Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger

Rating: WORTHY!

This is yet another advance review copy from Net Galley for which I was really grateful! It's a mixed bag and you can only chose by blurb what you think will be a worthy read. Sometimes it feels like Christmas and you wonder whether you will get coal in your stocking, or a real gem. This was without question a gem of the finest cut. My only real quesitont o begin with was: who is the real author? Goodreads has two versions, one which credits authorship to Grady Hendrix and lists Paul Krueger as a contributor and this is listed as a "chaplet" whatever the heck that is. The one I read which gives Paul Kreuger the whole credit. Are they one and the same person? Is one an excerpt from the other - because it bears no resemblance to the actual Last Call! Who knows!

The real Last Call took off right from the start, grabbed me and ran with me. I sped through the chapters. It had a really interesting premise: that bartenders are really protectors of humanity from the demon world, and it's not a metaphor! By mixing and consuming the perfect cocktail, they can give themselves a range of temporary powers to fight real demons which are appropriately known as tremens, and which manifest in a variety of forms. Different cocktails lend different powers and the book contains recipes for various cocktails between chapters.

Kudos for making the main character Chinese-American. Bailey Chen was such a break from the trope young adult world of dystopian trilogies or ridiculous love stories featuring Mary Sue Wasp. She was smart, determined, inventive, amusing, and fearless despite her fears. Even as she was introduced to the world of demon-hunting, for which she had a real talent, she was still trying to do the sensible thing and protect her future with a decent day job.

I was into this from the start, but the real question was: was our main character, Bailey Chen? She was bar-tending as a temp job until should could get something in the hi-tech world, and even when she discovered this weird world of alcohol magic and demon-hunting, she was still pursuing her dream avidly, even as the demon world began to go sideways in that it was no longer the predictable world it had been. But Bailey was up to it.

I adored Bailey, and liked all three of her companions in this fight, although one of them temporarily was a dick. I would have loved to learn more about Mona, but then I always seems to be more intrigued by the companion than by the star! However, it was a close run thing here - too close to call because Bailey was kick-ass also.

I loved this novel (in a sweet platonic manner...) and I recommend it highly.