Book review: Last Call At the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger

12 Jun

nightshade loungeCollege 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. 

So, who hasn’t felt like they could do anything when they’d had a cocktail or two?! This book is for all those cocktail lovers who’ve dreamed of being a superhero (or Buffy!) and is a quirky and fun urban fantasy story. Last Call At the Nightshade Lounge is a fun and original urban fantasy novel set in Chicago. Although the book falls into the ‘new adult’ age bracket, I think it would appeal to young adult and adult readers too and there is a good breadth of diverse characters with someone for everyone to root for! The story focuses on Bailey Chan. Bailey has just left university and is facing a number of new adult issues; finding her way in the world, finding her first job and hoping to escape from living with her Mom and Dad.

I liked Bailey from the start; she’s bright and clever and a little bit of an overachiever but not so much that it put me off and I loved her realistic take on the world. While Bailey works out what she’s going to do with her life, her high school friend Zane has found her a job as a bar back in his uncle’s bar and this is where the fun really starts. Bailey accidentally stumbles into the secret and ancient society of barkeepers that Zane’s uncle’s bar provides a cover for and discovers that cocktails really can be magical. Last Call At the Nightshade Lounge is a book for fans of TV series like Heroes and Buffy and I could see this as a TV series in its own right.

The chapters are faced paced and the blend of action, romance, magic and Bailey’s story is an excellent little cocktail in its own right. I love how Quirk Books make their books look special too. The story chapters in Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge are interspersed with pages and recipes from The Devil’s Water Dictionary – the cocktail manual that Bailey is given when she starts her undercover work protecting the citizens of Chicago from the horrible ‘tremens’.  These are all cocktails that you can actually make and there are 15 delicious sounding recipes for you to try from the Screwdriver to the White Russian. I loved the histories included about each drink and its creation and the manual pages not only gave depth to the story but added and extra dimension to the book.

As the story progresses it becomes clear that strange things are happening in Chicago and even the tremens are acting differently. The race is on to make the ultimate cocktail – a drink that will bestow immortality on its owner. As Halloween approaches Bailey and her new friends have their work cut out and as the tension built I couldn’t put this book down. I’ll be eagerly looking forward to Paul Krueger’s next novel!

4/5

Last Call At The Nightshade Lounge is out now in paperback and ebook formats from Quirk Books.

Find out more about Paul and his writing at: https://paulkrueger.net/

I’d like to thank Jamie at Quirk Books for providing me with a review copy of this novel.

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