A Shot of Gin
by Phoebe Wagner
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Pub Date 03 Oct 2023 | Archive Date 30 Sep 2023
BooksGoSocial, The Parliament House
Juniper “Gin” Cain is pretty sure she’s mostly human.
Working security for the vampire-owned All Saints Casino, Gin’s got an edge on the other employees: vampires can’t drink her blood, making her perfect for the job. But when a radiated zombie staggers into the casino's club, she’s forced to expose the inhuman traits she’s kept hidden.
Now, the powerful Vegas vampires want a piece of her. Her fanged boss Colton—a cowboy turned during the Nevada silver rush—helps her escape into the high desert, but the Vegas vampires and radiated zombies pursue relentlessly, eventually closing in.
Cornered and at risk of kidnapping, she accidentally triggers a nuclear explosion in a frantic bid for survival. Reckoning with the fallout, Gin realizes that if she wants to save the casino and the people she calls family, she must give up the idea of being human and uncover the origins of her mysterious blood traits—all while trying to keep her home at the Saints Casino, and the rest of Reno, from getting nuked.
Average rating from 12 members
Juniper ‘Gin’ Cain works security in a Las Vegas casino called All Saints. It is run by vampires, which is convenient because Gin’s blood is intolerable to vamps. Gin is pretty sure she is human, but avoids looking into her background too much. She is happy to just do her job, and have a roof over her head, and some people she can consider family, since her own family are nothing to write home about. Her plan to keep her head down goes out the window, when a radiated zombie lurches into the casino’s nightclub, attacking customers, and forcing her to expose the less than human traits she has been trying to keep hidden.
This leads to the powerful Vegas vampires all wanting a piece of her. Her vampire boss Colton, a cowboy turned vampire in the Nevada gold rush, helps her escape into the desert. Gin is fleeing, but the vampires, and radiated zombies are still closing in fast. Her ‘spidey senses’ tell her something bad is coming from the south so she heads that way to confront it. However, as her would-be captors gain on her, feeling cornered, and at imminent risk of capture, she accidentally releases a mini nuclear explosion. Following the explosion she realises that if she wants to save the casino and her friends, and rag-tag adopted family, she has to figure out what she is, and how to control her bizarre powers. What she discovers, blows her mind!
I spent much of this storying feeling that I was reading part two of a series. So much so that at one point I stopped, and did a search to find book one, to see if I could go back and read it first for what I was missing. However, there is no previous book. There is a lot alluded to a previous mentor/relationship with someone who helped her discover her powers. So I presume by this, and the ending, that there will be a book two. I hope. Because, other than this, I really enjoyed this story. Vampires in Vegas? Hello, sunshine!? The entire otherworld realm lives alongside the human one, with Vegas being entirely plausible as a place where humans could see some really weird stuff and just shrug it off.
I enjoyed Gin’s journey of discovery, her spunky attitude, and really, her growing up as the story progressed. There is a whole host of characters in the story, and we get some teasing glimpses of them and their world. If future books come out, it would be great to see more of them and their insight into this supernatural world living alongside the human one in Vegas. Overall, I really enjoyed this read, It was fun, entertaining, light, kitschy, and something a little different in the genre. I should point out it was also gorey, full of fights, monsters, zombie deaths and more. But overall, a really entertaining read!
*I received this book for review from NetGalley but all opinions are my own.
Juniper “Gin” Cain works security in a vampire-run casino in Reno, Nevada. While not a vampire herself, she’s not technically humain either, though she does not have a clue what she actually is. She doesn’t have to sleep a lot, she heals really fast, and her blood makes vampires sick - which comes in pretty handy when dealing with the casino patrons.
One night, one of Gin’s colleagues is attacked by something that is not quite a werewolf and not quite a zombie. Which is weird, because zombies are supposed to be extinct. Also, Gin’s blood turns into acid when in contact with the creature, what’s that about ?
Gin and a whole array of magical creatures work almost-together to discover what is happening, which might lead Juniper to finally figure out where her supernatural abilities come from.
I had a great time reading ‘A Shot of Gin’ (and love the title even more after finishing the novel). While it is true that we as a reader are thrown in the midst of inter-magical-species’ politics among a cast of characters we know nothing about, I really didn’t mind being a little lost in the beginning. We are presented with a world that basically has all the States’ casinos being run by different families in a vampire mafia, which I am here for. Add faes and witch covens in the mix and there’s ground for some pretty interesting power dynamics to play out.
I really appreciated Gin as a main character, because she really is as lost in this world as we are. She was thrown into the magical world two years prior to the book’s events on a very traumatising drunken night, and she still has to find her footing in it. Even though she is a badass monster fighter, she is more than anything else a lost 20-something who has to navigate two very confusing worlds and, most of all, interpersonnal relationships. Because yeah, she does have to defend humans-from-vampires and vampires-from-other-stuff, but she also has to talk to that witch she befriended in college and forgot to text back and now it’s awkward. It made that not-quite-human character seem actually very human.
On a similar note, I really appreciated that Gin was very openly riddled with anxiety and dealing with past trauma. That made for very real and interesting reactions and relationships with the people around her. She also learns to deal with pretty heavy manipulation, and it was very satisfying to see her evolve and gain confidence around some of the other characters.
The only thing I regret maybe is that, because there is a LOT happening in less than 300 pages, and because the cast of characters is pretty extensive, there are a few characters that seem super important but we don’t get to learn a whole lot about. The fact that the author manages to convey two years of relationships and feelings into one or two descriptive sentences is super impressive, don't get me wrong. But I still wish we had a bit more time with some of the characters, like the rag-tag team of four unlikely allies that comes together at the two thirds mark of the book. I would have loved to see more of that. As soon as they united and started their journey together, I was ride or die for them, so that part ended a little too quickly for me. Because, while we don’t know their whole life stories, the characters are very well written. I would absolutely read sequels about Clarisse, or Winston and Leia. Mostly Clarisse, because I’m a sucker for a morally ambiguous character, bonus points if they’re a queer creature of the night.
I think everyone can find something to enjoy in 'A Shot of Gin'. It’s fun, there’s lots of action, there’s some spying, vampires, not-quite-zombies, witches, found families, a really prevalent reflexion about finding where you belong as a lost young adult. I got some very strong “Buffy” and “Lost Girl” vibes - that kind of fun and easy urban fantasy, very sassy, but where the stakes are still pretty high. I really had a great time reading it and definitely recommand it.
And I’ll end this review on a quote I noted because I think it’s very telling of the tone of the novel : “I’m not much of a monster slayer, more like a deterrent”.
I just finished this book, and I’ve been thinking about my feelings about it. I did enjoy the book overall, and I’m definitely looking forward to the next. Gin is a very scarred and traumatized character, and she’s very relatable. I did enjoy the side characters, but sometimes they went through too much change from friend/foe/friend, and I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to feel about them, not all of them, but a couple/few. And sometimes it felt like some of the information should have been told to us upfront instead of towards the end of the book which enforced the feeling of this wasn’t the first book. Again, even though it sounds like a lot, I did really like this one. The premise is an interesting and unique one, the writing is great, and there is so much potential for more. 3 ½ stars rounded to four. Recommend. I was provided a complimentary copy which I voluntarily reviewed.
This was so much fun! Loved the MC, and the fact she was thrown into this world just like the reader is! Gave me Lost Girl vibes with the world building & wit! Can’t wait to read more in the world of Gin!
Phoebe Wagner's "A Shot of Gin" is a genre-defying thrill ride that seamlessly blends elements of urban fantasy, post-apocalyptic drama, and high-stakes adventure. Set in the vibrant yet dangerous backdrop of Las Vegas, this novel introduces readers to Juniper "Gin" Cain, a complex and intriguing protagonist who grapples with her identity and extraordinary abilities.
The story's premise is refreshingly original, with Gin's unique ability to repel vampires adding a fascinating twist to the urban fantasy genre. Wagner's world-building skills shine as she immerses readers in a Las Vegas where vampires and radiated zombies coexist, creating an atmosphere that is both eerie and enthralling.
As Gin is forced to reveal her inhuman traits, the narrative takes off on a breakneck pace. The tension escalates as powerful vampires and relentless zombies close in on her, leading to a heart-pounding sequence of events that culminate in a shocking nuclear explosion. This explosive moment not only sets the stage for the novel's central conflict but also highlights Gin's resilience and resourcefulness in the face of danger.
What truly sets "A Shot of Gin" apart is its character development. Gin is a deeply relatable and flawed heroine, and her journey of self-discovery is both poignant and gripping. Her relationships, particularly with her boss Colton, add depth to the narrative and provide emotional anchors for readers to latch onto.
Wagner skillfully balances the high-stakes action with moments of introspection and emotional depth. The exploration of Gin's identity and the origins of her blood traits adds layers of complexity to the story, making it not only an adrenaline-pumping adventure but also a thought-provoking exploration of what it means to be human.
The setting, too, is a character in its own right. Las Vegas, with its neon-lit streets and supernatural underbelly, comes alive on the page, creating a vivid backdrop for the story's unfolding drama.
While "A Shot of Gin" is undeniably a genre-bending novel, it never loses sight of its core themes of identity, survival, and the lengths one will go to protect what they love. It's a book that keeps you on the edge of your seat, but also makes you pause to contemplate the deeper questions it raises.
In conclusion, "A Shot of Gin" is a remarkable and unforgettable read that defies easy categorization. Phoebe Wagner's storytelling prowess, combined with a unique premise and well-crafted characters, makes this book a must-read for fans of urban fantasy, post-apocalyptic fiction, and anyone who craves a thrilling, thought-provoking adventure. "A Shot of Gin" is a shot of literary adrenaline that lingers long after the final page is turned.
An extraordinay quest for identity. Gin will journey through numerous misadventures before embracing her true nature in a world where magical creatures conceal themselves behind masks. Amidst vampires, witches, and fey, Gin will risk her life to save her friends and find her place.
A very original ans smart take on vampire story.
A human/vampire hybrid working in a casino trying to figure out why so many in the non-human community are interested in her. It's an intriguing scenario that goes to some non-obvious places. The characters have some depth, the plot is interesting and there's a lot of action.
This was a fun read! Urban fantasy is my favorite type of fantasy and I loved the Reno setting. We’ve got vampires, witches, fey, werewolves and more! Gin grows so much through the book but is still very much a 22yr old who just wants control of her own life. I love her ragtag bunch of friends too.
I really enjoyed the twist on who and what Gin is! I hope there’s another book to follow bc while it absolutely can read as a standalone it sets itself up for future books in the world!
A Shot of Gin by Phoebe Wagner
Well-written, fast-paced, intriguing paranormal urban fantasy that had me wondering what would happen next.
What I liked:
* Juniper “Gin”: twenty-two, works in a casino run by a vampire, half-human and half-other, magical, strong, has powers that keep her somewhat safe from most paranormals, seems to have a chip on her shoulder, has potential if there is a series
* Franklin: human, Colton’s right-hand-man, wise, knowledgeable, keeps the casino running smoothly
* Colton: vampire, black cowboy two hundred years, ago, manages the casino, has an unusual relationship with Gin
* The supporting characters: Winston, Leia, Kia, Bobbi, Nash – all played a part that was important
* That the vampires were the way I would imagine them to be…rather untrustworthy, bloodthirsty, and difficult – wondering about Clarisse
* That there was one main bad guy that was at least temporarily dealt with but there definitely feels like there is more to the story
* Being on the fence regarding how to feel about some of the characters but then…they are vampires so can one ever trust and have them as friends?
* The plot, pacing, setting and writing
* Learning that I don’t really like zombies in a story
What I didn’t like:
* Who and what I was meant not to like
* The manipulation of and lies of omission that Gin became aware of
* Maybe wanting more backstory and a bigger indication of what might come next
Did I enjoy this book? Yes
Would I read more in this series? I think so, maybe?
Thank you to NetGalley and BooksGoSocial for the ARC – This is my honest review.