Review: The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz

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God, this was lovely. It’s short, fluffy, very slice of life – a perfect palate cleanser. Yet another book I wouldn’t have read if not for the r/Fantasy Bingo challenge – short on time, I needed something to knock out the AI Character square quickly – and I’m very, very glad I did.

Clara is an AI mechanic who likes to move into a new town every year. When she moves to Seattle, she meets Sal – a fully autonomous robot running a tea shop. What follows is a very sweet, ace romance. With tea.

First of all, I loved the worldbuilding. It’s set in the far future, a few hundred years after fully autonomous robots like Sal have been forbidden due to ethical concerns. Instead, people own Raises – AI assistants/companions in the form of animals who have personalities, but no free will, no ability to grow or change. And even though she’s older than the law, Sal faces a lot of harassment and vandalism.

Another detail I liked – Sal’s tea flavours sound delicious.

The writing style and the dialogue felt mildly clunky at points, but the worldbuilding, the characters, and the sheer charm of the premise more than made up for it. The biggest issue I had is that I want more set in the same world. The take on AI is interesting, and it feels like there’s more to be explored. A short novella didn’t feel like quite enough.

Enjoyment: 4/5
Execution: 4/5

Recommended to: anyone looking for a short, sweet read, fans of slice of life SFF, those looking for F/F romance (ownvoices) and asexual protagonists
Not recommended to:  well…if you don’t like any of the above?

4 thoughts on “Review: The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz”

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