Title: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge
Author: Paul Krueger
Genre: NA/urban fantasy
Date Read: 05/06/2016
Thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This book gets a whole lot of points for diversity and a bunch more for being a whole lot of fun!
Bailey Chen has a degree from an Ivy League university, but that hasn’t ensured her a job. Despite awkwardness between them, her childhood best friend, Zane, is able to pull some strings and get her a job at the Nightshade Lounge, the same bar he works at. When she accidentally concocts a perfect screwdriver using a special variety of vodka and gives herself super strength, which allows her to fight off a demon that comes after her, she is initiated into the Alechemists, a team of bartenders who fight demons using cocktails that give them special powers. But perhaps supernatural demons aren’t the only demons they should be fighting…
I mentioned diversity up above, and this book really does tick a lot of good boxes. Bailey is Chinese, another character, Mona, black, and there are both gay and transgender characters as well. These facts are referenced, but they are not part of the plot. These characters are fighting demons, and just happen have these identities as well.
I really liked Bailey, and her insecurities regarding employment, and the way she is treated by the other bartenders. She’s got a good head on her shoulders, which others tend not to notice, and this leads to her own self-doubt. I really liked her relationship with Vincent, her blind mentor (he was also awesome by the way) and the fact that her relationship with Zane was believably complicated. The other characters were well-drawn, too. Zane has some misplaced loyalties going on, while Mona is a woman of few words. I don’t want to say much about the villains because I’ll give things away, but for the fun, rollicking story this was, I thought they were well established in both crimes and motives.
As for the world-building. Let’s just say I’m surprised no one’s thought of alcohol-induced magic/super powers before. I loved the inclusion of excerpts from The Devil’s Water Dictionary, with advice on the history of the magical cocktails and how to brew them correctly so that they will manifest their powers. It was particularly good for someone like me who rarely drinks alcohol and would therefore struggle to identify the majority of drinks named throughout the book.
I read this pretty much in one sitting. If you’re looking for a fun urban adventure to read on a rainy afternoon, I suggest giving this one a try. Official release is tomorrow, June 07.