Night of Cake & Puppets // A fun & magical YA novella


Hello everyone,

It’s been a while since I last posted a mini-review! It’s also been a while since I’ve read a book from the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series! I thought it might be meant to be that the two events coincide 😉

By the way, I was in a baby reading rut a while back in July, triggered by Bossypants (a book I thought I would love but not really) and also general busyness. Night of Cake & Puppets is what broke me out of this reading funk! Thank you Beth for recommending this book to me!

34733250Petite 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

  • A fun, lighthearted and effortless read. Lots of humor that will make you smile and laugh. In a reading rut? This might be just the book for you.
  • Zuzana and Mik each have a unique voice. Zuzana has a one of a kind personality that is quirky and hilarious. Mik might seem normal on the outside but he is a lovable weirdo too and the two are perfect for each other.
  • The art! Yes, this book is illustrated! (Which makes so much sense because Zuzana and Karou are artists!)
  • The setting. Laini Taylor’s beautiful descriptions of Prague makes me want to travel there. Like, right now.

What I Didn’t Like (as much)

  • Very elaborate writing. I am on the fence about this point because for the most part, I like Laini Taylor’s writing. It is so vivid and descriptive and you can visualize a place or a persons thoughts exactly as it is described. On the other hand, at times I feel it is too over the top.
  • A bit predictable. No real surprises but I still enjoyed the ride.
  • A tiny spoilery detail: (highlight to reveal) Just a touch of instalove. Even though Zuzana and Mik don’t instantly get together, it is a case of love at first sight. You guys know how I feel about instalove…

The Bottom Line: 3.5/5 stars

Night of Cake & Puppets is a fun and light-hearted read that will likely make you smile, laugh, and go “awwww…”



Do you get into reading slumps once in a while? What causes reading slumps for you? What helps you get out of reading slumps?

30 Replies to “Night of Cake & Puppets // A fun & magical YA novella”

  1. I’m very glad this book pulled you out of your slump Sophie, and that you enjoyed it too! When it comes to world building I don’t think there’s any author who can match Laini Taylor, every time I pick up this book or Daughter of Smoke and Bone I want to go to Prague all over again! 🙂 Both Zuzana and Mik are incredible characters, and I loved getting more of their story though it’s a shame the insta-love aspect put a little bit of a damper on this one for you. 🙂
    When I’m in a slump it’s books like these; cute and fluffy romances with a hint of magic, that never fail to pull me out again.
    Great review. 🙂 ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely! The world building is amazing. I love that the world has myths, culture and a language of its own. I think I am starting to appreciate Laini Taylor’s vivid writing style more now 🙂
      Zuzana and Mik are some of my favourite characters to read about, both in this book and in the main series. DoSaB can get pretty serious so I like how they add a bit of comic relief 🙂
      By the way I am 99.99% done the Dream of Gods and Monsters! I love how the ending is playing out so far 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah when it comes to world building Laini Taylor pretty much does build a whole world! 😀
        Exactly, but without being the ridiculous comic relief, they kind of add some levity which in the case of everything else going on in the series is much needed.
        Ohh yay, not long to go then (I kind of imagine you’ve finished now maybe?) What do you think? Have you got to the bit with Ziri (you’ll know what bit I mean). 😀

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      2. Absolutely 🙂
        Yes I am done now! I enjoyed it, especially the second half which had me hooked until the very end 🙂 Yes!!! I got to that part with Ziri! I was so sad for a moment there but glad about how it ended! 🙂

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  2. Lovely review, Sophie! ❤ I'm glad you overall enjoyed that one, but I get you about the writing, sometimes this happens to me too whenever I read a book with beautiful, vivid and descriptive writing, I like it, but I also get a bit lost with it sometimes :/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha yeah, I do feel a bit lost with Laini Taylor’s writing. Sometimes I don’t catch on to what she is trying to say until much later on lol. On the other hand I do love her choice of words and the vividness of her writing overall!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha yes. There are aspects that I like about Laini Taylor’s writing, though at times I am just thinking “get on with it already!!” when descriptions take too long lol 🙂


  3. Awww this makes me want to reread the first book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy now!! Because I read the first book when I was quite young, I don’t think I picked up on the “flowery” writing style that most people seem to associate with Laini Taylor. I would love to go back to Taylor’s books and see for myself what I think of her storytelling. Thank you for bringing back Laini Taylor’s books into my line of sight! (And great mini review! 😋)

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  4. You know I’ve been in a reading slump when it comes to straight romances (pretty much lost interest in them, unfortunately). But from the way you described this story, I might be interested in checking this out! It sounds intriguing!

    Well, I don’t think I’ve ever been in a general reading slump before. Even during the busiest of times, I would make time to read at least a tiny bit; not necessarily every day, but as often as possible. Once, I tried not reading for a while, to catch up on schoolwork; but even abstaining from books for several weeks made me feel physically sick. When I picked up a book again, I felt like someone who was about to thirst to death in a desert, who suddenly gets a glass of water!!

    There are times when I get tired of a favorite genre, but I would just have to spend time in other genres before I return to books in this genre.

    For my straight romance funk, I suppose the only way to get out of it is to read cishet romances again. (If one or both characters are transgender, I’m more inclined to read the story, but I still enjoy gay romances more.) Yet, I find I have another problem, where often, I see so much misogyny directed at the heroine in the cishet romance, that I feel super repulsed and put down the book. One reason why I dig gay romances, is because both partners are the same gender, so it feels like there is more equality between the two. I feel kind of bad, like I’m slamming cis straight romances, but these are my current feelings towards them! Hopefully these feelings will change.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s good that you haven’t been in a true reading slump before. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone 🙂 And you do have a good point in that sometimes all it takes is to switch to a different book or to a different genre. In this case I think I just had to read a book that wasn’t Bossypants haha 🙂
      I get what you mean about picking up a book after not reading for a while. It is a great feeling and I’ve read entire books in one sitting because of it!
      I agree that some cis straight romances perpetuate some of the stereotypes about men and women, but I feel like the newer books are a bit better and have empowering female protagonists 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah I still feel guilty about sort of dissing cishet romances just then, hehe. XD I just felt very discouraged lately when I tried to read a recently published straight romance. There was some… sexual objectification of women by the hero, which made me highly uncomfortable, such that I returned the book without even finishing the first chapter! But maybe I’m reading through a biased lens. I’m much less bothered if heroes of the same gender initially see each other as sexual conquests, though it would still be problematic.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. No worries. I think if you feel that a certain book is offensive, I’m sure you’re not the only one. I can see what you mean about objectification of women in some books of this genre.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. True, true. A cishet male friend of mine was writing a fantasy and action-adventure story, and I beta-read for him. There was a budding romance between a girl and a guy, but I felt comfortable with this story, partly because the girl is a very strong superhero and the guy is just a human mortal (lol). And because they’re actually a cute and intriguing duo, not misogynistic.

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      4. I love stories with strong female leads and unconventional gender roles (though becoming less unconventional these days I think?!) which are always refreshing to read 🙂

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  5. Yeah, I think they are becoming less conventional these days! In fact, a female writer friend of mine, thinks that people falsely believe fictional girls have to be physically strong in order to be perceived as “strong”…

    Actually, what does “strong” even mean? Perhaps more importantly, what does “weak” mean? How can one be a “weak” female character? (Or a weak character of any other gender.) I am quite tempted to deliberately write a weak female character, just to see how that’s like, lol.

    Well, I do have a female character who I think would disappoint feminists. She’s physically weak, has poor fighting skills (it’s in the Chinese martial arts world), has self-confidence problems, relies on her friends and her male love interest both physically and emotionally. On the plus side, she’s sweet and soft, has a photographic memory, and is a champion at Chinese chess. The hero loves and cherishes her very much (they’re currently best friends).

    When I described this character to a nonbinary friend, he thinks she is a strong female character. This is interesting because I was under the impression that she would be seen as weak, due to her low self-confidence and heavy reliance on the hero and others. (She also lives in a society–ancient China– where there is less shame towards women for relying on their male counterparts, however. If she were born in our society, she might be more independent from the hero so that others don’t look down on her.)

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    1. That’s an interesting point that you make about the word “strong”. You’re right that it is not all about physical strength! Females are naturally born less strong than males (though there is a lot of variation.) In my case I work out almost every day while my fiance does not exercise at all, and he is still stronger than me!
      Now that you mention it, I’m not sure how to define a “strong” character. You are right that your character, who is physically weak and has low self-confidence, might be seen as a weak character. However her intelligence, memory, and personality make up for it, and it sounds like these are qualities that would be helpful for her group. Even though she does not fit the conventional description of a strong character, she sounds pretty cool. Maybe having intelligence, a photographic memory and a good personality count as strengths too 🙂
      When we talk about strong people, I think of people who are passionate, willful and bounces back from setbacks and continue striving for their goal. I don’t think a character necessarily needs to be physically strong or very confident to be that.

      I think you are right that in China it is more acceptable for women to be reliant on their male counterparts (maybe even in modern times?)


      1. But today I’ll be making Martha Stewart’s One Bowl Cupcakes recipe and attempting a chocolate mold for Hulk fists and chocolate drawn dragonflies for tomorrow’s ohana August babies celebration.

        Liked by 1 person

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