When an injury throws a young, battle-hungry orc off her chosen path, she may find that what we need isn’t always what we seek.
In Bookshops & Bonedust, a prequel to Legends & Lattes, New York Times bestselling author Travis Baldree takes us on a journey of high fantasy, first loves, and second-hand books.
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.
Still, adventure isn’t all that far away. A suspicious traveler in gray, a gnome with a chip on her shoulder, a summer fling, and an improbable number of skeletons prove Murk to be more eventful than Viv could have ever expected.
“Every book is a little mirror, and sometimes you look into it and see someone else looking back.”
Thank you to @netgalley and @Macmillan.Audio for the audiobook arc. The narration by Travis Baldree, no surprises there, is excellent. Since they’re his own characters, Travis captures the voice of each one especially well, making all of them sound unique and convincing. If I could, I would enlist Travis Baldree to read out to me all the books I want to read now.
Well we have to start with that ending. Of all the books to make me cry this year, I’d have never guessed this would be one. For about 90% of the book it was similar to L&L – a nice, cozy slice of life story with some action here and there but after that, it was a super emotional gut punch and I need Travis to write Book 3 right now. I don’t know how to talk about the ending without spoilers, so I’ll just say that I was once again sneakily listening to it in the office and when I got to the end, I was literally wiping off tears praying none of my colleagues would walk up to my cubicle at that exact moment. Also while this book can technically be read first, for maximum enjoyment (subjective) I would say it has to be read after Legends & Lattes.
As with Legends & Lattes, this book makes one feel cozy, warm, and more importantly hungry. I was barely one chapter into the book and was immediately craving potatoes, bacon, and eggs; by chapter 5 I
wanted needed biscuits, by chapter 8, I …
I forgot to talk about the author’s prose in L&L but in B&B, it is simply immaculate. He’s able to create the world and immerse the reader into the immediate atmosphere of a scene seemingly effortlessly. The side characters are more fleshed out, more memorable and one or two of them have their individual growth arcs. Before I had read the book, based on the cover and the blurb I guessed that my most favorite character would be Fern (the rattkin) the bookshop owner who swears or Potroast (the gryphet) but it actually turned out to be a character that is introduced almost halfway into the book. I definitely need that character to return in future books.
“Because right things happen at the wrong time”
One thing to note is how well the author layers a theme while still maintaining a gentle and light tone to the story. In L&L, Viv has purposefully made a change to her life and wants a fresh start and hedges it with a bet on a magical artifact that actually turns out to be something else. In B&B, a change has been forced on Viv’s life and as a result she meets some people who are the right people and she does some things that she truly enjoys but the timing might not be right. Another thing to note/love is how most of the readers are going to get nostalgic to the fonder times when they discovered reading or bookshops. I truly enjoyed everything about “Thistleburr” in this story.
My tiny nitpicks with this story are that it has bit more action and higher stakes than L&L and in overall is a touch darker too. It might subjectively work for some people who might have wanted some more action in L&L but my preference is on the lighter side for action in cozy fantasy. I also would have liked some more time spent in or around the bookshop than following the side mystery that was set up.
Overall though, with the way this book has expanded the world and Viv’s backstory, and with the author’s flair for writing instantly teleporting prose, and superb side characters – I am delighted. This is an excellent addition to the legends & lattes world and Travis Baldree was and remains, an auto-buy author for me. My strongest recommendation is to read this via audio.