Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge, by Paul Krueger
Description: (from Quirk Books)
In this sharp and funny urban fantasy novel, booze is magic, demons are real, and millennial Bailey Chen joins a band of monster-fighting Chicago bartenders instead of finding a “real” post-college job.
Bailey Chen is fresh out of college with all the usual new-adult demons: no cash, no job offers, and an awkward relationship with Zane, the old friend she kinda-sorta hooked up with during high school.
But when Zane introduces Bailey to his monster-fighting bartender friends, her demons become a lot more literal. It turns out that evil creatures stalk the city streets after hours, and they can be hunted only with the help of magically mixed cocktails: vodka grants super-strength, whiskey offers the power of telekinesis, and rum lets its drinker fire blasts of elemental energy. But will all these powers be enough for Bailey to halt a mysterious rash of gruesome deaths? And what will she do when the safety of a “real world” job beckons?
haaaaaAAAAAAAAA! This was exactly the kind of book I’m always yelling that I want more of!!
Why is this so good you ask?
- A new adult (22 yo) main character who struggles with the not-a-teen-anymore-but-not-a-grown-up-either issue #veryrelatable
- She’s also Chinese-American
- with cool parents
- She finished college and is struggling to find an adequate job
- And ends up working in a bar with her high-school bestfriend
- Awkward relationship between the two of them because of ~reasons~
- A very cool diverse ensemble cast of characters (by which I mean there are queer characters 🌈)
- Lots of good friendship and mentor/mentee relationships
- Confrontation of elitist views
- ALCOHOL IS MAGIC
- MONSTER-DEMON FIGHTING
- Secret-magic-bartender society
- Set in Chicago
- (cool Halloween read!)
- Tackles asian fetish and calls out asian whitewashing in movies on the side
- no sex (YES a NA novel without any sexy scenes, THANK YOU finally)
- Still involves a crush
- and some kissing
- There’s also a cool twist that I didn’t see coming
Only small not-so-awesome things that I didn’t mind that much but would rather you be prepared for just-in-case:
- lots of tropes (but used well in my opinion? *shrugs*)
- Involves a blind-man who’s a badass
- and a Canadian character who very often talks about being Canadian
- and a bad guy really talking like a bad guy and not that scary
- also the bookworm is badass and special (But I personally Did Not Mind because this was a fun book not looking to be deep or anything and it’s cool reading about a badass petite Chinese American woman!)
- not much world-building or backstory about how this society came to be or functions
Bailey decided to concentrate entirely on her pancakes. Sweet, reliable pancakes. Pancakes were delicious. Pancakes were dependable. She’d been eating pancakes her entire life and never got tired of them. They’d been there forever, like an old friend. Pancakes understood her.
I don’t drink alcohol simply because I don’t like how it tastes but it really didn’t stop me from enjoying this book A LOT. It was all very relatable and fun. Plus it’s a short book, and I don’t feel like it was missing anything either, obviously like every short book that I loved I wish it had been longer but it IS a good length for this story here.
There were some cool parts in-between chapters about how the drinks are made and some historical facts and what magical powers they give to people who drink them, I read most of them : they were very funny but when I was really into the story and wanted to know what would happen next I admit I might have skipped one or two… I’m pretty sure I will re-read this book one of these days and that will make a nice addition to the re-read I’m sure!
“So then Bailey is all ‘Monster, you interrupted a super interesting chat I was having with my good buddy Bucket about gender and personal identity, so I’m gonna fuck you up,’ ” he said, pitching up his voice into a passable imitation of her own.
I’m always whining about how there aren’t enough SFF books with new adults protagonists (like, adults that are young, in college or just out of it, in their twenties) and this one really delivered!
So, yeah, I loved this book and I’m very glad I could read about a character that is my own age this year, I’ll always remember it – if not for all the awesome parts – for this.
content warning: sudden death of an animal