By Heather A.
4 out of 5 stars ★★★★☆
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.
A galley of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.
Bailey Chen is all of us: just graduated, drowning in student loans, looking for the right job, but still working where ever she can. It’s the millennial story that everyone has heard a million times. Bailey also has the added pressure from her parents (who she is currently living with), that is typical (from what I’ve heard) of Asian parenting–pressure to do well and move out.
When Bailey takes a job as a bar back for her family friend’s bar, she’s only in it for the money until something else lines up. What she doesn’t expect is that she’ll become a demon-fighting bartender in the process. The concept for the book is really fun. I think the author did a great job with the powers for each cocktail. Like an Old-Fashioned will give the drinker strength, a Mai Tai will give you fire power, and a White Russian will let you walk on air.
"I picked a martini [invisibility] because it's a good way to show you this is the real deal without risking my deposit." He went on. "But there's a lot you can do, depending on the liquor. A tequila slammer lets you make these awesome force fields. Drink a White Russian, and you can walk on air. And if you've ever wanted to know what it's like to breathe underwater, I make a sick Tom Collins." --Zane, token love interest.
(The above quote is from a galley, it may have changed in the final version)
My thoughts on Zane (quoted above) are a bit complicated because I understand that Bailey’s feelings for him change from disinterest to affection, I don’t necessarily understand how they end up together? He just seems to accept that Bailey likes him and moves on from Mona. Did he ever really like Mona? Were they both using each other?
I did have an issue that the same job that Bailey was applying for (app company) ended up being the same location as the “ultimate evil plan” –the coincidence (if that) seemed forced to me. Also, readers should have had more information about where the tremens come from. It’s not clear.
Overall, the pacing was fast and the action sequences were clear and well written. The characters were relatable and fun, even the supporting characters, like Bucket–he was fun. I would like to read more from this author in the future! Great debut!