College grad Bailey Chen has a few demons: no job, no parental support, and a rocky relationship with Zane, the only friend who’s around when she moves back home. But when Zane introduces Bailey to his cadre of monster-fighting bartenders, her demons get a lot more literal. Like, soul-sucking hell-beast literal. Soon, it’s up to Bailey and the ragtag band of magical mixologists to take on whatever—or whoever—is behind the mysterious rash of gruesome deaths in Chicago, and complete the lost recipes of an ancient tome of cocktail lore.
I read Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge because someone – I now, regretfully, forget who – recommended this to me. I had no idea what this book was about going in, but despite this, I had the best fun reading Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge. If you like the sound of an urban fantasy with monsters that roam the night, monster hunters that gain power from drinking magical cocktails, and have relatable ‘new adult’ themes, then read on further — because today, I’m going to give you five reasons of why you should pick up incredibly fun book.
Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger follows Bailey Chen, a recent graduate who doesn’t quite know what to do with her life. When she lands a bartending gig, the least she suspects is to be pulled into the dynamic and dangerous world of bartenders who belong to a secret society that hunt monsters.
1. About a girl just trying to find her place in the world
Though Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge isn’t a deep book (and I don’t think it has to be!), something I did really love was how relatable it was in the smallest ways. For instance, the main character, Baily Chen, is an Asian-American woman who just recently graduated from an Ivy League college – and doesn’t know what to do with herself or what she wants to do in life. She moves back in home with her parents (and I adored her parents; they were such good Asian parent representation!) to find a job, and when she lands her bartending gig, she doesn’t realise that where she belonged may have been with a centuries-old secret society of monster hunters. Who knew?
2. Blends magic with mixology
Never ever did I think I would read a book that was about magical cocktails. And yet, Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge will make you feel like you unknowingly needed it. The bartenders part of the secret order in this book are not only knowledgeable about mixology, but also know how to concoct an alcoholic drink that will imbue its drinker with power. For instance, vodka gives its user super-strength, whiskey imbues the drinker with telekinesis, and rum allows the drinker to cast fire magic. I also loved learning about the lore of the secret society through little anecdotal excerpts about the fantastical history about iconic drinks – they were my favourite part of the book, to be honest.
3. MONSTER HUNTERS!!
If you love monsters in stories and love monster hunters who kick their monster-y butt, then you might love Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge! I never knew that I craved monster hunters so much (I mean, I liked Trail of Lightning, so maybe I had a hint), but this book satisfied that craving. Tying into monster hunters, Bailey Chen’s character arc is tied to her growth as a monster hunter herself and how she becomes part of their order. It’s incredibly fun and the action and fight scenes in this book are so exciting.
4. Its silliness is its charm – and it is incredibly charming
If you are thinking about reading Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge, don’t expect a book that takes itself seriously — because this book absolutely does not, and that’s what makes it so incredibly charming. There’s a bit of dry humour, lines that are incredibly over-the-top, but I think it’s that melodrama that works. I mean, the premise is about a secret society of monster hunters who drink alcohol and become power. It’s silly! But that’s what makes it so fun and perfect escapist material.
5. Has some surprising twists that I really enjoyed
Something you should also know is that this book also had a few plot twists. Though the plot twist may fall flat for some readers, it worked perfectly for me. The story develops in ways that you may not expect, but the developments take it up a notch and makes it so entertaining and exciting to return to. This is the kind of book that says, hey, just sit back and enjoy the ride – and if you do, then I think you’ll have fun reading this book.
MY CONCLUSION: RECOMMENDED
I kinda wish there were more books like this (or, they do exist and I’ve just yet to find them) – books that are just pure fun, a little silly, and have those fun fantasy elements to keep things interesting. Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge may not be your next favourite book, but it’s a hell lot of a good time.
Is this book for you?
Premise in a sentence: A recent graduate picks up a job as a bartender – and is pulled into a world of monster hunters and magical mixology.
Perfect for: Readers who want something fun and entertaining; readers who enjoy urban fantasy; readers who like the idea of monster slayers/hunters.
Think twice if: You’re looking for a more serious read or don’t really jell with ‘fun-just-for-fun’ books.
Genre: new adult, urban fantasy
Trigger/content warning: death of an animal, multiple blood mentions, fantasy violence, alcohol consumption