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They Met In A Tavern Book (Review + Extras)

THEY MET IN A TAVERN, by Elijah Menchaca

Imprint: CamCat Books

Publication Date: August 10th, 2021

ISBN: 9780744303834

Page Count: 412 pages

⭐⭐⭐⭐


Content Warnings: Mild suggestive content; Gore; Violence

*I received an e-arc from Edelweiss and TBR and Beyond Tours free of charge, and my opinions are completely my own.*


They were the Starbreakers. They’d been freelancing since they were teenagers. They’d rediscovered entire fields of magical study. Founded churches. Killed things that weren’t supposed to exist. They were the heroes of more places than he could remember the names of. This wasn’t how things were supposed to go.

The band is getting back together—and they really wish they weren’t.

The Starbreakers were your classic teenage heroes. Using their combined powers and skills, they were the most successful group of glintchasers in Corsar. But that all changed the day the city of Relgen died. The group went their separate ways, placing the blame on each other.

Brass carried on as a solo act. Snow found work as a notorious assassin. Church became a town’s spiritual leader. Angel was the owner of a bar and inn. And after overcoming his own guilt, Phoenix started a new life as a family man.

Years after their falling out, a new threat looms when bounty hunters attack the former heroes. Phoenix tries to reunite the Starbreakers before everything they have left is taken from them. But a lot can change in seven years. And if mending old wounds was easy, they would have done it a long time ago.

MY TOP FIVE REASONS TO READ THEY MET IN A TAVERN:

  1. I am a Dungeon and Dragons nerd (currently in two campaigns and trying to create a homebrew one to DM), and this book has big RPG vibes. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if Menchaca had gotten inspired by a campaign he was playing/running and then chose to create a story around what happened next.

  2. I love reading about what happened to protagonists AFTER The Big Event, and Menchaca delivers on that in this story. We get to hear about Phoenix’s family, Brass having “over-experimented with mind-altering substances in my youth”, Church’s regret and guilt over The Big Event, and more.

  3. Brass’s fast-paced quips in the face of danger often had me chuckling at my work desk.

  4. Brass woke up lying naked on the floor of what was either an expensive inn or a pretentious brothel. His first thought was that the place had incredibly lush carpeting in its rooms.

  5. To go with the previous point, Menchaca has a way with words that had me highlighting all over TMIAT. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

  6. “You gentlemen neglected to introduce yourselves, even though you know my name. So, until you learn your manners,” Brass warned, pointing at the two men, “you’re Greg, and you’re Wallace.”

  7. Strength and guidance. It’s all anyone really needs in the world, isn’t it? Besides bread and a roof, obviously.

  8. “Because your murder boner is turning you into a literal beacon, and spying on people usually takes subtlety.”

  9. “You’re trying to help yourself,” Angel corrected. “The fact that it would help me at all is an accident.”

  10. “You were always a good person, but you got distracted. You would find a problem to solve and fixate on it and forget that the people around you are people, not puzzle pieces.”

  11. And at least this mage wasn’t a murderous psychopath --- just incredibly full of herself.

  12. “He fucked up, you fucked up, how about we just admit we all fucked up and be a pile of fuckups? Wow, that’s an image.”

  13. “That ‘companies are families’ stuff’s bullshit and survivor’s bias.”

  14. He thought about a lot of things. Elizabeth and Robyn. His old companions. A possible way to synthesize rubber.

  15. I love how Arman, a.k.a Phoenix, is autistic-coded and still known to be a normal/unbroken person. It is clear that his mental processes are neurodivergent - Elizabeth seems to be his helpmeet and guide when he needs her to be. However, Arman is not inherently challenged or set back by this - he is still an intelligent inventor, who can make snap decisions that will make or break his chances of survival.

My only real complaint is that Menchaca writes his female-presenting characters as rather one-dimensional in comparison to the male-presenting characters. There are four major AFAB characters within They Met In A Tavern: Elizabeth (Phoenix’s wife), Snow (former Starbreaker and current assassin), Ruby (the lady of the night hired by Brass for a sting and unfortunately trapped in their drama), and Angel (actual angel who has been born as a human). I could honestly sum up each person with one specific trait and the reader would probably learn everything they need to know from that word/phrase. For example:

  • Elizabeth - mother/wife,

  • Snow - cold shoulder,

  • Ruby - wrong place, wrong time,

  • and Angel - just wants to run her inn.

Granted, there is Thalia, who I love and would like to propose to if she were real, but she isn’t a major character - she is just a side character meant to support one of the Starbreakers. Meanwhile, we get Church’s internal conflict with his regret and what he knew he had to do or Brass’s struggle to be authentic while keeping himself safe. It is a bit disappointing to realize that the reason I keep forgetting about the female characters three-quarters of the way through is because it feels like Menchaca did too. I feel we could chalk this up to inexperience writing from the AFAB point of view, but honestly it shouldn't be that hard.

The Starbreakers (left to right): Church, Brass, Phoenix, Angel, and Snow.

When you read, can you imagine the characters breaking out into song and maybe even a cool dance sequence? Can you see the male lead realizing his own fallacies and recognizing that maybe he can’t do it all by himself through a heartbreaking ballad? Or attributing what could be a tense argument by having everyone sing “Your Fault” from Into the Woods? Wow, so do I! You can get a little glimpse into my mind, no prayer needed, by listening to my Oh My God, They Met In A Tavern playlist right here.

Are you still not sure about reading They Met In A Tavern? Well, if you like these books:

  • The Adventure Zone graphic novels, by Clint McElroy

  • Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson

  • The Legend of Drizzt series, by R. A. Salvatore

Then you’d definitely want to grab a copy of They Met In A Tavern!

Excited to read They Met In A Tavern yet? I feel you. However, like the blog says, I am a broke person who has little money for brand new books. If you are just like me, never fear - with the #TheyMetInATavernTour, there is a blog giveaway! One winner will receive a finished copy of They Met in a Tavern. The giveaway starts on August 9th and ends on August 16th. To enter, just go to this raffle and enter your information!

Another super awesome thing is that They Met In A Tavern is out as of tomorrow! You can get a copy from your local bookstore or library, or you can get a copy online. Click on these buy links and you can get your own copy at the following links.

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound.

Many thanks to TBR and Beyond Tours for allowing me to join the They Met In A Tavern book tour! You can check out the rest of the tour stops on their Tour Schedule webpage.

Elijah Menchaca was born and raised in Bakersfield, California and has been writing and telling stories since he was five. After seeing his first short stories on his grade school classroom’s bookshelf, he knew he was destined for greatness. To chase that greatness (and a girl), he attended the University of Louisville where he minored in Creative Writing, discovered a love for Dungeons and Dragons, and got engaged.

Now, based in Ohio, when he isn’t exploring the world he’s created with more stories, he’s making new memories around the virtual table with his old friends, pondering the worlds of fantasy and superheroes on his YouTube channel, and playing the role of devoted partner to a woman far too good for him.



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