It hasn’t been that long since I first read this book, but the sequel is now out and I wanted to refresh my memory, and honestly I found Strange Practice just delightful. I adored what it did with the idea of a doctor for the monstrous/undead/etc, and I don’t know who would fail to smile at the idea of treating a banshee for a sore throat or a ghoul for depression (I’m not sure I agree with the choice of venlafaxine for the reasons actually mentioned — it’s nasty for withdrawal — but that’s by the by). I loved Ruthven and his concern for all the supernatural denizens of London, his hospitality and generosity, along with his little flaws and quirks. I loved the examination of what it might be like to be immortal, to be Ruthven or Varney or Fass: the years seeing other people die, the years of having to come up with something to do all the time.
I adore that Ruthven drove an ambulance in the Blitz, speaks a bunch of languages and knows how to darn socks. It just makes sense.
The plot itself is maybe less delightful, because hey, crazy cult, but the way the characters come together is glorious, and the climax of the story is just whoooa. The Devil himself shows up, and nothing is quite how you’d expect.
Greta Helsing, who is really the main character, is pretty awesome too. She’s the kind of doctor who recognises her duty to help people, but she’s also a brave young woman who is determined to do what she can, no matter what. She’s not perfect, and sometimes her reactions are very human — there’s a bit at the climax where she’s meant to be helping her friends, something goes wrong concurrently, and just… aaah.
Normally I can see why other people don’t like books (apart from personal taste stuff on the genre level), but I don’t really get it with this one. I enjoyed the heck out of it and I want some of my other friends (and my wife, hello dear) to read it soon so we can discuss Ruthven’s silk curtains and whether Varney is ever going to stop being melancholy.