Hello lovely internet people!
I’ve been a bit down lately for all the obvious international news reasons, but this latest book dragged me out of my doldrums and I had to give it a review!
Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree is a brilliant fantasy novel set in a coffee shop run by an ex-adventurer, the Orc, Viv. And it’s not out of place that she is an Orc. The fact that it is set in a Dungeons and Dragons-like world is pretty clear from the get go. Viv fights a giant monster in the midst of a golden hoard, there are magical races and just magic in general everywhere you look. But it is different from most D&D adjacent stories in that the plot doesn’t revolve around some end of the world cataclysm or political intrigue and assassin heavy royal court. Instead, it is all about the everyday adventures of stepping away from your old job, moving to a new city, and starting a cafe. I mean there is also some mafia stuff and a house fire, but there’s no massive dragons or armies needing to be stopped. The battles are smaller, which in this case means closer, not less important.
The book is also charming, it feels comforting. Kind of like the feeling of drinking coffee in a pretty little cafe. I’m guessing that similarity isn’t an accident, so well done to Travis Baldree there. The setting atmosphere/writing tone match up is so lovely to experience, that even if the rest of the book was terrible I would probably still recommend it to people for that. But it’s not terrible, it’s actually pretty darn terrific.
The main character, Viv, is inspiring not just because she is a big tough adventurer, but because she has the strength to look at the life she is living and decide that it’s not making her happy. And then she goes and does what so many people feel is next to impossible, she goes and changes her life so that it does make her happy. That is an incredibly powerful message and one that really made me think about what ways I too can work to make myself happier.
There is also an adorable romance in the story, though I won’t give too many spoilers away for that since I think it would probably be better for readers to see it happen themselves. In fact, adorable is a word that could get really overused in describing this book. There are so many characters that are just tailor made to grab onto your heart. Actually that is one of the things that works really well in the book, the characters are all really distinct and feel fleshed out. You can easily imagine them going off and having a life out beyond the edges of the story, not stopping just outside the wings and waiting for their cue to come back on stage.
Not everyone is likeable, some are horrible, but of the ones that you are supposed to enjoy spending time with I have to admit that Thimble, the baker and rattkin, is my absolute favourite and is just the cutest baked good genius ever!
In short I really recommend this book to anyone who has had a bad day and needs something to cheer them up. Or even if you’ve been having a great day and want something to add the perfect end to that day. It’s lovely and sweet, with enough threat to keep the plot going, but not so much that you are ever truly worried that the characters will come to harm.
Apparently the rights to it have been bought up by Tor and they are looking to republish it, it would be underselling the triumph this is to say it doesn’t happen often. It really shows how exceptional this book is and how much it has clearly fed a deep need felt by readers.
But yeah, go buy it. I think it is absolutely delightful and I will most likely be buying copies for a lot of my loved ones in the nearish future.
Here is a link to the UK Amazon page if you fancy buying it yourself, I hope my effusive words will have helped make up your mind!
Stay safe out there,
A book with my own low stakes romance is currently out too! The anthology is Dragons and Heroines by Dragon Soul Press and my short story is called Miss Haversmith Appreciates. If you happen to mosey over to Amazon to buy Legends and Lattes could I ask that you also pick up a copy of my story too? Here is a link to Amazon UK where you can pick it up as an ebook or paperback.