This was a one-sitting read that I was forced to read in multiple sittings. There is nothing MINDBLOWING about this book, but I also couldn’t think of a reason NOT to give it five stars. It made me feel cozy and warm, and it was extremely satisfying. High ratings absolutely deserved, glad it was picked up by Tor (I think officially it’s being published 11/8/22 but I managed to snag a Cryptid Press edition before it went out of print). I have no idea if there will be differences in the Tor book from this one, but there doesn’t need to be. This book was just a perfect little Thimblet (in-joke for the book, not sorry).
Our main character is Viv, a former orc barbarian who has now retired. (The book takes place in a world not unlike that of D&D.) She’s done with the adventuring and the violence and plundering, though, and now she wants to settle down and open up a coffee shop in a carefully chosen city. Coffee is this delicious beverage she found that’s made by gnomes in a place far from Thune, her chosen city. Nobody in Thune understands what she’s trying to build, and what even is coffee, but with help from people she meets in her new home, she grows her new shop to be a place of warmth and welcome.
That’s not to say that there aren’t hiccups; there are some pretty major ones that feel like a really big deal to Viv and her crew, but it says right there on the cover that this is ‘A novel of high fantasy and low stakes’. So you know exactly what you’re getting. This isn’t world-saving fantasy. It’s cozy fantasy.