An elixir of life and instigator of interesting decisions, alcohol helps to make the world more bearable. But in Paul Krueger’s Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge, alcohol serves a greater purpose to keep evil things at bay.
Bailey Chen is a recent business school graduate who has moved back home to Chicago in search of a job. While biding her time to her dream gig at a music app company, she’s working as a bar back with her high school friend Zane at the Nightshade Lounge. As Bailey strives to make the most of her situation and become a bartender, she doesn’t realize that bartenders are fighting soul-sucking demons in addition to mixing delicious drinks. As the attacks on the unaware citizens of Chicago increase, Bailey and her fellow bartenders attempt to figure out what’s causing the surge in attack and stumble into a larger plot to unravel.
The story was entertaining, even if a little outlandish and cliché at times. The world of bartenders and tremens was well developed and easy to envision; however, I found that the characters of the narrative weren’t as complex or developed as they could have been to make the story stronger – particularly the wildly oscillating perspective and portrayal of Zane. I thought the interspersing of cocktail recipes from The Devil’s Water Dictionary with the narrative was a clever way to combine real drinks with the lore presented in the text; additionally, as we slowly learned the cocktails with Bailey, it took the reader along for the ride as a psuedo bartender initiate.
Overall, I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars.