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 traveller in grey, 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.
TW: Violence/Murder, Blood, Injury/Disability/Accessibility.
“There’s something about being given a book, knowing it’s meant for you. Feeling seen by it.”Travis Baldree, Bookshops and Bonedust
Well, wasn’t this just a wonderful love story to Bookseller’s everywhere? I don’t know if Travis Baldree used to be a bookseller, or was just in love with one but this is such a wholesome homage to the entire reading industry. I’ve said before that I love when I can tell that the author writing loves their genre, but it’s clear from this prequel that Baldree loves reading, loves writing, and loves bookshops.
Bookshops are magical, there’s no doubt – so seeing one in such a cosy fantasy setting was lovely. Bookshops and Bonedust is such a great set up for Viv and her journey of stepping away from the classic Orc Barbarian tropes, before reflecting on how far she’s come (aka, after her story in Legends and Lattes, so beware spoilers in the Epilogue!) in her new adventures.
I really enjoy the way Baldree takes those classic High Fantasy tropes, the DnD vibes of a chronological mystery and adventure with a great selection of secondary characters, just enough romance to make Viv blush, and just enough violence to keep it from feeling safe – and then makes something so familiar, fresh and cosy.
Because this is prequel, I’ll forgive that the stakes weren’t higher, nor the world massively expanded on since Legends and Lattes, as you would expect from a sequel – and some of the stakes (such as the romance) are lower because we know more about Viv’s relationships from reading Legends and Lattes, but Bookshops and Bonedust is one of my favourite reads of this year, and I can’t wait for more people to pick it up!