Night of Cake & Puppets: Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Night of Cake & Puppets: Daughter of Smoke & Bone Book Poster Image
Re-release of romantic series companion adds keen art.

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age 13+
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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Takes place in Prague, Czech Republic, and mentions neighborhoods and the iconic Charles Bridge. Also describes the local traditions on St. Nicholas Day (December 5) and a bit about the importance of puppetry as a Czech art form. A character plays Mozart on his violin.

Positive Messages

Connecting with someone has a powerful magic of its own.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Both Zuzana and Mik are artistic and unique and embrace this fact. They have parallel journeys of self-doubt that turns into self-assuredness by the end.


A couple of puppets are a bit creepy. A dead snake hanging on a doorknob. Jokey talk of dragging a soprano singer to be stuffed by a taxidermist. The decor of a cafe hangout called Poison Kitchen is gas masks, coffins, skulls, and the like.


Kissing well-described, with talk of more that's wished for. Bare breasts of a statue covered in an illustration with text that says "boobs."


"Jackass," "damn," "hell," and "bastard."


Mention of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Cigarette butts in coffee.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Night of Cake & Puppets is a companion book in the bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone series. It originally came out in 2013 and is re-released in 2017 with illustrations by author Laini Taylor's husband, Jim Di Bartolo. The two also collaborated on the National Book Award finalist Lips Touch Three Times. As in that novel, here much centers on obtaining a kiss. The kissing is described in the author's usual artful style. So is the setting of Prague. Readers will learn a bit about the art of puppetry in the Czech Republic -- some of the puppets featured here are a bit creepy. Characters hang out in a place called Poison Kitchen, which is adorned with gas masks, coffins, skulls, and the like. You don't have to read the whole Daughter of Smoke & Bone series to read Night of Cake & Puppets, but it helps readers understand more about the characters, especially Karou, the main character in Daughter of Smoke & Bone, who appears in the story only in a quick flashback, illustrations, and text messages.

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Teen, 14 years old Written byJazilynW3 September 14, 2020

Overall liking

I think is a great book for teens. Not for younger kids due to some frighting images and topics. Me as a 14-year-old girl I believe it is great so far there is... Continue reading

What's the story?

In NIGHT OF CAKE & PUPPETS, Zuzana the puppet maker has a serious crush on Mik, a violinist. She sees him nightly at the Marionette Theater in Prague but can never work up the courage to even introduce herself. Sick of feeling so lovesick, she concocts an outrageously complicated plan to reel him in. It's a scavenger hunt all over snowy Prague with puppets, hints of magic, and a bar filled with upended coffins for tables. Along the way, Zuzana worries about two things: Will Mik want to follow the trail to the end? And if he does, what will she finally say to him when he gets there?

Is it any good?

This artful and hip meet-cute story keenly illustrated by the author's husband is guaranteed to make you long for first kisses and dessert. Readers of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone series who love main character Karou's petite and spunky puppet-maker best friend, Zuzana, are treated to the tale of her blooming romance with Mik the violinist. Her elaborate plans to snare him take readers to the curious corners of Prague. The scavenger hunt will remind art-house movie lovers so much of Amelie. And in both Night of Cake & Puppets and Amelie, the female protagonists have no idea what to do once they have their crush's attention, adding to the delightful romantic tension.

Author Laini Taylor has been one of the strongest writers in young adult literature for a while now. She skillfully and quirkily -- with puppets, of course -- draws out the tension of one night's quest for love and connection in a way that leaves a long-lasting impression. No one describes the lead-up to a kiss quite like she does. With peacock prints in the snow and so much more.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the parallel perspectives in Night of Cake & Puppets. How does Zuzana see Mik? How does Mik see Zuzana? Does that make you closer to the story to see both perspectives?

  • The first edition in 2003 didn't include illustrations. How do illustrations add to this story? Would you be as interested in the story without them?

  • Will you read more books by author Laini Taylor?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy

Themes & Topics

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