BooksOfTheMoon

Bookshops & Bonedust

By Travis Baldree

Rating: 5 stars

I adored Legends and Lattes when I read it last year, and while I was a bit worried about this prequel, it totally hits the same spot. In this one, Viv is just starting her adventuring career, and is merrily swinging her trusty sword when a wight stabs her in the leg, requiring several weeks of rest and recuperation. Her comrades deposit her in a sleepy seaside town while they continue their quest, and Viv ends up making the acquaintance of the local bookshop owner, Fern, in her personal quest to avoid boredom.

Given that we know Viv’s eventual destination, we know from the start that the friends that she makes in the little town of Murk will only be fleeting, but that doesn’t make it any the easier, for Viv or for the reader, to leave Fern, and Maylee, and Satchel and the others behind. But like Viv, we make the most of the time we spend with them.

As with its predecessor, this core of this book is in the relationships that the protagonist forms while she’s in town. With Fern, the bookshop owner, with whom she becomes firm friends; with Maylee, the baker, with whom she starts a shy romance; with Iridis, the watch leader, with whom she forms a mutual respect. And then there’s Satchel. I wasn’t expecting the bonedust of the title to be literal, but there’s a talking, book-loving skeleton right there.

There’s more magic in this book than the last one too. One criticism of Legends and Lattes was that it was a book about starting a small business wrapped in a thin veneer of fantasy. Well between Satchel, the book, and Varine (a necromancer and villain of the piece), I don’t think that can be said about this one, even if Viv does spend more time wielding a paintbrush than a sword.

The afterword talks about the book that Baldree had intended to write, a mystery story set in the same world, but with different characters. That didn’t work out this time, but it sounds like a story that I’d love to read.

In the meantime we have this. It’s cosy, a delight to read, and with a somewhat bittersweet ending, as Viv does, after all, leave Murk to continue the adventuring career that ends with her starting Legends & Lattes, twenty years down the line. We know where she ends up, but I loved this little window showing us one of the events that made her into the person she becomes.

Note: I got an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Book details

ISBN: 9781035007387
Publisher: Tor Books

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