Night of Cake & Puppets by Laini Taylor
Book 2.5 of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone series
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
New York Times bestselling author Laini 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. Originally published as an ebook, this new print edition will include breathtaking black and white illustrations, plus bonus content in a gorgeous package perfect for new and current fans of the series.
What I Liked:
This novella originally published in November 2013 as a ebook exclusive, somewhat of a bridge between books two and three of this series. It is the story of the first date of Mik and Zuzana, and it is the cutest thing. I mildly regret not reading the novella four years ago, but I loved having the chance to read it now. I think it is a fantastic move by the publisher to publish the novella in hardcover format, especially with the added bonus of many gorgeous illustrations by Jim Di Bartolo (Laini Taylor's husband!).
The novella takes place in one night, which is pretty neat considering it is nearly 200 pages in length. Zuzana wants to go on a date with Mik, and she isn't going to wait around for him to notice her. What she doesn't know is that he already noticed her, but he himself wasn't sure if she was interested in him. Isn't that cute?
Zuzana is a fiery, fierce girl who goes after what she wants - in this case, it's Mik. She has had a crush on him and wants him to notice her, and it's going to happen. She may have been nervous about coming face-to-face with him, but her plan for getting him to do so is clever and adorable. Did I mention that she is a marionette, a puppeteer? It's very cool. Her puppets are wild.
Mik is quiet and maybe a bit shy, prone to slight blushing, according to Zuzana. He is a musician: a very talented violinist. When he plays for Zuzana, my heart wanted to burst. So much cute!
But I get ahead of myself. Zuzana leaves a note for Mik - well, it's more of a treasure map. He follows the clues in order to find her. Zuzana uses scuppies (little bits of magic) to make the clues and the scenery a tiny bit magical, which is enchanting and fascinating. By the time the pair meet face-to-face, they are only a little nervous, but probably halfway in love with each other.
Even though it's a story of only one night, the romance is so cute and you couldn't not ship these two. What a perfect first date! So many things could have gone wrong but several crises were averted. I loved how magical and beautiful the scenes were, how rich and lush the storytelling was. The romance was beautifully set up, as were the characters, the setting, the backdrop of the story being a break-off of the main story (involving Karou and Akiva).
There are a few Karou cameos! Over text message though - Karou is busy traipsing all over the world. Karou is a sweet, supportive friend, and an anchor for Zuzana.
This novella was a masterpiece! The story itself, yes, but also the illustrations. The galley copy doesn't have all of the illustrations, but it has many, and they are so lovely. The artist is extremely talented, and his work really adds to the story. Turning this novella into a hardcover book of words and illustrations was a fantastic idea!
What I Did Not Like:
Nothing specific that I didn't like! I can't wait to see the final version with all of the illustrations - but that's my problem for reading the early ARC. I'm excited!
Would I Recommend It:
If you read the Daughter of Smoke & Bone series but not this novella, you should read this! It'll be a lovely addition to the collection (the hardcover, I mean), and the story is so sweet and uplifting, a change compared to the other books. I don't usually read novellas because they generally don't add too much to the main story, but I think this novella was perfect. Think of it more as a companion novel set in Zuzana and Mik's alternating POVs! With it being ~200 pages, it very well could be!
4.5 stars. I highly recommend this novella, and even more so in hardcover format. At the very least, check it out from the library or take a peek at a bookstore. I will definitely be doing that! I am sure the hardcover will be absolutely stunning. Props to Little, Brown for contracting this project, and to Laini and Jim for making it real!