Legends and Lattes – Review

Author – Travis Baldree

Pages – 320

Publishing Information – Tor, 10th November 2022

I am bringing this review to you as part of the UK Tor Blog Tour. Thanks so much to UK Tor, Black Crow PR and the author Travis Baldree for giving me this opportunity to be part of the tour in exchange for this honest review. You can check out the full schedule below:

The One Sentence Review

The absolute perfect Autumn fantasy read – grab a warm pastry or slice of cake and a steaming mug.

The Blurb

High fantasy, low stakes – with a double-shot of coffee.

After decades of adventuring, Viv the orc barbarian is finally hanging up her sword for good. Now she sets her sights on a new dream – for she plans to open the first coffee shop in the city of Thune. Even though no one there knows what coffee actually is.

If Viv wants to put the past behind her, she can’t go it alone. And help might arrive from unexpected quarters. Yet old rivals and new stand in the way of success. And Thune’s shady underbelly could make it all too easy for Viv to take up the blade once more.

But the true reward of the uncharted path is the travellers you meet along the way. Whether bound by ancient magic, delicious pastries or a freshly brewed cup, they may become something deeper than Viv ever could have imagined.

The Review


This was my first ever slice of life fantasy read and wow does it just give you all the warm feelings. It’s a treat for the senses (rather teasingly at times if you don’t have sweet goodies to hand) in which you can practically crumple sawdust underfoot, feel steam in the air, taste the hot beverages and hear the jovial sounds of a working coffee shop.

In a world in which fantasy readers are often looking for something new and original, (sometimes meaning breaking away from some of the D&D tropes and fantasy races), it was really refreshing to read a book in which the old school fantasy vibes were revisited and in which that fresh originality comes from the plot and setting.

We have various fantasy races mentioned or featured to make the world feel lived, vibrant and diverse but it also makes us feel more familiar because we don’t have to learn loads of new stuff, which is one of the building blocks to the cosy, comfort read feel that this book ultimately achieves. How else is this achieved? Well, although there are swords (clean ones) and magic – it is still a fantasy book afterall – rather than an olde traveller’s tavern, the fact that the main character Viv sets up a coffee shop (the titular Legends and Lattes) brings something modern and entirely familiar into a totally unexpected setting and the result is tremendous.

For one, we are so familiar with the medieval-inspired fantasy town centres as our heroes travel through them on their quests, but how often do we get to experience the other side and the point of view of the business owners?

Obviously the worlds of different fantasy books are mostly unconnected, but it actually unconsciously fleshes out existing worlds that are separate to this and giving those urban spaces more identity and character because it makes us feel like we know what it’s like to own a store in a traditional fantasy land. Maybe that’s just me, but it was an added bonus I think is cool.

The sights, sounds and setting aren’t the only features that can add to that whole cosy feeling and in fact there are a lot of subtle nuances combined. I liked that each chapter has a little image underneath the chapter number; a candle, a mug, a needle and thread, a chess piece, a book. Cosy things. Another factor for me though was that there are little separating lines in each chapter to break the chapters up into chunks. I just can’t imagine a book feeling cosy that is a big slog between chapters or events. It gives it a sort of episodic feel – again linking to something familiar and comfortable with the way we consume media especially during the current times. Setting up a shop, the challenges that come with it, developing a menu. A number of hurdles that aren’t fate of the world.

Fantasy novels often feature deadly diseases, evil powers trying to take over the world, dystopian societies. And we consume this stuff to escape the everyday grind of the real world.

In a world in which pandemics, the threat of the end of the world and dystopian events ARE becoming part of our every day, the means of escape is turned on its head. The fact Viv is an orc with a violent past who’s just tired of it all and wants to share with others her love of coffee and a pastries lends itself so well to how many people probably feel and that resonates with readers.

To add the icing on the cake so to speak, and the biggest strength of the book, is that many of the characters we are introduced to are thoughtful, caring, passionate and full of empathy. Again this leans into why this book gives you a feeling of comfort and safety in a world in which kindness feels to be lacking but aside from this, it’s just great to have a bunch of characters you really care about. There are messages of acceptance, of fresh starts, of doing the right thing and especially of working together to create something magical. And it’s made me want to put a chalkboard in the kitchen…

Legends and Lattes will be one of those books that hundreds of fantasy fans come back to every autumn, or every time they need a hug. It’s the only fantasy book I’ve encountered that envelopes you in a blanket while you’re reading and tells you everything is going to be ok.

And this book is more than just ok, it’s truly a delight.

Legends and Lattes is out now, available in a goegeous hardcover and ebook from UK Tor.


2 thoughts on “Legends and Lattes – Review

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