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 readers 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. -Plot summary borrowed from Goodreads
I haven't been completely won over by ebooks. Don't get me wrong, I'm far from a hater. Plenty of friends have told me they read more since getting an ereader, and that is fantastic. I love that people can access hundreds of thousands of books from nearly anywhere in the world, instantly. Hell, I used my Nook a lot when traveling this year, especially while waiting in lines at NYCC. Still, I haven't made the switch to electronic books and never will. BUT!
There's something really, really cool happening because of ebooks. Authors are releasing short stories, novellas, and assorted material that, for whatever reason, isn't to be found in their printed books. This story, for example, happens during the events of Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It doesn't have any business in that novel though, as it's from the perspective of a character other than the protagonist, has a very different tone, and would detract from the narrative flow of DoSaB. Instead of trying to shoehorn it in, or never write it in the first place, Taylor has provided this magical story in a completely independent format. Yay!
I'm really impressed that this story manages to be sweet and magical and romantic without ever seeming trite or saccharine. Zuzana, Karou's "rabid fairy" friend is far too cool for such twee, Hallmark nonsense. Instead, we're treated to more trips down the crooked streets of Prague, along its twisty rivers and between medieval buildings. We get to revisit the Poison Kitchen, with its gas masks, coffins, and sugar bowls labelled "Arsenic." Best of all, we get some romantic tropes turned on their heads and a peek inside Zuzana's slightly mad, puppet-infested brain while she sets out to win the heart of "Violin Boy."
It's a joy to read, especially at this time of year and while waiting (im)patiently for the third book in Taylor's phenomenal series. If you loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone, go ahead and spend the $3 to buy this novella. You won't regret it.