Tag Archives: Vivian Shaw

Book Review: “Dreadful Company” by Vivian Shaw

Dreadful Company by Vivian Shaw

Dreadful Company is a sequel to Strange Practice (2017), which introduced the super-ultra-plucky Dr. Greta Helsing .  Dr. H. is the daughter of the famous Von Helsing, and one of the few medical professionals in England who specialize in “monsters”.

In this story, Greta pops over to Paris for a conference and—surprise!—becomes enmeshed with supernatural troubles.  Paris does not yield prominence to London in the area of underground mysteries (catacombs, fer heaven’s sake!), ancient ghosts (including Jim Morrison, Frederick Chopin, and Oscar Wilde), and peculiar architecture.

As in London, Greta and her interesting array of “monstrous” allies, must deal with horrors below, and the all too common rips in dimensions, time, and space.

Greta is no ordinary mortal, equaling and quivering with fear.  She is a medical professional, dedicated to healing and helping any being in need.  She helps injured and overdosed vampires, even if they are dangerous and threatening.

She is also preternaturally curious about supernatural life, physiology, and medicine. Encountering a little know species of “well monsters”, her response is “I should write a paper about my observations.”

I don’t know of many other books that evoke both deep anger at evil and deep sympathy for the evil ones at the same time.  That’s part of Greta’s magic.  (And it’s anything but dreadful!)

  1. Vivian Shaw, Dreadful Company: A Dr. Greta Hesing Novel, New York, Orbit, 2018.


Sunday Book Reviews

Housekeeping: First Quarter Roundup

This quarter saw the usual discussions of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology and sociology.  There are an increasing amount of academic studies of this technology (finally!), which are producing important findings.  Not that the enthusiasts are paying attention.

There is also a constant stream of discoveries and studies of dinosaurs and ancient birds, which I enjoy reading.

And, as usual, I regularly review books I have recently read.


The Tangled Lands by Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias S. Buckell
Good Guys by Steven Brust
The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani
The Cackle of Cthulhu edited by Alex Shvartsman
A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman
Bonfire by Krysten Ritter
Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw
The Pope of Palm Beach by Tim Dorsey
The Man From The Diogenes Club by Kim Newman
The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker
Dark State by Charles Stross
The Bomb Maker by Thomas Perry
Quillifer by Walter Jon Williams
Celestial Mechanics by William Least Heat-Moon

Non fiction

How To Plan A Crusade by Christopher Tyerman
The Earth is Weeping by Peter Cozzens
Ada’s Algorithm by James Essinger

The ongoing list of great names for a band continues, inspired by Dave Barry. Here are a bunch, mostly taken from real scientific or technical papers.

The Adversarial Patches
Psychedelic toasters (this one has probably has already been used)
Judicious Design of Nanofins
        (or perhaps, Righteous Design of Nanofins or just Nanofins)
Rapid genome downsizing
Diffusivity of Water in Air
The Gymnosperms
Pulsar Positioning System
Galactic Positioning System
Mushroom Body
A Spritz of Octopamine
Hebbian Learning
The Possible Ecologies of Mars
Ornament Evolution



Book Review: “Strange Practice” by Vivian Shaw

Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw

Vampires and other uncanny monsters in London.  Again. The latest generation of Van Helsings (they dropped the “van” during the War).  Yawn.

Well, actually, Shaw crafts a charming story from these unpromising ingredients, which I really liked.

The “monsters” in question are mostly pretty nice, if rather angsty.  (When you are hundreds of years old, you can get tired of everything.)

Greta Helsing is a doctor, with a specialized practice serving the supernatural inhabitants of London.  Who knew that vampires et al have health problems?  Who knew that human medicine is even partly useful for those problems?

In any case, Dr. Helsing is a truly dedicated healer, deeply caring about her patients however “different” they are.  People are people, and we certainly come to worry about her and her charges.

The story unfolds as something nasty is terrorizing London, killing humans and non-humans alike.  Greta and some rather astonishing old family friends are assaulted and must track down and eliminate this supernatural peril. Along the way, she meets a variety of extremely interesting Londoners, who pull together in common cause to overcome this extremely dangerous threat.

I gather that this book garnered considerable praise when first published, which is deserved. I haven’t read Shaw before, but if this is representative, I look forward to more from her.  (Her blog is intriguing, if not completely understandable.)

  1. Vivian Shaw, Strange Practice: A Dr. Greta Helsing Novel, New York Orbit Books, 2017.


Sunday Book Reviews