Review: Legends & Lattes by Travis BaldreeLegends & Lattes by Travis Baldree
Published by Tom Doherty Associates on June 7, 2022
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 288
Source: Purchased

The much-beloved BookTok sensation from Travis Baldree, Legends & Lattes is a novel of high fantasy and low stakes.

*The new paperback edition will include a very special, never-before-seen bonus story, 'Pages to Fill.'*

Come take a load off at Viv's cafe, the first & only coffee shop in Thune. Grand opening!

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 filling mugs 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.

“Take a break from epic battles and saving the world. Legends & Lattes is a wholesome, cozy novel that feels like a warm hug. This is my new comfort read.”—Genevieve Gornichec, author of The Witch's Heart

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Travis Baldree describes his debut novel Legends & Lattes as a “low-stakes cozy fantasy,” and this is one case where the marketing fits the bill. 

The story follows the quiet retirement of Viv, an Orc barbarian who’s ready to set aside her broadsword in favour of an espresso machine. In her downtime between quests, Viv stumbled into a café and discovered her passion for coffee. The Dwarvish drink has yet to catch on in most parts of the realm and she’s ready to introduce it to the bustling port city of Thune. Viv puts her entire life savings and all of her heart into making her dream a reality. With the help of some newfound friends, she does exactly that.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a story about opening a coffee shop is not action-packed. Instead, the story focuses on imparting messages about the importance of self-compassion and reinvention, building community, and of course, the simple pleasure of a great cup of coffee. The slice-of-life style slowly reveals the daily experiences of befriending neighbours, hiring employees, and serving customers. The world of Legends & Lattes is vaguely medieval inspired, populated with elves, dwarves, orcs, wizards in training, ratkin creatures, and even a succubus! Charming characters are in abundance, and I particularly enjoyed the partnership and budding romance between Viv and her business partner. 

This is a story about the importance of self-compassion, building community, and of course, the simple pleasure of a great cup of coffee.

Legends & Lattes is a cozy read that warmed my heart and eased my spirit. I think it would work perfectly as a bedtime read, fitting in two or three chapters before going to sleep. If only that was the approach I had taken! Reading this novel in one sitting doesn’t do the low-stakes atmosphere any favours. It feels sort of ridiculous to critique the lack of action – that is the point, after all – but I do think that it would’ve been a stronger story with even one additional subplot. At several points, new and intriguing characters appeared and their arrival had me expecting plot developments that never came. 

Baldree’s simple writing style suits the narrative but doesn’t add much to it. I suspect the straight-forward stylistic choices are what made this one fall a little flat for me; although I’ve been clamouring for more cozy fantasy stories, in hindsight I realize that the ones I’ve enjoyed in the past have all featured beautiful, lyrical prose. I’m curious to see how Baldree’s writing will develop in his next novel. In the meantime, if you have any recommendations for beautifully written quiet fantasy stories, please send them my way!

Dungeons and Dragons meets “coffee shop AU” in this sweet fantasy novel that’s sure to lift the spirits. Recommended for readers interested in the concept of cozy fantasy.