Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Release Day Review: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger

26067633Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge
Paul Krueger
Release: June 7, 2016
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A sharp and funny urban fantasy for “new adults” about a secret society of bartenders who fight monsters with alcohol fueled magic.

College grad Bailey Chen has a few demons: no job, no parental support, and a rocky relationship with Zane, the only friend who’s around when she moves back home. But when Zane introduces Bailey to his cadre of monster-fighting bartenders, her demons get a lot more literal. Like, soul-sucking hell-beast literal. Soon, it’s up to Bailey and the ragtag band of magical mixologists to take on whatever—or whoever—is behind the mysterious rash of gruesome deaths in Chicago, and complete the lost recipes of an ancient tome of cocktail lore.
Bartenders are more or less nocturnal and they're often regarded as people who've seen it all. It makes sense that they would know about the things that go bump in the night. These bartenders fight demons on the streets of Chicago but unlike a lot of demon slayers, they can have different powers, like telekinesis or super strength, every time depending on which cocktail they drink before the battle. Watching them figure out how to use those powers made each battle new and exciting. This is such a fun book!

Bailey returns from college and takes a job in a bar run by her childhood best friend. The strange behavior of the bartenders and her curiosity about their secret liquor stash lead her to accidentally discover the world of magic. Bailey then has to decide if she wants to join their cause or follow her old dreams. New adult can be tricky for me, but I found Bailey's struggle with being just out of college and looking for a way to use her degree very relatable. It's not so different from trying to change careers in your thirties.

I also loved the secondary characters. Bucket is just all kinds of interesting! And I think we've all met someone like Trent, the anime-obsessed barista who speaks Japanese to Bailey despite her repeated reminders that she's actually Chinese. There's even some political intrigue involving the bartenders' governing council and their old grudges.

The end of each chapter shows pages from The Devil's Water Dictionary, the bartending manual, with the recipe for the drink featured in that chapter, how its magic works and its history. I did wish that more of the history and the magic system were explained - I wonder if there are any other kinds of demons and where they come from. Everything that we learn about bartending is from The Devil's Water Dictionary. But there is an explanation in the book about how the art had been lost for years and is just being rediscovered. So we know everything that Bailey does and learn along with her. I just hope there's another book so she and I can both learn more.

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge is a quick read. I finished it in the afternoon and for the rest of the day I kept wanting to pick it back up and keep reading. If you're looking for a fun, fast summer read, I highly recommend it.

Recommended for fans of: cocktails, Buffy (and other girls who kick ass)

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley


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