Quirk Books, out now
Tending bar can be hell.
Bailey Chen is an unemployed business school graduate living with her parents. To bring in a few dollars while she searches for the dream job, she takes a position as barback (keeping the bartenders supplied with what they need – ice, garnishes, etc.) at The Nightshade Lounge, an establishment run by her old high school friend Zane Whelan. Quickly growing dissatisfied with her job, Bailey wants to be a proper bartender, even more so after accidentally finding out that they are actually part of an ancient order that fight demons, or ‘tremens’, those who feed off the life-force of the vulnerable drunk. Now that she knows, Zane agrees to train her – and so the main body of the story begins. Finding herself drawn into this world, she quickly discovers she’s a natural bartender, with a talent for making effective magical cocktails – and that something is going on that could lead to destruction on a massive scale.
Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge reads like Buffy tends bar in one way, but to limit it to that description would be to do the novel a massive disservice. The story is fast-paced, extremely enjoyable – and I hope that there are further volumes to come. Bailey and her cohorts are very well drawn, and the way the author weaves cocktails (which each have differing magical properties) into the action is very clever indeed. The story builds to a very satisfying finale, which leaves the reader wondering what comes next for Bailey and her crew.
Very well done indeed.
Verdict: Bartenders vs demons. With magic. 9/10