Just a middle-brow reader who loves a good story, recipe or how-to.
I had no interest in reading this book (horror just isn't my thing) until one of Quirk's publicists put an image of a page of "The Devil's Water Dictionary" up on Snapchat, and suddenly I couldn't resist. Pages of an old mixology book being integrated into (see how I avoided saying "mixed in" there?) the story instantly peaked my curiosity. Mixology magic? Suddenly, this became a type of magic/magic-wielder that I wanted to read about.
One of the things this book has going for it (granted, for me this is in hindsight) is a great premise. I didn't really expect to like it, though it being from Quirk gave me hope (I had felt the same way about Grady Hendrix's Horrorstor, after all). It took me a bit to get past the idea of there being "demons," and a little time to warm up to the story, but once I did it was pure enjoyment as critical reading and prior reservations flew out the window. The prologue gave me a taste of how the author was handling the paranormal aspects, so once the main storyline began and Bailey was introduced, I was just along for the ride.
One of the things I like about this book is having the main protagonist be a young woman of Asian descent. I like the lack of disrespect towards her parents. I like the relationships between her and other characters and how they are portrayed, whether positive, negative, or somewhere in between. I like the mixology magic and how it is slowly explained, though not to an exhaustive extent. I like the overall lack of info-dumping that sometimes happens in fantasy - though I suppose this being basically our world with the addition of the mixology magic and the Tremens (weird beasts that feed off inebriated humans) makes that sort of thing less likely and extensive "world-building" much less vital.
The Tremens are described, but not with much detail, and I am fine with that. Have I mentioned the "not a fan of horror" thing? What I didn't like in particular, and never do, was the excessive amount of foul language. This is definitely not a good choice if you object to swearing in books.
One of the things Paul Krueger does particularly well in this novel is the final confrontation. The climactic battle scene is what left me wanting to see this made into a movie (even though most movies don't live up to their book). I also really enjoyed, for the very first time, the author's acknowledgements. Never before have I wanted to read every word of an acknowledgement page. Actually, it was two pages, and it was just fun - and so was the overall experience of this book.
So, overall, a bit lacking in details (but that is a positive here, for me) but a pleasant (that's my lame attempt not to say 'fun' again so quickly) reading experience if you just go with it. It is a quick, light (for horror/paranormal) read that introduces what might just be my favorite magic system ever.
This review refers to an advance readers copy I received, for free, from the publisher through Snapchat. There was no expectation of anything other that that I would read it, as far as I am aware. Nevertheless, the above is my honest (but sleep-deprived) and hopefully spoiler-free review (should I not have described the Tremens at all?). This review has been slightly edited - the original version is posted on my blog at http://wp.me/p5Tcfi-128