Author: Paul KruegerEdition: eGalley courtesy of NetgalleyRelease Date: June 7th, 2016Rating: 4 Stars
I received a copy of Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge from Quirk Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
Nightshade is an urban fantasy that takes place in Chicago and follows Bailey Chen, a barback with dreams of rising high (though, not in a bar). When she is attacked by a demon-like creature she learns that bartenders, through the power of alcohol and mixing, are the defense between the general population and these monsters. Soon she is in training to become one of them. Of course, things are never easy, and the tremens (the demons) are starting to team up- something that everyone seems to deny is a possibility- and Bailey and her friends are the only ones who might be able to stop them.
I liked this novel, I really did, but it didn't blow me away. It was a pretty standard urban fantasy, and because it was a novel and not part of a series, it moved pretty quickly and I didn't get as much time to really dig my feet into this one. It wasn't a loss to the story, which benefited from the quick storytelling, honestly, but I wouldn't have minded if I had found out it was only book one of many.
My favorite part, besides it being set in Chicago (which is only an hour away from where I live, so, more or less, my home turf) was the magic system! I don't drink (ahem, I am underage... but beyond that I actually have no interest in alcohol whatsoever) so the finer details were probably lost on me (like, I couldn't really picture anything, but that's okay) but overall it made a bunch of sense. And between chapters there were notes on what makes the recipe magic, what they do, and what the history of the drink is. I found that really interesting and thought it was a brilliant touch.
For the characters, I really liked them. It's a pretty diverse, featuring a Chinese-American main character, an African-American side character (who is the ultimate bad-ass and I want a novel about her now), a trans side character (who is pretty awesome, as well, and I wish he had more page-time), and several gay and lesbian side characters. The best part of the diversity? It's not the main draw about the characters, it's just a fact about them and while it's part of their identities it's not the only part of their character and they're made interesting by all the facets of their characterization. I thought it was handled very well, and would strongly recommend this if you're looking for something with a diverse cast.
Besides not having a completely original feel to it, I enjoyed this book and look forward to seeing what this author puts out next.