Published: 2013 by Hodder & Stoughton
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
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Night of Cake and Puppets is a companion to Laini Taylor’s “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” series. It’s set in between two books and is told from the perspective of one of the minor characters, and yet it retains the same magic and quirkiness that made me fall in love with Taylor’s writing in the first place.
Zuzana is an eccentric puppet-maker who has a crush on Mik, a violinist. She’s afraid to speak to him, and he’s afraid to speak to her, and it’s the kind of adorable puppy love that you want to succeed because you want fairy tales to be real and magic to exist and wishes to come true and the world to be a much more hopeful place than it really is. Of course, in this trilogy, magic does exist. That’s why we read fiction, isn’t it? Because in the world of books, there’s so much possibility. Zuzana is in the possession of five beads that will each grant a small wish, and so she uses them to create a memorable and surreal first date with Mik.
I liked the contrast between this book and the main trilogy, because in the books about Karou we see the tenacity of hope in the midst of darkness and great evil, whereas here, it’s just a story of possibility for two young people falling in love. It’s a happy story, and all of the things I can say about it don’t do justice to the Laini Taylor’s writing. So, instead, here’s a brief excerpt from the story that made me happy and doesn’t spoil any of the story:
Because what bedtime stories to tell little kids! They’re full of corpses and devils and infestations, unnatural things hatching from your breakfast eggs, and the sounds of bones splintering. I thought everyone was like this, that every family had their secret haruspex uncles, their ventriloquist Resistance fighters, their biting puppets. A normal bedtime, Deda would conclude with something like, “And Baba Yaga has been has been hunting me ever since,” and then cock his head to listen to the window. “That doesn’t sound like claws on the roof, does it, Podvina? Well, it’s probably just crows. Good night.” And then he’d kiss me and click out the light, leaving me to fall asleep to the imagined scrape of a child-eating witch scaling the roof.