Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger

Publisher Description: College grad Bailey Chen has a few demons: no job and a rocky relationship with Zane, her only friend when she moves back home. But when Zane introduces Bailey to his fellow monster-fighting bartenders, her demons get a lot more literal.

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge is a silly and entertaining tale of cocktails that give one the power to fight demons.

The fighting demons with cocktails conceit wore a little thin, but the robust plot kept me going as a reader. There was one shockingly out of place incident that won't make dog lovers happy, but otherwise the violence is of the over-the-top demon fighting kind. Overall, I’d rate this book a little gimmicky but amusing and fun. It definitely does not take itself seriously. (The demons are called tremens - a group of them? A delirium.) It also has a diverse cast of characters, always welcome.

I loved the Chicago setting and details. The cover says the writer lives in L.A., but I have to believe from the accurate Chicago vocabulary that he was a Chicagoan at one time. Some lines made me laugh out loud (off to fight demons and the bad guy, the main character’s hair was “styled to weather both Chicago winds and possibly the end of the world.” p. 327 of the advance reader copy).

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge really feels like a “new adult” novel (although I do hate that label). (“She’d spent so much of the past two months running from her old self, but for the first time she felt maybe she didn’t have to. … What mattered was the future, and she still had plenty of that left.” (p. 276) This from a recent college graduate.)

Recommended for lovers of urban fantasy like Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files and for “new adult” Chicagoans who like quirky fantasy. In fact, if you are a Chicagoan or ex-Chicagoan of any age and the book’s description intrigues you, give it a shot. The opening of the author’s Acknowledgments give you an idea of what to expect: 
The hardest part about writing the acknowledgments for a book I wrote is finding a way to stretch the words “Great job, Paul!” See, that’s the thing about this book: I wrote it all by myself. If there’s anyone to acknowledge, it’s definitely just me and me alone. Well, me and Mira. I will definitely thank her. She’s my roommate’s cat, and she spent most of the draft process lying quietly in a nearby sunbeam. It was the single most inspiring thing I’ve ever seen. (p. 280 of the ARC)
 I read an advance reader copy of Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge. It will be published on June 7 and will be available at the Galesburg Public Library as a print book and an ebook.

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