Book Review: Bookshops & Bonedust (Legends and Lattes, #0) by Travis Baldree

Book Review: Bookshops & Bonedust (Legends and Lattes, #0) by Travis Baldree

ARC provided by the publishers—Tor Books & Tor UK—in exchange for an honest review.

Cover art illustrated by: Leo Nickolls

Bookshops & Bonedust by Travis Baldree

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Legends and Lattes (Book #0 of 4)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Cozy Fantasy

Pages: 368 pages (Kindle edition)

Publish date: 7th of November 2023 by Tor Books (US) & Tor (UK)

Legends and Lattes and Bookshops and Bonedust, Travis Baldree truly knows the secret recipes for crafting wholesome cozy fantasy novels.

“Never trust a writer who doesn’t have too many books to read. Or a reader, for that matter.”

When Legends and Lattes appeared and took over the fantasy landscape early last year, it popularized the cozy fantasy subgenre. Before the surge of romantasy, plenty of fantasy authors rushed to write and publish their respective cozy fantasy novels as soon as possible. The purpose might be to write a wholesome story that resonates with readers. Or maybe they hoped to gain the fame and success Baldree attained from his debut novel. Traditional publishing tends to follow trends, and cozy fantasy was (and is) one of the trends in the market. Whatever the reasons, since the release of Legends and Lattes, I still haven’t found many cozy fantasy books or series that attract my interest as much as Legends and Lattes did. Sure, most of the books I read are serious, grim, or dark in their tone. But occasionally, I would like to have the option to take a break by reading a wonderfully cozy or slice-of-life story when I am in the proper reading mood. This is where Bookshops and Bonedust came in. Written after Legends and Lattes but chronologically taking place two decades before it, this is a prequel novel I didn’t know would be written but grateful to have. The author did not plan to write this prequel, too! And similar to Legends and Lattes, Viv’s younger days manage to charm me again.

“So here we are, with a prequel I never intended to write. And I’m happy with it. It says things I want to say, and if I’m lucky, it interlocks with Legends & Lattes in a way that makes both stories better, while still allowing them to stand on their own. I hope it gave you a nice afternoon or three, and that it left you warmer than when you started.”—Travis Baldree

Viv’s career with the notorious mercenary company Rackam’s Ravens isn’t going as planned. Wounded during the hunt for a powerful necromancer, she’s packed off against her will to recuperate in the sleepy beach town of Murk—so far from the action that she worries she’ll never be able to return to it.

What’s a thwarted soldier of fortune to do?

Spending her hours at a beleaguered bookshop in the company of its foul-mouthed proprietor is the last thing Viv would have predicted, but it may be both exactly what she needs and the seed of changes she couldn’t possibly imagine.

Picture: Bookshops and Bonedust by Carson Daniel Lowmiller

This is the premise of Bookshops and Bonedust. And I guarantee you whether you have read Legends and Lattes or not will influence your experience of Bookshops and Bonedust, even though this is designed to be a standalone novel in the series as well. Except maybe for the epilogue that would make more sense and impact if you have read Legends and Lattes. But if you have read Legends and Lattes first, there is the possibility the stakes of the plotline will feel even lower than it should be. That is the nature of this book as a prequel. You will know Viv’s fate in Legends and Lattes already, and the dangers she faces in this novel will feel more minimal. Every reader will have a different reaction, but personally, this is a cozy fantasy. Stakes and dangers were never in my mind when I started reading Bookshops and Bonedust. If Legends and Lattes is a story about starting something new, no matter how late it is in your life, then well, Bookshops and Bonedust is about planting the seeds of hope that the change in life is possible.

“We were just discussing a book for someone in particular. A gift. That’s the bookseller’s art, choosing just the right one for the person in question.”

Through meeting the right people at the right time, or maybe the right people at the wrong time, Viv will eventually realize there is more to life than just fighting and killing. And it is through the delight and escapism bestowed by reading great books that she feels this further. Yes, as the title says, many scenes in Bookshops and Bonedust will take place in a second-hand bookshop. And I loved the relationship Viv built with Fern, Potroast, Maylee, and Gallina. Gallina is a supporting character in Legends and Lattes, and I have no doubt we will see Fern, Potroast, and Maylee again in one or two future-to-be-written books in this world. Some readers can argue that writing a fantasy story about finding and savoring the joy of reading is cheating. It goes without saying that readers reading this book and Legends and Lattes will most likely be readers who love reading books. However, reading our unspoken emotions and words written by other authors eloquently, or feelings spoken by characters who feel the same passion about reading, can feel good. I actually think Bookshops and Bonedust had too many battles for a cozy fantasy novel. I wish we had more slice-of-life portions here like Legends and Lattes did. Reading Viv finding pleasure in reading for the first time put a smile on my face, and I wouldn’t mind having more of her reading and eating delicious foods.

“Every book is a little mirror, and sometimes you look into it and see someone else looking back.”

It may not be the type of book I read frequently, but Bookshops and Bonedust operates like a charming and comfortable inn, and the employees are full of heart and personality. Pretty much just like Legends and Lattes. Viv took a break from her injury in Murk, and I took a brief break from my intense reading adventures inside Bookshops and Bonedust. Enlightened by Viv’s newfound happiness for reading, I feel recharged to read the next dark fantasy and sci-fi novels I love to read. Baldree has mentioned three more standalone fantasy novels in this series will be written and published, and the first one is slated to be released in 2025. I have no idea how many cozy fantasy novels, in total, there would be in this world, but I will read them all. And if you are reading this review up to here, I recommend you to read this book and Legends and Lattes when you feel like you want to relax and take a break from everything. It always gives me satisfaction when I hear from readers they took my reviews and recommendations into account when they chose which books to read. Even more when they love the book I recommend, and I hope the same notion can be implemented into Bookshops and Bonedust.

“Having you here is connecting me to why I do this. To why I used to love it. I don’t know if I can explain it, but watching you read what I give you, putting a book in your hands and seeing what happens to you once you put it back down . . . I can’t make you understand how that gives me something I didn’t know I had to have.”

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

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

I also have a Booktube channel

Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing!

My Patrons: Alfred, Aliysa, Andrew, Andrew W, Annabeth, Arliss, Barbara, Biskit, Brad, Cade, Chris, Cullen, Dan, David, Dernerror, Donna, Donuts, Dylan, Edward, Elaine, Elias, Ellen, Frank, Garrick, Gary, Gregory, Hamad, Helen, Jenn, Jesse, Jimmy Nutts, Joie, Kristina, Lara, Lourdes, Luis, Melinda, Michael, Michael, Mike, Miracle, Mordie, Nicholas, Norbert, Radiah, RCT, Samuel, Sarah, Sarah, Scott, Shawn, Tori, Tracy, Trish, TS, Wendy, Wick, Xero, Yuri, Zoe.

View all my reviews

One thought on “Book Review: Bookshops & Bonedust (Legends and Lattes, #0) by Travis Baldree

  1. Just finished reading this and couldn’t agree more with your review! One minor exception: I had no quibbles at all with this book! None! Adored it start to finish, just as I did with Legends & Lattes! I especially appreciated Baldree’s explanation of how he came to write this particular book as his sophomore novel! I truly hope he has another installment out in 2024. I guess I CAN wait until 2025, but I certainly would not choose to do so! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *