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Summary

Meet Greta Helsing, doctor to the undead. After inheriting a highly specialised and highly peculiar medical practice, Dr Helsing spends her days treating London's undead for a host of ills: vocal strain in banshees, arthritis in barrow-wights and entropy in mummies.

Although barely making ends meet, this is just the quiet, supernatural-adjacent life Greta's dreamed of since childhood. But when a sect of murderous monks emerges, killing human and undead alike, Greta must use all her unusual skills to keep her supernatural clients - and the rest of London - safe.

©2017 Vivian Shaw (P)2017 Little Brown Book Group

Critic reviews

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

What members say

Average customer ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    76
  • 4 Stars
    70
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    19
  • 2 Stars
    11
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Performance

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    78
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    42
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    27
  • 2 Stars
    8
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    4

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Bit of a disappointment.

Would you try another book written by Vivian Shaw or narrated by Suzannah Hampton?

It is probably a no to both the author and the narrator. I was not a giant fan of either of them.

What will your next listen be?

Not the sequel to this one that is for sure. I'll probably head back to the epic fantasy or sci-fi genre. I hate to put the boot too hard into this book as the truth is I have way more misses than hits when I venture into the Urban Fantasy genre.

How could the performance have been better?

I feel like Suzannah Hampton did a poor job with the audio. She had a clear voice and was well-spoken but had no talent for voice acting. She just read everything in a dull monotone and made little to no distinction between regular prose and dialogue.

Another big issue was the way the POV transitions were handled in audio. There was no pause between switches which was actually a little confusing. A tiny pause would have made it clear a POV transition was occurring.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Just boredom and vague sense of disappointment that this one was not working for me as I do feel like the premise of the story was a good one.

Any additional comments?

I felt like the story had potential but the execution was poor. Shaw's writing felt weirdly formal and distant which made it hard for me to connect with any of the characters. Despite the fact that Greta is the headline character this book had more of an ensemble cast as the POV's jumped from Greta to her fellow cultist trackers. Lord Ruthven, a regular vampire. Francis Varney, a vampyre. Fastitocalon, a demon. All three are characters from literature Shaw has repurposed for the story! I actually felt like all the character had decent potential which only made it more frustrating that this story never worked for me.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great story, wrong narrator

What did you like best about Strange Practice? What did you like least?

I loved the whole idea of the tale, thought the narrator was so wrong for it

Who was your favorite character and why?

The odd Demon character (Vas?), he was complex and strange, sadly hated the way his name was pronounced so fully most of the time.

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Suzannah Hampton?

S.H's voice was too monotonous, nice, well modulated but too even and crisp all the way through, no humour at all. A narrator with more inflection, maybe able to change pace a bit? Maybe someone who could inject a humorous pace, alter voice slightly for different characters?

Could you see Strange Practice being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?

Kirsten Dunst, Aiden Turner (vamp), Michael Fassbender(Vamp or demon), Sendhil Ramamurthy (Sam), Robert Carlisle

Any additional comments?

I listened to it all the way through because the story is good. I began to wish I'd read it though. The narration was wearing, every sentence started with sharp enfaces, regardless of the action. Reminded me of an actor trying too hard to add drama to a boring speech. I would not recommend this as an audible listen, but as a book to read.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great story, poor production

I really liked this book. The story was good and I enjoyed the normality of the relationship between the so-called monsters and Greta.
The narration was enjoyable in my opinion. She had a beautiful voice and I just love an English accent. True, it was a little confusing at times, to figure out who said what but not enough to detract much from the story. The production, however, was poor! There was no pauses between sections at all. It was very confusing to go from one location to a completely different one in both space, time, and people without any transition.
All in all a very enjoyable story and I look forward to listening to the second book in the series.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Good story, pity about the reader

A modern vampire story. Exciting and imaginative although our Dr Greta, a professional physician, has the emotions of a teenager. However although Suzannah Hampton has a lovely voice, it's the same lovely voice for everyone, even though we are told that one character has an American accent, another a Scottish accent, and others who can only speak broken English.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Frustrating

Absolutely awful narration. Stuffy and lacking in vitality. The narrator seems more concerned with correct diction than providing an enjoyable experience for the listener. It was like being read to by a particularly joyless accountant.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

AWFUL BORING UNSUITABLE NARRATOR

Cannot listen to this, the narrator is utterly unsuitable to read this type of genre and makes the story bland boring and yawn material. Returning for refund. Will never ever waste my money or credits buying books read by Suzannah Hampton for she reads like she is studying her shopping list. She absolutely ruins good books.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

What a book

After what was a pretty slow start this story took off

Compelling characters and a wonderfully described world the author aced them both

I can’t wait for the next one

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Potential for more....(please?)

I really liked this book, characters & style.

The idea of the "monsters" living alongside us unbeknownst to us appeals to my imagination. Hiding in plain sight as it were.

I feel the author definitely has ammunition to write some more from the dark hidden underworld and could easily spin off in different directions or perspectives. The characters have a slightly gothic, vintage feel to them, but they are reluctantly creeping into modern ways.

I like that the main character befriends and heals the "monsters" and its a family tradition. The idea of odd friendships that work despite being different species is slightly different I feel as they are normally portrayed as baddies.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Engaging and enjoyable

Very glad that I took a chance on this, as it proved to be delightfully entertaining with an engaging group of characters whose future exploits I look forward to reading of in the books I hope will follow this one.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A very promising debut

Plenty to enjoy in this novel which cries out for further instalments. Something like a fractured horror-tale, with a wink and a nod to classic horror tales the characters are fresh and modern takes on themes such as the vampiire (or vampire), mummies, a driven scientist, a museum curator, ghouls banshees, secret cabals of mad monks, the devil, etc. The pace is lively without being hectoring. There is time to set up the story and plenty to keep you interested as it happens. Some of the characters are barely sketched in. I look forward to hearing more about the witch and the half-Russalka who help out at the surgery. I hope their frequent mentions mean that Ms Shaw is well into writing Book 2.

Greta is a bit myopic, to ensure the requisite dangerous situations. I worried about her driving when she had barely slept in days, for example. Her willingness to feel guilty for things that have nothing to do with her is a bit tiresome. Overall it's interesting to have a protagonist who heals monsters rather than slating them (mostly). The minor theme that life is better with friends, and the relationships that develop between secondary characters - not just with Greta - give the story a welcome upbeat flavour, amid the dark doings & deaths.

If you enjoy Ben Aronovitch, Benedict Jacka, Ilona Andrews, or Faith Hunter this is likely to appeal. Or Grimm or Penny Dreadful tv shows.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Alex
  • 03-09-18

Wrong narrator - returning

I like the premise, but I just cannot handle listening to this narrator. If this was released again with a different narrator, I'd give it another go.