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Saturdays in Books

Reviews of speculative fiction, YA, middle grade, and graphic novels, along with stray thoughts, links, and pictures.

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The SFWA European Hall of Fame: Sixteen Contemporary Masterpieces of Science Fiction from the Continent
Kathryn Morrow, James K. Morrow

Review: Strange Practice

Strange Practice - Vivian Shaw

So . . . from the cover and description, I totally did not get that this was set in present day London. Only now am I noticing the London Eye visible through the window. Expectations completely off. On the one hand, I do love that it isn't bare midriff, tits and ass both out somehow, knife holding, and all that, but on the other, I wonder how many UF readers will pass right over this cover.


Whatever. Marketing gonna market. 


A very interesting book, for sure. Not so much action packed as tense and domestic in a very satisfying way. It starts with Greta (and, thus the reader) learning of the existence of the primary protagonists and just goes straight into the plot rather than spend the first 20% establishing yet another unbroken masquerade world. She knows what is what and Shaw, wonderfully, doesn't waste time assuming we don't. While "physician to things that go bump in the night" feels quite fresh as  a premise, this book isn't so much about selling a novel UF concept as about giving the reader characters and friendships to care about. Let's save the day is ancillary to let's help each other and not do anything dumb that will get us killed.


She hits a lot of the points I look for in a UF heroine but spends most of this book being frustrated and begrudgingly accepting offers to help. She holds a job and doesn't magically get stronger because the plot requires it. She also isn't hit on by every man she meets, just some of them. Sadly, like too much UF I've read, this cast is heavily male. Greta is the only POV character who isn't a man. The villains are all male. She has two female friends who do help, but from almost exclusively off screen. And, of course, one of them gets hurt leading Greta with guilt for something other people did.




That said, the stuff I liked far outweighs the stuff I am tired of. I'm quite looking forward to the next book in this trilogy. A very satisfying read indeed.