Review – Bookshops & Bonedust

Bookshops & Bonedust by Travis Baldree

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Bookshops & Bonedust is sold as cosy fantasy, and it delivers on its promise. A standalone prequel to Legends & Lattes, it focuses on Viv the orc at the beginning of her career as a mercenary. She is keen to fight, but a wound forces her to take a reluctant break to recuperate in the quiet town of Murk. She ends up spending most of her time in a bookshop, and after awkwardly accepting a book recommendation from the owner she finds herself increasingly invested in the shop’s fortunes.

There are two levels of plot tension in the book. The overall grand tension is technically the threat to the town from a necromancer. However, the everyday tension that takes most of Viv’s attention is the struggle to keep the bookshop afloat with her friends. Likewise, we see two distinct sides to Viv’s character – the keen mercenary and the gentler shopkeeper. It is made clear throughout that young Viv will go back to being a mercenary once healed, but it also sows the seeds for her eventual retirement from that life when she opens Legends & Lattes. It is also made clear that both sides bring valuable skills that make a whole person – sometimes needing to be headstrong, and sometimes choosing to be more thoughtful.

This book is charming, with a small cast of predominantly female characters and a very gentle ff romance. The extracts from fictional books do feel a bit self-indulgent at times, but I found that very forgivable. There is a slightly bittersweet tone that comes with the time limit of Viv’s stay in the town, but there is also a warmth in the way she finds meaning and friendship despite the fact she won’t be staying. It’s an enjoyable book full of little details, and it compliments Legends and Lattes extremely well.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review,

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