cover image Grave Importance

Grave Importance

Vivian Shaw. Orbit, $15.99 trade paper (448p) ISBN 978-0-316-43465-2

Shaw’s delightful third novel featuring Dr. Greta Helsing (after Dreadful Company) is a quirky medical mystery that takes the reader to the streets of New York and Rome; a secret, exclusive French spa for mummies; and Dr. Faust’s hospital in Hell. Greta is invited to become the interim medical director for the spa, Oasis Natrun, but her enjoyment in working with its high-tech setup is overshadowed by the dangerous fainting fits suddenly plaguing several of her physically fragile undead patients. Romance abounds as relationships begun in earlier books—between Greta and the vampyre Sir Francis Varney and between the vampires Edmund Ruthven and Grisaille—and a tender new connection flourishes between two Earthbound angels, grounding Shaw’s community of outcasts. The creative worldbuilding around magically enhanced mummy medicine and mystical Egyptology hits just the right note, and her bold story engages the powers of Heaven, Hell, and everything in between while maintaining a character-centered, intimate approach that keeps the reader deeply involved. Readers will hope they haven’t seen the last of Greta and her crew. Agent: Stephen Barbara, InkWell Management. (Oct.)