A sweet little love story, with a touch of magic,
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This review is from: Night of Cake and Puppets: A Daughter of Smoke and Bone Novella (Unabridged) (Audio Download)
This gorgeous stand-alone novella is positioned as book 2.5 in the wonderful Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy; I read it after finishing Days of Blood and Starlight and not wanting to move on to something new, and found it to be enchanting. Night of Cake and Puppets tells of the beginning of Zuzana and Mik's love - a story which is fleetingly mentioned in Days of Blood and Starlight but which fully deserves to be told in its own right.
Tiny-but-tough Zuzana, the `rabid fairy' herself, is no sappy romantic. So she doesn't quite know how to behave when she finds herself swooning over `Violin Boy' (Mik), who works alongside her in Prague's puppet theatre every night but who has yet to noice her. Perhaps invigorated by recent events, involving angels and magic, Zuzana arrives at the theatre one evening determined to overcome her nerves, to meet Violin Boy and to sweep him off his feet.
So, armed with her own artistic prowess and a little bit of magic borrowed from Karou, Zuzana crafts an unforgettable night that takes the object of her affections on a walking tour of Prague, tests both his interest and his ability to suspend disbelief, and finally leads him to Zuzana herself (hopefully giving her enough time to pluck up the courage to actually talk to him!).
Night of Cake and Puppets is not just Zuzana's story. It alternates between her perspective and Mik's perspective, allowing us to experience the small moments of magic alongside him. They are a lovely addition to Days of Blood and Starlight, so I enjoyed this aside about the origins of their relationship. It also provides small insights into the deep friendship Zuzana shares with Karou, who doesn't feature directly but is woven in to the story in a few ways.
I love how initially surprised and curious but ultimately unquestioningly accepting of magic both Zuzana and Mik are. It makes this novella a beautiful, quirky little love story but it also represents what I think is one of Laini Taylor's great strengths as a writer: her ability to make the impossible seem not just possible but probable.
Although this is a stand alone short story that could be read in isolation, I think it needs the context of the main trilogy to really do itself justice. Reading it as intended, after the second book (Days of Blood and Starlight) is ideal, both because it fills in the gaps and because it's even more heartwarming if you've already developed some fondness for the characters in the main books.
There's always a question about whether these spin-off Kindle books are worth the money. Compared to the price I'd usually pay for a full book, whether in paperback or for my Kindle, at £1.99 the per-page cost is expensive. But I don't mind paying that for a novella that has a real place in the series and deserved to be written - this is more than a money-spinning after-though, it's a tangential story about two characters that the author (like her readers) clearly feels incredibly fond of.