Title: Bookshops & Bonedust
Series: Legends & Lattes
Author: Travis Baldree
Publisher: Tor Books
Length: 332 Pages
Rating: 5 Stars
At a Glance: Every single message Baldree meant to convey in Bookshops & Bonedust hit their mark with precision, and I took those hits gladly.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: 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.
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.
Review: Picking up a book because of the cover, and then that book turning out to be something you didn’t even know you wanted or needed until every word was pored over, its story chewed up and savored and digested, and then experiencing the utter joy and satisfaction of adoring its characters and everything about the world they live in, is a gift. That explains my unequivocal adoration of Travis Baldree’s Legends & Lattes. Meeting Viv—an ogre and ex-mercenary who simply wants a quiet life, a home, and, maybe, to introduce coffee to the folks of Thune—was a dream come to fruition and a deep dive into heartwarming storytelling.
Baldree says he didn’t intend to write Bookshops & Bonedust as his sophomore novel, but I can’t begin to summarize all the ways in which I’m overjoyed he did. Meeting a younger Viv, a Viv still hungry for adventure, years before she met and fell head over heels in love with Tandri, is abundant with those small, quiet moments that made her “story past the story” in Legends & Lattes so irresistible. This novel is the coziest of fantasies, the story of a woman whose life, up to then, had been unrooted and without the warmth of friendship, discovering that through reading, through books, she could forge deep and meaningful connections between words on the page and guidance in life, and those books would serve to connect her to friends she couldn’t possibly have expected. They remade her into someone she couldn’t have imagined becoming in her own fantasies. Viv learns through stories that being “menacing for a living” might not be half so dangerous as caring for someone. It took Tandri to make Viv want to try.
There is, of course, the story alongside the story, which means Viv and company in a fight against a powerful foe, for the survival of Murk and its townspeople. Viv, having been wounded early on, still runs headlong into the fray because protecting the people she came to care for, even though she has no intention of staying, is who she is. Leaving is what she had to do. Because she wasn’t the right person yet. This thread runs through the end of this story and into the Epilogue, which I read several times with an ache in my chest. Every single message Baldree meant to convey in Bookshops & Bonedust hit their mark with precision, and I took those hits gladly.
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