Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge
By Paul Krueger
Paperback, 281 pages
2016, Quirk Books
Expected Publication Date: June 7, 2016
I received this book for free from Quirk Books in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All opinions in this post are my own.
Bailey Chen has graduated college and, like many typical graduates, has ended up moving back in with her parents, with no money and no job. An old friend, Zane, offers her a position as a bar back at his Uncle’s Chicago bar, Bailey jumps at the chance. When she decides to sneak a drink on the job and it starts glowing, Bailey finds there’s more to the bartending job than she ever imagined. Turns out there are magical types of alcohol that the local bartenders are consuming to help them battle the nightmare demons that literally drink the life from unsuspecting patrons.
This book was clever and funnier than I expected. Krueger’s infusion of urban fantasy with bartending lore made for a unique read. I liked Bailey’s character – she was a relatable college grad, a bit down on her luck and her smarts and degree underutilized, yet she kept a positive attitude and was determined to make the best of her new job – especially after she learned it involved fighting monsters. I also like that she stuck to her beliefs and fought for what she felt was right, even when it seemed like she was fighting alone.
Bailey, Zane and Vincent were the most fleshed out characters. I feel like the other secondary characters were a little flat and I would have liked to know more about how they came to be part of the elite realm of demon-slaying bartenders. Krueger has put a lot of thought into this world, giving different types of liquor their own base powers and each cocktail its own magical effect (for example a martini will make you invisible) to help the drinker fight the powers of darkness. He even created a Cupbearers Court that rules over those who mix magical cocktails.
The book also contains real recipes from The Devil’s Water Dictionary (a mystical bartender’s bible), that regular old folks like you and me can use to mix our own drinks (magic not included) and witty “historical” commentary about each recipe and the origin of its elements.
This was a refreshing (pun?!) urban fantasy and I certainly hope there’s a sequel because I deeply enjoyed the effortless and humorous way Kruger told his tale. If you’re looking for something funky, funny, and alcohol based, check out Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge.