Review: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger
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.
Spot a cover you really quite like, it’s dark and a little mysterious and yet not quite what you would normally be drawn to. Read the book description and think “now this is more like it” focusing on words like ‘hell-beast’ and ‘magical mixologists’. Now you have quite a large reading list so you check a few early reviews to be sure and they are raving about this book, so you make a request and jump in.
Then you spend the whole time you are reading thinking “Am I reading the same book as everyone else?”
I thought the premise was ace and haven’t seen anything along this line before. Mixologists (you know those clever bar staff who can mix cocktails aswell) are actually part of a secret society of magicians protecting the world from what is essentially alcoholic demons.
Once I started reading though I just found holes. The biggest being there was a severe lack in background and theory around the Tremens, the demon beasties the ‘bartenders’ are fighting. They become a bit of a mysterious black hole and I just got more and more confused and annoyed as the book went on wanting to know things like, What attracts them to alcohol? Why do they only attack at xyz? Why do they look like? Why this? Why that? Where do they come from? and on and on and on.
Secondly, our main character Bailey Chen is just very immature, she is supposedly a college grad but she comes across much more like a 13/14 year old who happens to work in a bar and drink alcohol. Her actions, speech all seem far younger than her early twenties age suggest and keeping up with her whining and scattered thought process became quite hard work and I found myself at times hoping this was one of those unusual books where the protagonist croaks it! That would have earned this book five stars!
Of the remaining cast of characters nobody stood out, nobody was particularly memorable although I think the intention and thought was there. With each character having quite different characteristics that just weren’t properly highlighted and built on. I know this is placed as a new adult and I’m in my thirties and so not new at the adult game but I couldn’t connect with these characters on any adult level at all, even the fully adult characters felt unreal.
I really didn’t like the inclusion of the cocktail recipes at the end of chapters either, they were so distracting from the story, which I was already struggling with. If the author wanted these included it would have been better as some bonus material at the end which people could choose to read if they wanted. I just found myself flicking through to get past the distraction.
Urban fantasy needs to feel realistic, we all know fantasy isn’t real but it needs to feel like it “could” happen. This just felt ridiculous, I wasn’t at all convinced by the events in this story, the demons or the ‘bartenders’. This book didn’t feel finished, it felt like there needed far more depth and suspense to really bring it into it’s own in the urban fantasy genre it is trying to enter.
A huge thanks to Paul Krueger and Quirk Books for the ARC via NetGalley so that I could read and honestly review this book.
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Title: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge
Author: Paul Krueger
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Quirk Books
Publication Date: 7 June 2016
Review Format: eBook
Other Formats: Paperback
Buy: Amazon Nook iBook