Friday, August 19, 2016

Mixing Up Drinks & Danger

It seems appropriate that Quirk books publishes this novel with a plot like nothing else with which I am familiar with. Imagine: the real guardians of your neighborhood are the local bartenders who use their special talents of mixology to keep the supernatural beasts and demons at bay, thus protecting humanity and those particularly vulnerable folks who imbibe, make merry or drown their sorrows.

The idea was so novel, it drew me right in. Paul Krueger's book, Last Call At the Nightshade Lounge, has been deemed "a novel for new adults"--which is to say it is intended to bridge the gap between YA readers and "adult" readers. Think millennials I guess.

You can read the plot synopsis form the publisher below. As a work of paranormal fantasy, I enjoyed Kruger's lot as something new and fresh. The bar scene is not, and never really has been, a part of my life, so I had to rely on the pop culture images of neighborhood pubs and local watering holes one gathers from television and movies to imagine many of the settings in the book.

I tried to figure out how I would feel about the characters if I were the 20-something age of Bailey, Zane, and their fellow barkeeps. From the perspective of a 50 year old, they seem like the worst cliches attributed to their generation: at best, not ambitious, at worst, lazy; unsure of what to do with their education yet having some sense of entitlement; unable to leave behind their college or even high school days and meet the adult expectations of society (so looking a bit spoiled).

I really enjoyed the bartender notes and drink recipes interspersed throughout. It was fun information and added to the sense that different liquors provide different magical properties. The inclusion of this material added depth to the plot that this magical know-how could perhaps be the ancient knowledge of a secret fellowship passed down through the centuries.

My thanks to the publisher for the ARC I received in exchange for this honest review.

From the Publisher . . .

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?

This sharp and funny urban fantasy is perfect for fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, and grown-up readers of Harry Potter. Includes 14 recipes from a book of ancient cocktail lore.

About the Author . . .

Paul Krueger is, down to the very bottom of his black little heart, a city rat. Raised in and around Chicago, he got his learning on in New York before scuttling off to Los Angeles, where he lives now.

His short fiction has appeared in the anthologies SWORD & LASER and NOIR RIOT. His debut novel, LAST CALL AT THE NIGHTSHADE LOUNGE, is due out in June of 2016 from Quirk Books. It’s about a secret society of bartenders who fight demons with alcohol-magic, and yes, it’s very much autobiographical.*

His non-writing hobbies include cooking, playing ukulele, Pathfinder, and boring strangers with long, involved stories about his cat. He’s also a musician, singing lead for the Adventure Time-themed punk band Lemonbadd.

If found, Paul should be returned to Ms. Jennie Goloboy of Red Sofa Literary, who is very patient with him.

*for a very loose/nonexistent value of “autobiographical”

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