Novella Review: Night of Cake & Puppets

Rating: 5 stars
Pub Date: November 26, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: young adult fantasy, magical realism, romance
Format/Source: ebook, bought from Amazon
Status: novella, book #1.5 of Daughter of Smoke & Bone series
Summary: 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.

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I started listening to the Daughter of Smoke and Bone audiobook in my car this week, and I love that it's taken me back to the world of Karou and her chimera friends and Akiva and the angels, which is something "Night of Cake and Puppets" also did a couple months ago when it was released. This novella doesn't follow the primary action of the trilogy, instead detailing the story of Zuzana, Karou's best friend, and Mik, the boy she loves. This novella is lovely, as are all of Laini's stories. There is magic in this story, and not just all the wishes Zuzana uses to create the treasure hunt. The magic is Laini and the enchanting world she has created and the gorgeous words she uses like paints to create it.

Zuzana has always been a feisty character so I loved seeing her a little unsure. It...softened her, made her less intimidating and human. In Days of Blood and Starlight, she and Mik basically march up to a camp of chimera more or less fearlessly. It's amazing and totally relatable that a cute boy nearly brings her to her knees. At the same time, I absolutely admire and covet her bravery to go after Mik in such spectacular fashion. Meanwhile Mik, who is quite a small character in the main plot arc, shines as the winsome suitor. Mik is charming and sweet, which is a lovely change from the hardened and tough male characters who dominate Karou's story (not that I don't love them too!). 

The plot of this novella is quite simple: Zuzana creates a treasure hunt for Mik, and she is the prize. The real magic is the getting there. These two circle one another throughout the snow-silenced streets of Prague in a dance every bit as alluring and elegant as Zuzana's marionette dance for her school project. Zuzana makes good use of the wishes Karou left her, and she and Mik each add some of their own. The fact that Zuzana created the hunt and that Mik is so willing to play along–and even add a couple twists of his own–casts an intangible but very real spell over this story and the reader. I was entralled by this darling short story. I found myself gasping and sighing dreamily at all the good parts. This, and my reread of DoBS and Days of Blood and Starlight, are more than enough to tide me over until the conclusion of the trilogy with Dreams of Gods and Monsters, which is sure to be just as much of a magical adventure.

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About the Author:
Laini Taylor is the author of the National Book Award Finalist Lips Touch: Three Times, as well as the novels Blackbringer and Silksinger. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, illustrator Jim Di Bartolo, and their daughter.

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  1. Wow five stars; great review! I must read this book! ;)

  2. This sounds great, I've never heard of the series until now. Definitely adding it to my TBR!

  3. Ooo, I am tragically behind when it comes to this series. I've read and re-read Daughter of Smoke and Bone so many times, I feel like I have it memorized. But then I told myself that I was not going to read Days of Blood and Starlight until closer to the release date of Dreams of Gods and Monsters... which ended up being forever away. And then this novella.

    Anyway, I am super excited to read this now! I usually don't bother with novellas, but this one sounds like one I shouldn't miss! 5 stars is really great, and Zuzana is such a fun character to follow. Love!

    Fantastic review, Mary!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

  4. A treasure hunt in Prague sounds so romantic! It would certainly win me over! ;)

  5. I really enjoyed this one! The atmosphere and charming characters are so refreshing!

  6. I enjoyed this! But I'm sure I'd enjoy anything Laini wrote :D

  7. I really need to read this! Honestly, I really need to reread both books before the third (and last--sob) comes out. I love Taylor's writing and try to read everything she puts out. Great review--you've made me even more eager.

  8. I thought this novella was so cute! I especially love how uncertain both characters were, not knowing if the other person liked them back. It's very different from the major plots in Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight, and I really liked that. I also love getting to know even more about Zuzana and Mik's characters. I hope Laini Taylor writes more novellas and I can't wait to read Dreams of Gods and Monsters as well!

  9. I just downloaded this novella because I am going crazy waiting for Dreams of Gods and Monsters. I'm excited that you are listening to the audio, because I think Khristine Hvam is one of the better narrators being used for YA right now. (She also does Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series and a few others.)

  10. I didn't even know this novella existed! Thanks for the review! I'm excited to read it now :)

  11. I liked this novella, too. Zuzana and Mik aren't my favorite characters in the series, but they sure are lovable. It was also cool of Laini to put something out while we waited for Dreams of Gods and Monsters. Nice review!