Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw has an immediately grabbable premise — Dr. Greta Helsing is a monster doctor — that it uses to show a gripping battle to save the world among some unlikely allies.
I really like Greta’s determination to keep her practice going in spite of money issues, time struggles, and difficult but rewarding work. She treats her patients well, and their unique issues are fascinating. I would have been happy just following her around, without the world-threatening crisis, so we could see her specialty treating the differently alive.
Her long-time patient and friend is Edmund Ruthven, who introduces her to an ailing Sir Francis Varney. Although both vampires, they are different kinds of draculines, with the older having a lunar sensitivity. (And I like that Shaw has thought through this kind of analysis.)
He’s been attacked by a group of monks with burning eyes, but it turns out there’s more behind them than just religious dedication. Once the doctor and her allies find out just how bad the situation is, they’re aided by a demon who’s become an accounting clerk, a British Museum conservator, and a tribe of underground ghouls.
It’s a pleasure that there’s a good deal of humor in the midst of the horror, with Ruthven’s hobbies of shopping or writing letters to the editor — hey, an immortal has to come up with some way to entertain himself. I also liked the portrait of melancholia amongst the immortal, with Shaw treating not just physical ailments but also psychological where indicated.
There’s a sequel, Dreadful Company, coming this summer. I’m eager to see it.