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Strange Practice: A Dr Greta Helsing Novel by [Shaw, Vivian]
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Strange Practice: A Dr Greta Helsing Novel Kindle Edition


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Length: 400 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

This book is a joy to read, unlocking every bit of delicious promise in the premise (B&N SCI-FI & FANTASY BLOG)

A darkly delicious adventure featuring a quirky new heroine. Strange Practice breathes new life into the undead (James Bennett, author of CHASING EMBERS)

Strange Practice surprises and delights. It's completely different from anything I've read before. It ticks so many boxes: action, mystery, suspense, an exciting and different world adjacent to our own to name but a few. But the greatest elements of the book are the characters. They shine (BOOKBAG)

Strange Practice is a book that really enchanted me from the very first page . . . impossible to put down . . . 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 . . . Strange Practice is a homerun in every aspect (BOOKWORM BLUES)

Readers will look forward to more of Greta's adventures. An imaginative, delightfully droll debut (KIRKUS)

What a splendid adventure this is - Dr Greta Helsing is a brilliant character . . . The underlying mystery is nicely twisty, and Dr Helsing has a quirky coterie of undead friends to aid her on her quest . . . promises to be a splendid new urban fantasy series (ESPRESSO COCO)

An exceptional and delightful debut, in the tradition of Good Omens (Elizabeth Bear)

An appropriately dark breath of fresh air . . . Greta is a refreshing urban fantasy heroine, strong and smart and utterly normal, despite her chosen profession. Readers who enjoy urban fantasy and are getting tired of cookie-cutter female protagonists will find this a pleasant surprise (BOOKLIST)

A satisfying and surprising read, with rich imagery, nuance, and real compassion for its characters - give Strange Practice a shot! (Elliott James, author of CHARMING)

Written with elegance, wit, and compassion. The prose is gorgeous, the wit is mordant, and the ideas are provocative. Also, there are ghouls (Laura Amy Schlitz, author of FIRE SPELL)

In Vivian Shaw's Strange Practice, a charmingly unusual doctor and her charges keep the city of London from grave danger. In the process, they peel back the covers of familiar (and according to them, somewhat 'libelous') stories to find that reality - especially with the undead - is more poignant and complex than it seems at first glance. An excellent adventure' (Fran Wilde, author of UPDRAFT)

Book Description

The first book in a contemporary fantasy series that introduces the fast-talking Greta Helsing, doctor to London's supernatural community.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1942 KB
  • Print Length: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit (25 July 2017)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01N01YL1B
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #20,836 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars 19 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Its purpose...is to generate hate and fear to feed its unending hunger." 13 April 2017
By booklover10 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Thirty-four year old Dr. Greta Helsing has her hands full. It's not easy dealing with the "differently alive"--vampires, ghouls, banshees, mummies, and the like--who need discreet medical attention from a sympathetic practitioner. Various creatures regularly visit Greta's Harley Street clinic in London to seek cures for whatever ails them. Dr. Helsing does not get rich from pursuing this unusual vocation, but she does have the satisfaction of knowing that her patients appreciate the empathetic and competent care she provides.

In "Strange Practice," by Vivian Shaw, Greta and her cronies are pitted against a fanatical cult of murderous monks who want to rid London of its "unclean" inhabitants. The murky plot does not hold up under intense scrutiny, but Shaw entertains us with her vivid descriptive writing and delightfully eccentric and colorful cast of characters. They include our heroine, a kindhearted and hardworking physician whose already exhausting life is about to take an unpleasant detour; Edmund Ruthven, a debonair and wealthy vampire who is as generous and intelligent as he is charismatic; Fastitocalon (Fass for short), a demon who promised Greta's father that he'd look after her; and Sir Francis Varney, a vampyre (with a "y"), who is in critical condition after a crazed attacker stabs him with a cross-shaped dagger.

Shaw's novel may be enjoyed on a number of levels. It is an imaginative and original depiction of an alternate universe that is invisible to most humans. Moreover, the author makes Greta's monster pals benign and sympathetic, and imbues them with unique and useful powers. "Strange Practice" has suspense, graphic scenes of torture and violence, and an apocalyptic confrontation, with the promise of more to come when the series continues. This is a satirical, witty, and atmospheric fantasy that will amuse readers who enjoy far-out fiction with a liberal dose of offbeat humor.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars School of Fan-Fic Honors Grad 27 May 2017
By Blake Fraina - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars All Creatures Great and Small 28 April 2017
By Ann Elliot - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A vampire, a vampyre and a demon. What should a reader expect from a story that includes these three characters?

Action-adventure? No, there are long stretches when not much happens. And so many inconsistencies and illogical turns that I'd look up from the book now and then and say "Huh?"

Maybe a horror story? No. The trio is urbane, immaculately attired, avuncular, wealthy (imagine hundreds of years to work on your investment portfolio) and capable of loyal friendships with humans, extending to acting as godfather to the children of close human friends.

What is this book, then? I don't know, exactly, but what I enjoyed was the premise. Dr. Greta Helsing, physician to London's supernatural population, and a 20-something young man employed by the British Museum round out the cast. The five band together to fight Evil. They are a charming bunch and so very British. They have the stiffest of upper lips, and although wildly curious about the details of being a vampire, vampyre or demon, they would never infringe upon each other's privacy to ask personal questions. When faced with horrific forces of evil, they say "If we're going to have a council of war, we might as well have a nice cup of tea while we are doing it."

(Spoiler-Ish ahead) Even the Devil, when he makes a cameo appearance, is dressed in a netherworld equivalent of a Savile Row tailored suit. He is self-deprecating and apologetic about evil unleashed upon humans.

I wish Shaw would forget trying to assemble a sensible plot for her books and follow the lead of James Herriot's "All Creatures Great and Small." She could even keep the same title, while using that format to let Greta tell tales in vignette form from her casebook of non-human patients. I'd love to read that book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit pedestrian but with potential 28 Jun. 2017
By J. Wiles Parker - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Often while reading Strange Practice, I felt I was on a Sunday stroll with the characters. Shaw has a good idea of what her world is about (I think, anyway), but needs more practice conveying her vision to readers. Her writing trends more toward exposition when it should lean toward plot at times. Then, at other times, there is a need for more world building or character development. Several times I was disoriented as to who the characters really are and the world they really inhabit. That said, this is a functional urban fantasy with hints of the gruesome and macabre. The characters are intriguing if not always distinguishable from each other - some have nearly impossible pronounce names, too. I would like to have more specifics since Strange Practice comes off more as the author feeling out the story herself at points. There's potential down the line if the author is willing to put in the work.
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun, refreshing supernatural read perfect for summer 27 Jun. 2017
By titania86 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
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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