Book Review: Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree

Book Review: Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree

ARC was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Cover art illustrated by: Carson Lowmiller

Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Standalone

Genre: Fantasy, Slice-of-Life

Pages: 318 pages (Kindle Edition)

Published: 22nd February 2022 by Cryptid Press (Self-Published)

Legends and Lattes is the wholesome and cozy fantasy you didn’t know you need.

For those of you who don’t know, Travis Baldree has been well known for his role as the audiobook narrator behind Will Wight’s Cradle series. And many other series, really. Legends and Lattes is his debut novel, and I do think Baldree should now be known for his fantasy novel, too. I wouldn’t have known about Legends and Lattes if it weren’t for Twitter. Most of you probably know already, almost all of my favorite novels and stories are intense, emotional, dark, and serious in tone. But I do love slice-of-life as a genre as well. When I saw the cover art—illustrated by Carson Lowmiller—to Legends and Lattes on Twitter, with the premise indicating this is a high fantasy novel with low stakes, I knew I couldn’t go wrong with my expectations entering this book. I knew immediately I should read this when I’m in the mood for something short, cozy, and wholesome. Despite loving slice-of-life in other storytelling mediums such as manga, anime, and TV shows, I seem to struggle to find a terrific slice-of-life fantasy novel. But I got what I wanted here. Legends and Lattes is the slice-of-life fantasy novel I craved and received.

“I told you I came across it in Azimuth, and I remember following the smell to the shop. They called it a café. People just sat around drinking it from these little ceramic cups, and I had to try it, and… it was like drinking the feeling of being peaceful. Being peaceful in your mind. Well, not if you have too much, then it’s something else.”

The story in Legends and Lattes is centered on Viv. Worn out after decades of packing steel and raising hell, Viv, the orc barbarian, cashes out of the warrior’s life with one final score. A forgotten legend, a fabled artifact, and an unreasonable amount of hope lead her to the streets of Thune, where she plans to open the first coffee shop the city has ever seen. However, her dreams of a fresh start making coffees instead of swinging swords are hardly a sure bet. Old frenemies and Thune’s shady underbelly may just upset her plans. To finally build something that will last, Viv will need some new partners and a different kind of resolve. At a glance, it’s easy to advertise this as a fantasy novel about building a new coffee shop in a fantasy world, and yes, it indeed is. But beyond the surface, there were a lot of relatably resonating themes that made Legends and Lattes so precious. Through this premise and the narrative, Baldree highlighted the importance of friendship, found family, love, community, and how good food and beverages never fail. And at its core, I think Legends and Lattes is a story about starting something new. It’s never too late to start something new. Will it be easy? No, it will be difficult. But it’s not impossible. Growing out of your comfort zone is never easy, but good things just might come out of it. Booktube was something I was too afraid to try. For years I contemplated it, and I won’t lie, I still struggle with it at times. But after more than a year, I can say that this new venture has all been so worth it.

“I apologize. Look, I am very bad at this. I don’t really know what I’m doing… This is what I know, what I’ve always known. I just want to know something else, now. To be something else. Everything I said was stupid. I, of all people, ought to know better than to assume anything based on what you were born as. Before you walk out, do you mind if I start over?”

The novel doesn’t feature multiple POV characters. The entire story in Legends and Lattes is told exclusively through the perspective of Viv. There isn’t a lot of characters here, but Baldree focused on quality rather than quantity. Viv started the coffee shop business alone, and soon she will befriend new acquaintances and friends that became irreplaceable to her. It’s never too late to do something new, but starting a coffee shop business on your own without anyone’s help is a task that may be too difficult to execute. Cal, Tandri, and Thimble taught Viv and us readers that it is okay to believe in the kindness of strangers. As improbable as it sounds sometimes, especially to us who tasted adulthood already, not every stranger is out to get us. And Legends and Lattes remind us that there is goodness and kindness in this world. I loved reading the character development of Viv, Tandri, Cal, and Thimble. Thimble needs to be protected at all costs.

“Right… and one thing I remember particularly well from our little chat was how much she hated assholes. You know, some people might consider any of her crew to be assholes, just because of the nature of the business. But I don’t think that way… I’ve got respect for people who have to get their hands dirty to get things done. That’s just work. No, it takes something special to be a real asshole, and I think she and I are of the same mind.”

It’s not only the characters, too. Even seeing their friendship and hard work bringing results in the form of a new menu genuinely made me smile. Oh my god, the description of the drinks and the food in this book is irresistible. I actually can’t recommend this book to you if you’re on a diet. I want to taste the coffee, the latte, Thimblet’s cinnamon roll, Midnight Crescents, and more. If you’re in the mood for an epic fantasy novel with warfare, battle scenes, and an expansive world-building, then this may not be the novel for you right now. But even then, I still would recommend Legends and Lattes to every fantasy reader. I am, after all, a fan of epic fantasy and grimdark fantasy, too, and I still end up loving this thoroughly. Slice-of-life does not mean that the story lacks tension, the conflicts the characters encounter are just different than the ones we often read in epic fantasy. I mean, if you know life, you know just how stressful life can get sometimes. And the narrative never takes a pause. Baldree made sure the progressions in character development and business making always happen with each chapter. Additionally, the 31 chapters in this novel are filled with their own unique chapter icon. All of these, with the combination of Baldree’s accessible prose, transformed Legends and Lattes into a page-turning—and cozy—reading experience.

“I was just thinking that you don’t have to forget who you were… because that’s what brought you here.”

Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree is a serendipitous novel. I didn’t search for it, its existence came out of nowhere, and it instantly became one of my favorite books of the year. I have a strong instinct this book will be incredibly famous one day, sooner than later. I absolutely enjoyed it. A great book and delicious food are things in this world that never fail to make me feel happy and alive. I can’t live without them. If you feel the same way, how about trying this relaxing book? Legends and Lattes is truly a feel-good fantasy novel at its finest. I eagerly wait for the next book by Baldree. I want more out of this world, and I’ve asked the author about his plan. Fortunately, Baldree plans to make this a series of standalone novels/series similar to Discworld by Terry Pratchett. This is most likely the best direction for the series, and I couldn’t be more pleased. Pick up this book as soon as possible, and have a refreshing taste of Legends and Lattes.


You can order this book from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Blackwells (Free International shipping)

The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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