Author: Paul Kreuger
Category: Fantasy, New Adult
Sid thinks: If you like lighthearted, quick reads with drinks and demons, then read it!
Der Mann picked this book up on a whim. I was looking for something to read, something a bit different, and as I read faster than he does, I sneaked Last Call out of his TBR pile.
Bailey Chen is our narrator. She’s a fresh Ivy-League graduate with no job prospects, that takes a job as a barback to tide her over while she looks for her career. Of course, she gets much, much more than she thought. While I found her annoyingly short-sighted and self-centered at first, I came to like her more in the end. And to be honest, who isn’t short-sighted and self-centered at 22? I know I was. She rang true, and she grew a bit over the course of the story, which is what we love in a main character.
Then there is Zane, the geeky best friend/high school crush-that-wasn’t, who knows more than he’s telling and has grown up more than Bailey thought. Zane isn’t as developed as he could be; he seems to be there more for Bailey to angst about and fawn over, but he is a demon-fighting bartender in his own right, where Bailey is not. He’s grown past her in this regard, and could have gotten a bit more credit (and page time) for it.
There’s a bit of political infighting, and a lovely character that trains Bailey in demon-fighting, and some interesting side characters, including a woman of color and a trans bartender, that I hope show up in later books or stories of their own. Honestly, some of these secondary characters were more interesting than Bailey and have far better backstories (and I want to see them!).
As for the demons themselves, or “tremens” as they’re called (and yes, a group of them is a “delirium”), their motivations aren’t quite clear. They’re not intelligent, and their reasons for hunting people aren’t really spelled out. Bartenders hunt them because that’s what bartenders do. Good enough, I suppose. There aren’t any deeper motivations, except for the draw of the magic of the fabled Long Island Iced Tea…honestly, it gets a bit garbled. Tremens are ugly, eat-you things and bartenders fight them. Yay bartenders!
It isn’t great literature, or even an enduring fantasy for the ages, but it’s well-done, light, and fun, plus it has some fantastic drink recipes (the Mixology inserts are some of the best parts of the book)! If Mr. Kreuger writes another novel set in this universe (maybe about baristas?), I’ll be picking it up.