“Booze is universal, it brings people together, and a lot of times it results in the creation of more people. What could be more magical than something that does all that?”
When Quirk sent me a copy of My Best Friend’s Exorcism, they also threw in the ARC for a book I hadn’t heard of called Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge, which is about bartenders who fight monsters with cocktails that give them magical properties. I cannot even explain to you how in my wheelhouse this is. And of course, it ended up being DELIGHTFUL. I already want to re-read it. It comes out June 7th and I’m telling you now – you should go get it.
Bailey Chen is back home from college, trying hard to put her degree to good use and find a job. Her old best friend Zane helps her out by getting her a job at his uncle’s bar, the Nightshade Lounge. And all of the sudden she learns that gross skinless monsters are stalking the streets of Chicago and that the best way to fight them is with cocktails that give the drinker magical powers. It seems something is riling the monsters up, and now Bailey is part of a clandestine group of people protecting innocent humans from these monsters with their best and only weapon – booze.
I was in a constant state of “tickled” this entire book. Can you imagine if vodka-based drinks really gave you super strength? Or if whiskey drinks gave you telekinetic powers? Giiiiirl. I’d be drinking every night. I’d be a top mixologist in no time. And the one legendary drink that would bestow the most incredible power if anyone ever mastered it? The Long Island Iced Tea. I can’t even, this is just fabulous.
Now maybe I’m just easily amused at the concept of magical drinks, but the cast of characters is pretty great too. Bailey is a young woman most can relate to, just trying to get her shit together. Zane is kind of a dork, but Mona is a quiet badass and Bucket is just a riot. He’s probably my favorite, with his super love of all things Canada. There’s witty exchanges of dialogue, and there’s some biting commentary sprinkled in on feminism and race, and it’s just all lovely.
Urban fantasy is one of the most interesting genres, and this is exactly why. Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge was a ridiculously fun, crazy, original read and I am crossing my fingers for a sequel of some sort. I’ll be keeping an eye out for more Paul Krueger’s work.