Book: Night of Cake & Puppets by Laini Taylor, Hachette Audio, December 2013
Book Info: Fantasy, Audiobook purchase. Running time: 2 hrs, 46 mins. Performed by: Khristine Hvam, Kevin T. Collins. Also available as an e-book from Little, Brown.
Rating: 5 / 5 Stars
In this new stand-alone novella from New York Times best-selling author Laini Taylor comes the story of a romantic, funny, and fantastical first date. 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 listeners 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.
I read Daughter of Smoke & Bone over two years ago, and because I am weird and have series-phobia I still have not read the sequel Days of Blood & Starlight. But, since the last book of the trilogy is out this Spring I figured it was as good a time as any to ease back in with this stand-alone novella.
Night of Cake & Puppets is a romantic, humorous novella about series-protagonist Karou’s best friend Zuzana, and is the story of her unique first date with Mik. This novella features Laini Taylor’s signature gorgeous writing and did the trick of coaxing me back into this series.
Sometimes novellas are kind of throwaways, but this one is so gorgeous, romantic and magical that it’s a treasure in its own right. As a reader of the first book in the trilogy I was familiar with the characters and able to follow along easily, despite the time lapse. And as far as I can tell this novella doesn’t spoil book two, but readers will get more out of it by reading Daughter of Smoke & Bone first.
Since the book is Zuzana and Mik’s love story it’s a nice surprise that the book shares alternate points of view. Zuzana is smitten with Mik and hatches an intricate treasure hunt to profess her feelings. Mik is up to the task, and the treasure hunt is full of magic and whimsy. Zuzana and Mik’s budding love story had me completely charmed. It’s the perfect winter romance to tide you over until the final series installment.
Though this novella is primarily about Zuzana and Mik, the friendship of Zuzana and Karou is carried through via text messages and phone calls. Zuzana and Karou are so funny together and supportive even when they are apart.
I listened to the audiobook, performed by Khristine Hvam and Kevin T. Collins. I chose the audiobook primarily because of Hvam, and because I’m planning to continue listening to the series. Hvam is masterful in her performance and conveys Zuzana’s kooky/aggressive/vulnerable personality just right and with a ton of personality. Kevin T. Collins performs Mik’s chapters and it’s my first experience with his narration (He also performs the Beautiful Creatures books.) Collins makes Mik sound like the endearing character he is and is a worthy counterpart to Hvam’s Zuzana. The story is set in Prague and both narrators read with accents that make the setting come alive. I’m excited to continue on with the next audiobook.
This novella is a cut above the rest and is a gorgeous must-read (or listen!) for fans of DoS&B. Look for the last book in the trilogy, Dreams of Gods and Monsters, in April. (Of course I have to read Days of Blood & Starlight first!)