In Night of Cake & Puppets, Taylor brings to life a night only hinted at in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy—the magical first date of fan-favorites Zuzana and Mik. Told in alternating perspectives, it’s the perfect love story for fans of the series and new readers alike. Petite though she may be, Zuzana is not known for timidity. Her best friend, Karou, calls her “rabid fairy,” her “voodoo eyes” are said to freeze blood, and even her older brother fears her wrath. But when it comes to the simple matter of talking to Mik, or “Violin Boy,” her courage deserts her. Now, enough is enough. Zuzana is determined to meet him, and she has a fistful of magic and a plan. It’s a wonderfully elaborate treasure hunt of a plan that will take Mik all over Prague on a cold winter’s night before finally leading him to the treasure: herself! Violin Boy’s not going to know what hit him. (Goodreads)
Rating: 5 out of 5
Man, this novella was so good. Honestly, I was suffering from some Laini withdrawals and this book was perfect for making me experience her beautiful words again. It’s not the world in fantastical Karou’s perspective but rather in the human Zuzana’s; however, as always, Laini trickles the story with its own type of magic. We can all agree that we fell in love with Zuzana and Mik’s relationship while reading the Daughter of Smoke & Bone series, and this novella finally let’s us delve into their minds and see how magical their first meeting truly was. You need to read this book; if not for how lovable these two character are, then for the beautiful writing itself which is so Laini.
I must say, I’m not a huge fan of novellas in general. I feel like most novellas tend to be either too short or just too filler-y—or sometimes a combination of both. It’s pretty obvious that these books are used by authors as promotional items for their real works. Still, sometimes I am left feeling like the novellas are really just too short or irrelevant to be worth the money we are charged for them. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand that authors need to make a living to and totally support them in their forays into novella-writing; however, you can’t blame me for opting out on buying some novellas because they truly are not worth it. The great thing is, Night of Cake & Puppets is one of the few novellas I would whole-heartedly recommend readers to buy. It is not only a whopping 85+ pages, but the story itself gives us a glimpse into major characters that are truly developed within the writing. All this for $2.99 on Kindle, and I do not regret it.
This story is told by jumping between Zuzana and Mik’s point-of-views, and I loved finally hearing from them for long periods of time. Their voices are something altogether different from what we’ve seen in Karou and Akiva, and it is a nice change. They’re something a little bit simpler, but that simplicity does not make their trials any less significant. This story takes readers on a night’s journey from puppet booths to cafes to rivers where two people try to woo each other in the process—really, it was like a courtship, and I loved it. The way Zuzana choreographs the night and how Mik plays along is so refreshingly creative and breathtaking. There is magic and whimsy and love, and it all had me smiling for a long time after finishing the story. It made me wish I were falling in love with them, and then made we wish I could start the process all over again. The way Laini wrote Zuzana and Mik’s thoughts towards each other left me aching, and that’s exactly what a good story should do to you. So, yes, this story is a must. Happy reading!