Vivian Shaw offers a fresh and charming take on the “they walk among us” fantasy trope with one simple twist: Dr. Greta Helsing is a medical doctor, not a cop. A dedicated physician, Helsing is driven by the need to ensure the vulnerable have access to compassionate and ethical medical care. And, really, who is more vulnerable in modern London than vampires, ghouls, trolls, and other supernatural creatures?
Life as a supernatural doctor isn’t easy. Most of her clients live outside the bounds of society; they are poor and unable to pay. There’s also extremely limited literature on various maladies and how they might manifest differently in other species. Oh, and there’s the fact that someone in London appears to be hunting the poor dears, and possibly the good doctor herself.
I enjoyed Strange Practice. Shaw manages the delicate balance between taking her time and keeping the story moving. This book is titled as the first in a series, so there’s an element of team-building inherent to that, but it never feels tedious.
The cast of characters manages to feel… is it okay if I say “human”? is that speciesist? Helsing is rather single-minded in her care for her patients, and while she is fool-hardy at times, she never enters TSTL territory.
I was delighted that the book didn’t have a romantic plot between Greta and the other human male in the little circle. (I truly do not hate romance in fantasy novels. I do, however, hate romance that feels like a distraction that was shoe-horned in rather than an organic part of the plot.) The book does, however, lay the groundwork for possible romance (though, given the characters, HOW? and WHY?) in future volumes.
The plot itself isn’t going to set your hair on fire, nor is there a clever twist/reveal at in the last act. (And no cliffhanger!) Shaw does a fine job of storytelling without overextending it. It gives me hope for the next installment of Helsing’s adventures.
I was given a complimentary copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.