Book Review: Strange Practice

Amazon Cover

Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw


The first book in a delightfully witty fantasy series in which Dr. Greta Helsing, doctor to the undead, must defend London from both supernatural ailments and a bloodthirsty cult

Greta Helsing inherited her 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 she barely makes 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.



My book club came across this gem: a bright urban fantasy with medical overtones. I’ve always enjoyed science fictions stories with medical woven in (See the Sector General series by James White and Stardoc by S.L. Viehl), so I looked forward to this one.

Dr. Greta Helsing works in a specialized General Practitioner area, helping the undead and monsters of her community. A housecall ends up with an emergency surgery for an allergic reaction to an embedded object. Investigation into the allergen to see if it could be a problem to her service community reveals an ancient medieval society reorganized and determined to solve the “unclean” problem once and for all – among monsters AND normal humans. And Dr. Helsing is first on their list, because they don’t need the monsters healed.

Good solid story. Everything I hoped for.


For those interested in editing and writing continue here – note lots of spoilers as this concentrates on the end of the story – which has some great writing lessons: (1) By the book Climax of Action bringing all the heroes to their knees at the same time after carefully separating then into smaller chunks. Perfect killing them in isolation. (2) After the heroes “win”, we face the Dark Night of Soul moment – giving a wonderful pain in the emotional journey of the primary heroine. (3) Then falling action ties up the lose end for an emotionally satisfying ending in the final chapter and epilogue. … A very formulaic ending hitting everything perfectly brought out how good the book is throughout the story at meeting the readers expectations of an Urban Fantasy story. If you want to know how to write a story or help someone with development, use this book as an instruction manual.