RogerBW's Blog

Dreadful Company, Vivian Shaw 08 February 2023

2018 urban fantasy, second of its series. Dr Greta Helsing is in Paris for a conference on unnatural medicine. But other people are there too.

As with Strange Practice I ended up enjoying the idea of this book perhaps rather more than the actuality. Vampire wannabes in the Catacombs! The Palais Garnier as one of the metaphysical centres of the city! Time and space breaking down!

But nobody on the side of good ever seems to be terribly concerned. They don't worry about how to solve the big problems; they just have to decide what to do first, and which allies they need to call on. The most emotionally charged part is Greta vanishing, kidnapped by the vampires – and I'm glad to say that she does in fact manage to rescue herself by the time everyone else has worked out what's going on and where she must be – but that's the first of the problems to be resolved, which makes the remainder somewhat anticlimactic.

The cast is still male-heavy, if a bit less so than in Strange Practice; the found-family of all the good guys gets added to, and the basic morality that's the underpinning of this whole thing is solid. Greta gets to do a bit of doctoring, though I could have used more. Nobody acts vastly more stupid than they should. But the whole thing feels flat in a way that the first book managed to rise above; there's a small bit of emotional progress, but our heroes never feel seriously stretched or challenged by what's going on here.

After all the troubles of Greta getting someone to cover her practice while she was hiding last time, it seems like a relatively minor thing here for her to be away for several unscheduled days. Frankly I think I'd have been happier if this book had been about Greta's practice; that's the thing that Shaw brings to the urban fantasy table that hasn't been done to death before.

Fun, but I felt it could have been so much more.

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Previous in series: Strange Practice | Series: Dr Greta Helsing | Next in series: Grave Importance

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