I was planning to read this on holiday, but when I started reading Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw, I basically couldn’t stop. So here I am, still not on holiday and finished my holiday reading.
Strange Practice is a delight. It is full of wonderful, interesting and varied characters. Most of them happen to be monsters, but that’s no reason to hold that against them. The main character is Greta Helsing, who by the name should indicate that she has a relation to the Van Helsings of Dracula fame. But over time the antagonism between vampires and Helsings changed into respect and friendship – which is why you have Greta running a medical practice looking after all the monsters, mummies and vampires of London.
But in the middle of her life intrudes and order of warrior monks, with strange blue eyes who are targeting her monster patients, random Londoners and Greta herself.
But look at this cover! There are also some delightful illustrations inside as well.
The characters themselves are a delight, the setting is so very London and therefore wonderful (parts of it take part in my part of town which was even more fun for me), and the whole idea of a monster general practice is such a delightful inversion of the normal monster narratives that it was hard not to become engrossed in the book.
My only main critique would be is that there aren’t very many women (monsters or otherwise). While there is Greta, and two assistants at her practice, most of the other main characters are monstrous and male. Two vampires, a human, a demon and of course all the antagonistic monks. There are going to be two more books in the series, so hopefully the gender balance can become more balanced.
However, I still enjoyed it. Greta is a force of nature and she dominates the narrative. The other characters love her – she is there for their community and selflessly attends the them. There are some interesting twists and turns in the narrative that keep it compelling and fresh. As well, it turns more than just traditional monster narratives on their head, which I won’t spoil but it was super enjoyable.
Anyway, its great. I am very much looking forward to seeing more of Greta and what she gets up to in the monster world. I hope we still have some of the other characters in tow because I adored Fass, Ruthven and Varney as well. DELIGHTFUL.