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Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree ☕️ (book review)

GENRE: Adult Fantasy
LENGTH: 254 pages

A battle weary orc, Viv, hangs up her sword and settles in the town of Thune. There she opens a coffee shop, but how do you sell a drink to a populace who has never even heard of it?

CHARACTERS A lot of the characters in this novel are more recurrent than main ones. Throughout the novel Viv is meeting new inhabitants of Thune that play various roles within her coffee shop. While each one has merits within the story, really only Viv and Tandi (her shop assistant) are there for a majority of the novel (followed by Cal next). Even in spite of some characters’ limit page time they’re all quite endearing and I found myself missing them when they weren’t on the page. In my opinion, this speaks quite highly of Baldree’s writing in terms of character development.
I had no idea there would be a romance in this book. So, I personally viewed Viv and Tandi to have more of a platonic, sisterly relationship. I was taken off guard when the attraction between them started to develop. I’m always here for more LGBT+ representation in fantasy books, but I think the establishment of their romance was the one weak point of this book.

This is a cozy fantasy that sells itself on being low stakes. If you like the found family themes in TJ Klune’s books then this is similar in that regard. It’s quite a short book. The main story itself is only 254 pages long. However, there is a 33 page short story at the back of the book (at least in the edition I have) that tells the story of what inspired Viv’s coffee shop aspirations. The short story isn’t a must read if your copy doesn’t have it; it’s just a fun little bonus if it does.
There are numerous species of fantasy creatures within the novel but for the most part we only really learn some basic facts about them. Cozy fantasy in general doesn’t focus as much on the world building. It often reminds me more of magical realism in this way than your typical fantasy novel. The most intriguing species for me personally were the gnomes because we learn they are the inventors and innovators in this world. If Baldree writes another story set in this world I hope it features a gnome main character.

Since the entire premise of this novel is the opening of a coffee shop this is the perfect book to take with you to a real world coffee shop. Or you could always just curl up on the couch with your favorite hot drink – that’s hot chocolate for me. Even though it’s low stakes there is still conflict to be overcome in the story. The found family is the best part for me. It’s so beautiful to get to join Viv on her journey to find stability and community.

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