Last Call At The Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger book review

Getting drunk is magical in Last Call At The Nightshade Lounge

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Finding a job after graduation can be tricky, which is how Bailey Chen ends up as a bar-back in one of Chicago’s many drinking holes and living with her parents.

When she accidentally mixes a cocktail that possesses magical properties, she finds that there’s more to making drinks than getting punters drunk: you’re supposed to protect them from monsters that prey on them.

Krueger’s debut has an instant charm to it, with an immensely likeable lead and a good blend of urban fantasy and millennial anguish. Bailey’s struggle to chase the adulthood she actually wants is relatable, so when she realises that there’s a world in which she can make a difference, we share her excitement.

The author confidently develops this kingdom of cocktail-making warlocks with a collection of well-rounded characters and drinks recipes that double as history lessons. Bailey’s fellow bartenders are great fun, and the ties between the city’s bar-owners give the novel some weight and threat.

As funny as the bickering between the heroes is and as engaging as Bailey’s sudden interest in the guy she turned down at college is, Last Call At The Nightshade Lounge really connects when it focuses on Bailey’s search for something she’s good at and to stake her claim to it.

It’s a fast and funny read, but you’ll genuinely care about the outcome. Also, you’ll really, really want a cocktail when you’re finished.