friends, and a new threat to London. The only part I didn't really enjoy was Cranswell and the last minute romance at the end of the novel. Everything else made this book a fun read perfect for summer. Even the cover design and interior drawings (which I hope are in the finished copy) lent to the whimsical air of the book. I will be keeping my eyes peeled for the second installment Bad Company.
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  • Jill Elizabeth
    July 29, 2017
    ----------"His mind felt full of shattered ice and quicksand, all sharp edges and dull helpless sliding at once, poisoned with blue, drunk with it."----------This was a cool find, and not quite what I expected. Dr. Greta Helsing (the family dropped the "van") is in the family business. She serves as the go-to medical practitioner for the Things That Go Bump In The Night - she takes care of them and they, in turn, as we learn as the story develops, more than take care of her in return... When a n ----------"His mind felt full of shattered ice and quicksand, all sharp edges and dull helpless sliding at once, poisoned with blue, drunk with it."----------This was a cool find, and not quite what I expected. Dr. Greta Helsing (the family dropped the "van") is in the family business. She serves as the go-to medical practitioner for the Things That Go Bump In The Night - she takes care of them and they, in turn, as we learn as the story develops, more than take care of her in return... When a new, unidentified, source starts attacking London's TTGBITN, Dr. Helsing quickly steps in, hunting the hunters who are hunting her and her friends... Sound confusing? It's really not - and the story development and cast of characters are more than original enough to keep you entertained, curious, and in suspense throughout the book. Both Greta and her "monsters" are more human than you might expect in a book about supernatural characters. Their foibles and quirks are endearing and make them eminently relatable. From the blurb and the opening pages, I rather expected Greta to be much more stiff-upper-lipped than she turned out to be. I was pleased to be surprised in this regard; I often think that protagonists are a little too perfectly prepared for what comes their way in supernatural stories - or at least too perfectly, unflappably, adaptable. Real life is messy and off-kilter and throws even the most stoic for a loop now and then - it was a refreshing delight to see protagonists be similarly situated, especially because they persevered nevertheless. It made the story more interesting and the characters much more believable.Add on to that a delightful story-telling style and original voice, and you have a recipe for success in my book! There were teasers in the text suggesting more adventures for the indomitable Dr. Greta, and a preview of the next installment was provided - I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what she and her fascinating team of compatriots stumble up against next...----------"Is it really over, do you think?"Ruthven looked bleak for a moment, and then his smile came back, wry now, a little crooked. "No. It's never going to be *really* over; as long as we exist, there will be people determined to try to remedy that condition. But this part of it is done with."----------
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  • Lukas
    July 29, 2017
    Greta Helsing, a descendant of Abraham van Helsing isn’t interested in killing undead. She prefers to treat “differently alive”” in her specialized clinic. She’s able to provide dental care to vampires, body parts replacements for mummies that fall prey to time and entropy and antidepressants for ghoul chief who doesn’t cope well with responsibility of taking care for two clans.Her private life is almost non-existent due to busy professional life. One day her good friend Edmund Ruthven, a 400-ye Greta Helsing, a descendant of Abraham van Helsing isn’t interested in killing undead. She prefers to treat “differently alive”” in her specialized clinic. She’s able to provide dental care to vampires, body parts replacements for mummies that fall prey to time and entropy and antidepressants for ghoul chief who doesn’t cope well with responsibility of taking care for two clans.Her private life is almost non-existent due to busy professional life. One day her good friend Edmund Ruthven, a 400-year-old vampire asks her for help in treating Francis Varney – another famous vampire who showed on his doorstep gravely wounded. He has a cross shaped stab wound that somehow doesn’t heal. As it turns out he was attacked by murderous monks quoting scriptures and trying to significantly decrease London undead population.After Varney starts to feel better they start to investigate increasing numbers of deaths caused by crazy monks. The team consists of five friends - Greta (a doctor), Varney ( a vampyre), Ruthven (a vampire), Fastitocalon (demon from hell who’s on first name basis with the devil himself) and August Cranswell (a museum curator). Strange Practice is the first book in a promised series. The book is imaginative and genuinely funny. On the other hand it develops slowly and there’s not a lot of action. The focus is more on interactions between characters who care for each other and look for answers regarding the crime. At times they just sit at kitchen, drink tea and brandy and try to figure out what’s happening in London. The answers lead them to a medieval monster-hunting cult. The power that’s manipulating these monks though is something entirely else and unexpected. I enjoyed this take on urban fantasy genre but at times it felt just too slow to keep me fully engaged. The characters are rather memorable and well described. They’re interactions are done well. There’s not a lot of romance but we have family oriented ghouls and, perhaps, budding romance between Greta and older guy (and by older I mean few centuries older).Also it seems the author genuinely loves London and describes some places in detail. All in all it was satisfying read.
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  • Blake Fraina
    May 26, 2017
    In these days of EL James and Cassandra Clare, being a fan-fiction writer is no longer the shameful, deep-dark secret of an author who’s “gone legit.” Quite the opposite in fact. After reading Vivian Shaw’s Strange Practice, I wasn’t at all surprised to find out that she is also known as Coldhope, an out-and-proud fan fiction writer. The protagonist of this mystery/thriller is Dr. Greta Helsing, a descendant of Professor Abraham Van Helsing of Dracula fame, who runs a clinic in modern-day London In these days of EL James and Cassandra Clare, being a fan-fiction writer is no longer the shameful, deep-dark secret of an author who’s “gone legit.” Quite the opposite in fact. After reading Vivian Shaw’s Strange Practice, I wasn’t at all surprised to find out that she is also known as Coldhope, an out-and-proud fan fiction writer. The protagonist of this mystery/thriller is Dr. Greta Helsing, a descendant of Professor Abraham Van Helsing of Dracula fame, who runs a clinic in modern-day London for all manner of paranormal creature, including, but not limited to, vampires, were-wolves, demons, mummies and ghouls. This particular novel, the first in a proposed series, has Helsing on the hunt for a serial killer who leaves a string of rosary beads in the mouth of each victim. The murders are obviously motivated by some misguided religious fervor and when the killer(s) turn their attention to Helsing and her demonic patients, things get personal.This was a real page-turner. And while the plot is very engaging and it has some chilling, nail-biting moments, for me the most enjoyable aspect has to be the characters. This is where Shaw’s background as a fanfic writer is most gloriously in evidence. The team that assembles to assist the good doctor – two vampires (one fabulous of wealth and dry of wit, the other devastatingly handsome and frustratingly reserved), a tubercular demon, a nerdy [and very human] museum researcher and a tribe of ghouls – are all meticulously fleshed-out and believable. They’re funny, sexy, flawed and fascinating. And the interplay between them is very entertaining. I’ve read so many genre novels in recent years where the author labors to capture that Joss Whedon-style banter but Shaw does it with ease. I was surprised to find myself very invested in these folks by the climax. For the genre fan, this is the perfect beach read. I can’t wait for the sequel, Bad Company.
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  • Marissa
    July 13, 2017
    Strange Practice introduces readers to a unique spin on a leading lady in the form of Dr. Greta Helsing (the van was dropped generations ago), a doctor who treats all forms of non-human supernatural beings. The book isn't just about the concept of having a doctor visiting with these unusual patients to treat what is ailing them. As what happens with any character dabbling with the supernatural, Greta gets pulled into figuring out why monks are trying to murder her. This leads her to uncovering a Strange Practice introduces readers to a unique spin on a leading lady in the form of Dr. Greta Helsing (the van was dropped generations ago), a doctor who treats all forms of non-human supernatural beings. The book isn't just about the concept of having a doctor visiting with these unusual patients to treat what is ailing them. As what happens with any character dabbling with the supernatural, Greta gets pulled into figuring out why monks are trying to murder her. This leads her to uncovering a scheme behind the murders of other fellow human/undead Londoners. I enjoyed the relationship between the vampire/vampyre characters. It came across like they had know each other for years, which is how a relationship between immortals like that should be. The author also has a wonderful gift in making the supernatural characters seem very human. Yes, even ghouls get ear infections, my friends. I think this is very important when you're writing a series such as this one where humans and supernaturals are interacting constantly. I felt like the writing was a bit muddled and distracting at times. The author would go off on very descriptive tangents in the middle of characters having a conversation. There wasn't much by way of character development for Greta, but maybe that will happen in future installments. No sappy romance between humans and supernaturals, which I felt was very appropriate considering the darkness portrayed throughout the book. Overall, very interesting to start to what I believe will be a promising series. I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Helen Callahan
    June 21, 2017
    Vivian Shaw makes interestingly into fascinatingly weird...!!! In Strange Practice (Dr. Greta Helsing, #1) her storytelling and creative wording develop into rich scenes the reader is able to visualize. It's original. A dark, chilling, UNPREDICTABLE read. Lots of action-packed thrills and destruction. With some silliness and a few tears added in. The characters are ones the reader can bond and build an ongoing relationships with. Join for more adventures. Again and again. Gretalina (Greta) Helsi Vivian Shaw makes interestingly into fascinatingly weird...!!! In Strange Practice (Dr. Greta Helsing, #1) her storytelling and creative wording develop into rich scenes the reader is able to visualize. It's original. A dark, chilling, UNPREDICTABLE read. Lots of action-packed thrills and destruction. With some silliness and a few tears added in. The characters are ones the reader can bond and build an ongoing relationships with. Join for more adventures. Again and again. Gretalina (Greta) Helsing, a young doctor, has continued her father's clinic. Her personal life consists of making house calls. She is a Supernatural physician, her patient base does not technically exist. Edmund Ruthven, an extremely bored vampire whose mansion has many empty guest rooms. Both his existence and home are about to become full. With an expanding cast of supernaturals and humans they are up against homicidal monks in brown hooded robes and...blue glowing eyes ?? VS has created a world where... London's rivers...flowing on and on...endless darkness...It's November rain...type... goes down collars, under hoods, up sleeves... And chilling moments/creatures have both book character and reader discover that the little hairs on the back of the arm are standing straight. I received an ARC of Strange Practice from Orbit publishing, through NetGalley, for an honest review. My further description of Strange Practice cheats future reader from time which could be spent actually reading this great book !! Please hurry with the sequel, Bad Company !!!
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