High Fantasy with a double-shot of self-reinvention
Worn out after decades of packing steel and raising hell, Viv the orc barbarian cashes out of the warrior’s life with one final score. A forgotten legend, a fabled artifact, and an unreasonable amount of hope lead her to the streets of Thune, where she plans to open the first coffee shop the city has ever seen.
However, her dreams of a fresh start pulling shots instead of swinging swords are hardly a sure bet. Old frenemies and Thune’s shady underbelly may just upset her plans. To finally build something that will last, Viv will need some new partners and a different kind of resolve.
A hot cup of fantasy slice-of-life with a dollop of romantic froth
If Shrek and Puss in Boots had a baby, he would look like Legends & Latte !
That book feels like a warm hug and I couldn’t help but seeing the characters, the small town, the coffee shop exactly like I would see a DreamWorks Animation movie!
Maybe I was influenced by the US cover having Viv, our orc and main character and Tandri, our succubus and side character drawn exactly like Shrek movies but… well I found it very fitting for that story!
You see, Viv, is a just retired mercenary. She has decided to hang up her loyal sword on the wall and realize one of her dreams: opening a coffee shop!
In a town where people don’t even know what coffee is!
She planned carefully, reading a lot about making coffee and I guess managing a shop. She even used a magic rod to find the best place in the town. She also has another magical trick in her bag to help her.
The thing is, we watch Viv strolling into town , trying to appear as unthreatening as possible despite her height and bulging muscles and looking after the owner of the derelict place she chose as her future business.
That purchase settled thanks to her nest egg, she then will look for the best carpenter to help her. And she will soon recruit taciturn Cal, an iron fey, to help her renovate.
Step by step, Viv will collect coworkers or helpers that will become her friends.
It was very gratifying to read each momentum in her journey. To witness Viv winning over the people of Thune. To see their faces washed in contentment at drinking their soon to become favorite beverage and eat some delicious pastry.
“The combined aromas of hot cinnamon, ground coffee, and sweet cardamom intoxicated her, and as she brewed and smiled and served and chatted, a deep contentment welled up. It was a glowing warmth she’d never experienced before, and she liked it. She liked it a great deal.”
The pace is slow but fits the story. Like coffee, it’s meant to be sipped and not drank at once for fear of scalding the tongue!
What’s important is the journey, the friendships made along the way, the resilience even, the cuteness too and the diversity of characters (there is a whole lore there).
Of course, to keep us interested, we will have some (mild) threats, some ordeals to overcome but all in all, it was a sweet read. One that will leave you happy and maybe … sappy too? But the good kind of sappy!
That was for sure refreshing and a very different read from the ones I have read this year! Some called it a Cozy Fantasy and I think it’s fitting!
Thanks for reading!