Title: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge
Author: Paul Krueger
Publisher: Quirk Books
‘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?’
Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge introduces the secret world of magical mixology, where a screwdriver bestows super strength, a martini induces invisibility, and a perfectly conjured Long Island Ice Tea is rumoured to impart immortality on the drinker. Mix in some Romantic tension, stir with some killer monsters, and add a touch of quirky humour. Welcome to the Nightshade Lounge.
College grad Bailey Chen has all of the usual new-adult demons: no cash, no job offers, and a rocky relationship with Zane, the only friend still around when she moves back home. But her demons become a lot more literal when Zane introduces Bailey to his cadre of monster-fighting bartenders. It turns out supernatural creatures are stalking the streets of Chicago, and they can be hunted only with the help of magically mixed cocktails: vodka grants super-strength, whiskey offers the power of telekinesis, and tequila lets its drinker fire blasts of elemental energy. But will these supernatural powers be enough for Bailey and a ragtag band of mixologists to halt a mysterious rash of gruesome deaths? Includes 13 cocktail recipes from an ancient book of cocktail lore.
I need a drink. No, seriously. To take on this book, you need to drink. It is a very weak premise supporting a story which appears to wind itself in an unwieldy way so that cocktail recipes can be included. To suspend one’s disbelief that cocktails can give one magical powers in order to fight rather unspectacular and underwhelming creatures, one should certainly use the recipes which do make good cocktails. The feelings of over confidence, uninhibited abilities and forgetfulness that one can associate with over drinking are in fact, the result of a secret organisation of bar tenders out to protect us.
The characters are very under developed and unsympathetic, and the supervillain’s master plan is to brew enough cocktail to achieve his dark ends. It is strange that the first chapter contains the character that is actually the most appealing and ends up not being included in the rest of the book. He is the chap that I would have liked to follow through this narrative and may have made it more compelling.
Our lead protagonist in fact, is rather unremarkable, as is her love interest and this other thread running through the novel is not enough to make one want to keep the pages turning. Had the creatures been more sinister, the encounters of our hero group with them been more exciting or less repetitive, or the universe including the council, its laws and history been more explored and established, this could have been a great book. Instead everything feels rather slap dash and washed over to get to the next cocktail recipe, and this is where it falls down.
More time writing and less on cocktail recipes badly needed. I am off to the pub.
Reviewer: The Aviator