NIGHT OF CAKE & PUPPETS (A Daughter of Smoke and Bone novella)
Author: Laini Taylor
Read Date: 8 January 2014
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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.
I wish I was typing this post up while eating chocolate cake and sipping Moroccan mint tea. *tragic sigh*
As meet-cutes go, Zuzana and Mik’s is probably one of the best I’ve ever read. A treasure hunt around Prague? Come on, it’s gotta be tough to top that!
It’s not surprising that Zuzana was the one who orchestrated their first meeting, especially knowing what we know about her from the “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” novels; she is a very assertive lady.
Milquetoast girls raised on princess stories might sit tight and bat their eyelashes in desperate Morse code – notice me, like me, please – but I am not that girl.
And if “Night of Cake and Puppets” happens to be your happy accident of an introduction to Zuzana and the series, well, now you know (and knowing is half the battle, so get to reading “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” and “Days of Blood and Starlight” already!)
One of the things that really intrigued me in this novella is the reveal that Zuzana (and her grandfather) had experiences with magic before all the shit with Karou went down in “Smoke and Bone”. And maybe it’s not much of a stretch to think that the undead fox Cossack inside the glass box in Zuzana’s house is a creature from that other world where the Chimaera and the Seraphim reside.
Once you know magic is real, it’s really hard to remember what it was like not to know. It’s kind of like trying to see how you look with your eyes closed.
The other thing that intrigued me is Zuzana using magic in the form of wishes made on the scuppies that Karou gave her. It has been some time since I read the 2 novels, particularly the first, so I am not sure if the magic system of the DoSaB Universe allowed just about any mortal to use scuppies or wishes when they get a hold of them. In any case, Zuzana’s use of it adds another dimension to the rules of magic in play.
‘It was magic,’ I say simply. I’ve learned this from Karou, as regards magic: You can tell the most outlandish truths with virtually no risk of being believed.
The last thing is that Zuzana would use 4 of her 5 precious wishes to get Mik. But then again, that’s passionate (and vicious) Zuzana for you.
I have scuppies in my pocket and lust in my heart. Tonight’s the night.
I had a problem with Mik’s chapters, though. In the beginning of Chapter 5, when the novella switches to his point of view for the first time, there was no noticeable change in the character voice. Mik’s narration had that same wit and parenthetic expressions that Zuzana’s had. There were also parallel stuff, like enumerating the things they know about each other.
I think I get what Taylor was going for here, showing more of the couple’s compatibility, but…well, Mik just sounds like Zuzana, only less giddier. His inner character seems too idealized, as if it was Zuzana talking. I’m sorry if this comes off as rather prejudiced, but…do men think like this or talk to themselves in their head like this? (No, really, serious question. I won’t judge you if you say “yes”; I just want to know if it’s authentic. )
But I like Mik; it’s hard not to like him after reading about him in the 2 novels. I don’t mind him being just your normal nice guy; he’s exactly what Zuzana needs for a partner.
He’s like a good book cover that grabs your gaze. Read me. I’m fun but smart. You won’t be able to put me down.
These in-between stories from the POV of secondary characters seems to have become a trend for YA series lately. This novella, though, enjoyable as it was, could have done with more editing. There is a lot of introspection to give readers an idea about the characters’ motivations and feelings, yes, but Zuzana and Mik overstayed their welcome a bit, and I can’t even believe I just said that about them and Taylor’s writing. But that’s just how I felt after reading it.
I still love the story, of course, and highly recommend it, even to those who haven’t read the first 2 DoSaB novels. It’s sweet and fun and magical and romantic. It has that same lyrical and dream-like quality as the novels, and it still makes me wish I had scuppies so I can wish myself to Prague right now.
And now I really must go find some tea.
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