Spoiler-Free Review of Bookshops & Bonedust by Travis Baldree. This book will be released on November 7, 2023.
Travis Baldree cements himself as the undisputed king of the cozy, slice-of-life fantasy novel. Bookshops & Bonedust takes place before the events of Legends & Lattes, following Viv before she decided to settle down, hang up the sword, and open a coffee shop.
Without any spoilers, I can say this book includes a little romance, a cozy, rundown bookshop in need of more than just a lick of paint, and a cool mystery to give the narrative a minor threat to contend with.
I was kindly given a review copy of the audiobook and loved listening to it while surrounded by the Welsh mountains, on holiday with my family. Baldree (already a popular narrator before publishing his own books) narrates this prequel novel beautifully. Because he is an experienced narrator, his sentence structure and word choices suit the format perfectly.
If you are looking for an epic quest of blood, guts, and glory, you won’t find that here. Rather, we instead follow Viv while she recovers from an injury. The low stakes plot has a link to her grand adventures, but this book isn’t really about that; it’s about the lives of the characters Viv meets during her sabbatical.
I struggled to connect a bit with the romance element, but I think that is just one of the downfalls of a prequel: you know what’s going to happen in the future. The friends she meets, however, were fantastic, foul-mouthed, and ideal companions for Viv while she recovered.
I look forward to reading more slice-of-life, cozy fantasy novels from this world, hopefully from the point-of-view of one or more of the characters we have met, either in Legends & Lattes, or Bookshops & Bonedust.
I recently interviewed Travis Baldree, so you can check this out here.