Legends & Lattes is part of the ‘cozy fantasy’ subgenre. This has gained popularity in recent years, along with cozy mystery and cozy science fiction, with Baldree’s book launching it into the mainstream. These ‘cozy’ versions of well-known genres focus on warmth, friendship, and community, giving the reader a feel-good experience that’s bolstered by familiar genre tropes. Legends & Lattes has this in spades, and by the end, you feel as though you’ve made some new friends yourself.
What I liked most about this book was how entirely it delivers on its promises. While there are a number of sub-plots, the majority of the drama is entirely based around whether or not Viv will succeed in opening a coffee shop. It’s a reminder of just how little is needed for a story to be compelling, as long as you give the reader a reason to care about what’s going on.
The characters are well-drawn and memorable, and Viv has enough complexity to be a compelling lead. Baldree’s obvious affection for them is endearing, and comes across in the detail and care he puts into their characterisation. His descriptions of the everyday workings of a coffee shop – sprinkled with fantasy twists – are impossible not to enjoy, and each mundane happening is given the weight of a significant plot twist. It’s a tribute to the small joys and simple pleasures of life, told with intelligence, humour, and heart.
As the days grow colder and the nights longer, many of us like to curl up with a blanket, a mug of hot chocolate and a good book. If that’s what you’re after, Legends & Lattes is the perfect read. It doesn’t shy away from the darker aspects of life, but it emphasis how friendship, care, and a good cup of coffee can help us tackle them. In a world where fear and uncertainty seem to grow by the day, there can be few more encouraging messages than that.
Review by Charlie Alcock