Night of Cake and Puppets

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

Daughter of Smoke and Bone | Days of Blood and Starlight

Night of Cake and Puppets was written by Laini Taylor and first published in 2013. It is a spin-off novella that takes place in the world of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, telling the story of how Zuzana and Mik started dating. The story largely stands alone but is designed to be read after Daughter of Smoke and Bone (2011) and Days of Blood and Starlight (2012). The final instalment of the series, Dreams of Gods and Monsters, was published in 2014.

Zuzana has always believed in magic. With a friend like Karou, it would be impossible not to. Yet Karou has now gone and left Zuzana with a parting gift of five scuppies. Zuzana knows that the minor wishes aren’t good for much but she hopes that they will be enough for what she has planned. She has been looking for a way to get to know a certain handsome violinist, and a little magic could be all it takes.

Unknown to Zuzana, the violinist has also noticed to her. There is something about the fierce puppet maker that appeals to Mik, but he does not know how to approach her. Zuzana can be intimidating and he does not want to make a bad first impression. However, he certainly does not expect her to make the first move. When he finds a treasure map hidden in his violin case, he knows that he has to follow its cryptic clues. The prize at its centre is the thing that he wants most of all.

As Zuzana leads Mik on a quest through the streets of Prague, the two quickly learn that they were made for each other. While the scuppies make the treasure hunt unforgettable, the true magic comes later as Zuzana and Mik are finally able to enjoy their night of cake and puppets.

Night of Cake and Puppets forms a beautiful companion story to the main Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. While Zuzana’s treasure hunt is alluded to in Days of Blood and Starlight, this is the first time that readers truly discover what happened on that magical night. Yet, if you’re unfamiliar with Taylor’s work, this novella probably isn’t the best place to start. While most of this story can be enjoyed in isolation, there are a lot of nods to the main series. If you’re not familiar with Karou’s quest or how the wish-based magic system works, you probably won’t get the most out of this story.

However, if you are a fan of the series, this novella is certainly a must buy. The hardback edition is simply stunning and looks great on a shelf. Beneath the dust jacket, the cover is brightly coloured and illustrated by a drawing of the two protagonists. Yet the true treat is between the pages. The entire novel is filled with Zuzana’s gorgeous pencil sketches, which compliment the story on almost every page. These were all drawn by Jim di Bartolo, who you may recognise as the artist who illustrated the Daughter of Smoke and Bone graphic novel.

In addition to the this, the novel also contains a number of extras after the story. These include more pages of artwork, an excerpt from the graphic novel and the opening chapter of Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Combined, all of these things help to bulk out the novella into a wonderful collector’s item which is well worth splashing out on.

The story itself is short and sweet, carrying the whimsical charm that makes Taylor’s work so enjoyable. While it lacks the world-building of the main series, it still presents a lovely romantic tale. The story is told in first-person from the perspectives of both Zuzanna and Mik, yet the transition between the two is very smooth. Each character always narrates several chapters before switching to the other, nicely emphasising both Zuzana’s plan and the effect that it has on Mik.

The tale is entirely self-contained and succeeds in bringing magic to the streets of Prague. It really had the feel of a faerie story as Mik follows a series of subtly magical clues to find a pair of puppets, hoping that they will eventually lead him to the puppet maker. For me, the biggest disappointment was that the novella was over so quickly. Taylor’s storytelling was beautiful and it truly drew me in, leaving me wanting to read more.

Yet the charm of this novel was really due to its characters. As I said in my review of Days of Blood and Starlight, Zuzana and Mik are two of my favourites. Zuzana in particular is a breath of fresh air. She is the source of most of the humour in the main series and it was lovely to see her get her own adventure. Her fiery eccentricity is nicely balanced in this story by Mik’s calm wonder. The two of them make a beautiful couple and I’m so glad that they’re together. While there are some brief cameos from the likes of Karou and Kaz, they don’t really have any impact on this novel. This is Zuzana and Mik’s tale and it’s magical.

So, all in all, I don’t have much more to say about this novella. While Night of Cake and Puppets won’t hold a lot of appeal to people who have not read Daughter of Smoke and Bone, fans of the series will certainly eat it up. The novella is beautifully written and the hardback version in particular is a work of art. If you have read the rest of the series, I would certainly recommend picking up a copy as it will make a wonderful addition to your collection.

Night of Cake and Puppets can be purchased as a Paperback, eBook and Audio Book on Amazon.co.uk

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: The Sobeks 2018 – Part 3 | Arkham Reviews
  2. Trackback: Dreams of Gods and Monsters | Arkham Reviews

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