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Vivian Shaw Books In Order

Publication Order of Dr. Greta Helsing Books

Strange Practice (2017) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Dreadful Company (2018) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Grave Importance (2019) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Vivian Shaw is a Kenyan born American author horror books best known for her Dr. Greta Helsing series. She was born in Kenya; spend her childhood in the United Kingdom before moving to the United States at the age of seven. She has a BA degree in art history and a master of fine arts in creating writing & publishing arts. She has served in academic development and publishing while researching everything from the history of reactor design to spaceflight to supernatural physiology and mountaineering disasters. During her free time, she likes to sew, draw, collect vintage cookbooks, make jewelry, collect fountain pens, and write fanfiction.

Strange Practice

Strange Practice is the first Dr. Greta Helsing series. The series introduces us to Dr. Greta Helsing, a lady hailing from a long line of monster experts, though her family has long dropped the “Van” from their name. She follows her father’s footsteps, she works as a doctor serving the supernatural’s and provides care for London’s population of undead creatures, with her patients ranging from mummies to vampires.

One day the doctor receives a request for assistance from a vampire friend named Ruthven who brings her a rather delicate case. Another vampire has been brutally injured, and the vampire is no more other than Sir Francis Varney. He has been stabbed by a cross-shaped blade following a home invasion at his home by an unidentified person with glowing blue eyes in monk robes. Immediately, Dr. Greta senses something this attack and not because the vampire is unable to heal from his wound. After stabilizing the wounded vampire, Greta and her friends focus their efforts on finding the person behind the attack. At the same time, there is a Jack like the ripper on the loose, killing prostitutes and leaving plastic rosaries on the dead bodies. Even though the killing methodologies are different, our heroine is concerned that the recent series of killing and the deadly attack Varney could be connected, and soon the fears are confirmed when doctor Greta becomes the victim of the blue-eyed attacker herself.

Strange Practice story is set in modern London, but due to writing style, a cover and writing style that strangely resemble Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, the book does have a Victorian feel. This is mostly encouraged by a vampire hailing from the sixteenth century and are prone to be rather old fashioned. The narration itself is shared amongst several characters, but initially, it focuses on the heroine, Greta, the doctor attending to the undead in London’s underworld. She is a fairly competent character, focused and determined to get things done even when her life is in danger. You will enjoy how she handles the attack.

Two other prominent characters in the story are Lestat and Sir Francis Varney who draw their inspiration from two historical fiction vampires. One of the best but underused hooks in the story is Greta’s job as a physician to the undead community. In this story, the focus is on Varney’s care after he is attacked and brutally injured, then caring for other members of the supernatural community. There is a short interlude where doctor Greta returns to the office and call a local mummy, discussing with the mummy about the upcoming operation for foot-bone replacement. The writing style is done perfectly. The style resembles that of Clare North one of the most renowned authors in the contemporary world today. Overall, if you enjoy reading urban fantasy, solid mystery, and gothic horror stories with memorable characters, then Strange Practice is the real deal.

Dreadful Company

The second book in Dr. Greta Helsing series picks up from where the first book Strange Practice left off, and once again we meet the heroine, doctor Greta a London based doctor and monster expert to the city’s population of supernatural creatures. This time around, she is summoned to Paris, where she is supposed to speak at a paranormal medical conference.

Just your normal travel for work, and nothing out of the ordinary, she prepares for a night out with her friend vampire Edmund Ruthven, who has accompanied her for the trip. Unbeknown to them though, Paris underground is flooded with a coven of rowdy vampires and have been planning some evil for her arrival.
First, the doctor encounters a little gremlin-like creature known as a well monster when taking a shower in her motel bathroom. Its appearance is surprising because well monsters are not often seen unless someone summons them. Soon, more well monsters are sighted. Coming into conclusion that the creatures warrant more investigation, Greta decides to stay behind while her friend Ruthven takes a flight back to England. But before she can get any further with her investigations, she is kidnapped by the rogue vampires whose their leader is a nasty man named Corvin. In the meantime back in London, Greta’s disappearance is soon noticed by her best friend Ruthven and her patient Francis Varney- a character introduced in the first book. The two set off to find her and begin searching for Paris for clues.

Dreadful Company, the second novel in the series, is an exciting read. Like in the series debut novel, the characterization is beautifully done. The world building is one of the intriguing elements that remain strong in the series so far. There is an interesting mix of new and old where the reader is treated to an eclectic mix of literary monsters in a modern-day London and Paris. France’s capital, Paris does add charm to the story as Vivian Shaw tosses in some deferential nods and references to different French classics. She has expanded her world with new interesting characters.

A bit of magic and novelty has somehow faded since the series debut novel. But that part is understandable because there is a sense that the second book in the series is more about reinforcing the themes and ideas that have already been introduced and established by the author allowing the reader to settle into the world comfortably.

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