By Vivian Shaw
Paperback, 399 pages
Greta Helsing is visiting Paris for a medical conference on the undead with her family friend, and vampire, Ruthven. Strange creatures start appearing in Greta’s hotel room and when Ruthven has to leave, Greta decides to speak to the local werewolf and honorary mayor of Paris about her hunch that something else is going on. Before she can meet up with the werewolf however, she’s kidnapped by a coven of uncivilized vampires who are living in the catacombs and whose leader is dead set on getting revenge against Ruthven.
As with the first book, Strange Practice, I was charmed by the characters and impressed with the way Shaw fits paranormal monsters into our modern world.
Picking up shortly after where the first book left off, Greta is off to Paris to fill in at a conference for a friend who is under the weather. She’s not thrilled, but figures a few days in Paris and a night at the opera with Ruthven won’t be too bad. But when a little frog-like monster with a penchant for hoarding shiny things appears in her bathroom sink and later disappears without a clue as to how it arrived, Greta has a feeling the trip won’t be a simple one. The next night she’s confronted by another monster in her room, hairy but harmless. These lead her to seek out Alceste St. Germain, werewolf and paranormal guardian of Paris, only she’s kidnapped by a coven of vampires first. Their leader, Corvin, has a bone to pick with Ruthven and after Greta was spotted at the opera with him, Corvin thinks he’s found a way to get revenge on his long-time enemy.
What I love about Shaw’s books is the way she blends the paranormal world with our own. The “monsters” in her books, for the most part, are looking to integrate with or hide from human society. This coven is breaking the rules of polite society but feasting on the locals, turning new vampires and now kidnapping Greta. These aren’t books about humans vs. monsters – the local vampires and werewolves and other creatures in Paris aren’t happy about this rogue coven either. I enjoy how Greta and the paranormal community as a whole are on the same side.
Greta spends a large part of the book in captivity, but she still held my attention. There are even a few scenes where she’s able to demonstrate her professional abilities as doctor to otherworldly creatures. Plus the other characters get a chance in the spotlight and there’s a sort of subplot that centers around The Phantom of the Opera, which was neat. I also really loved the little swamp frog monsters. We’re introduced to more side characters, two of whom I found particularly interesting, especially their careers within in the paranormal community.
This series is a lot of fun and the focus on the found family theme is a comforting one. As Ruthven says:
“…you can make your own family, with the people you find along the way, and the home you will come to is the one you will build yourself.”
I’ve got to point out however (because apparently it’s my new mission) that Shaw uses the dreaded line! “Greta let out a breath she hadn’t actually been aware of holding…”
I feel like this line has been trolling me lately.
Clichéd line aside, Dreadful Company is an excellent sequel to Strange Practice and if you’re looking for some modern paranormal fantasy, I highly recommend it. I’m excited to see where the series goes!
Also, Will Staehle continues to kill it with these covers and intro illustrations: