It may have taken me two tries to see and appreciate the genius that is Laini Taylor but when I did read the Daughter of Smoke & Bone series, it was like falling in love with a book and a world and a set of characters. There’s something so special about that feeling and so I kept this little novella that comprises part 2.5 in the series for a reainy day. This rainy day has come.
NIGHT OF CAKE & PUPPETS
by Laini Taylor
illustrated by Jim Di Bartolo
Published: Little, Brown, 2013
eBook: 218 pages
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2.5
My rating: 7/10
Opening line: On top of the cabinet in the back of my father’s workshop – which was my gradnfather’s workshop and will one day be mine, if I want it – there is a puppet.
In this stand-alone companion to the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone series comes the story of Mik and Zuzana’s fantastical first date–as a gorgeously illustrated gift edition with bonus content included.
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 make the first move, 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 leading him to the treasure: herself! Violin Boy is not going to know what hit him.
Oh Zuzana, you tiny wonderful menace in need of a kiss! It may be mentioned in the main series how Mik and Zuzana met and, eventually, became a couple, but because that story sounds crazy and wild, I am glad we get the slightly longer and more detailed version with this book.
Zuzana had had her eyes on violinist Mik for a while and, as is only natural, has thus devised a plan to send him on a hunt through Prague, equipped with a hand-drawn treasure map, riddles, and – of course – puppets! What she doesn’t know is that Mik has equally noticed the girl they call “rabid fairy”. He is fascinated by her but also terrified of having her killer eyes turn on him. Two shy teenagers admiring each other from afar… it could have ended as nothing, it could have just fizzled out. But thank Zuzana’s bravery (and Karou’s scuppies) it didn’t because then we wouldn’t get to read this funny, lighthearted, romantic story.
There’s really not that much to tell about the plot. The story alternates between Zuzana’s point of view and Mik’s and even when you forget whose POV chapter you’re in, it’s always very clear from the voice because Laini Taylor knows what she’s doing and Zuzana is… let’s say pretty distinct. 🙂
The roaring teenage hormones come across very realistic but both protagonists are aware, right from the start, that this may be something special. They may be desperate to be kissed (or more) but neither of them wants to mess this up because it turns out there might be real, deeper feelings involved.
What gives the book an extra special vibe are the numerous illustrations by Jim Di Bartolo, who is not only brilliant, but also happens to be Laini Taylor’s husband. So you know he probably got things right. Whether it’s diabolical puppets, Zuzana’s deadly eyes, or Mik’s violin case, there’s always something to see that makes this book more than just a “filler novella” as they exist in so many popular trilogies.
It may not have the extremely high stakes that Karou’s story has but it’s no less special. Because taking the first step to meet someone you have a crush on is momentous and brave and I just love Zuzana and Mik even more now.
MY RATING: 7/10 – Very good