Just put down Laini Taylor’s Night of Cake and Puppets and I’m reconsidering my dreams of being an author. How can her writing be so beautiful? I know, I know. We’ve all got our own different voices and styles. It’s important to read widely and read well. To be inspired by others and be challenged to improve our own writing. When I read Laini Taylor’s perfect words, I can’t imagine what her first drafts look like. There’s a wonderful smoothness to her writing, as if they’ve just poured from her mind like liquid gold. Of course, first drafts never look like the polished words in the published book (unless your Neil Gaiman) and I have to remind myself that I’m sure Laini Taylor is the same. But honestly, my self-confidence has taken a mild beating. At least I can read her beautiful words though.

I mean, her imagery and metaphors and similes and all those brilliant things writing should have are perfectly whimsical and delightfully quirky. Her humour is crooked and a little dark and just how I like it. Her character, Zuzana, describes how the only reason she’d have children would be so she could “build spires in their minds and dance shadows through like marionettes, chased by whispers and hints of the unspeakable” (12-13). Or when Mik is introduced and comments how his “Saturday night sits like a cat on a fence” (61) and proceeds to perfectly sum up a cat’s dismissive attitude.

It’s a magical love story, a bright hint of starlight shinning through the darker shadows of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bones series. Karou, who’s on her own journey that’s not for the feint of heart, is living vicariously through Zuzana as she gathers her courage and takes control of her own fairy tale. The illustrations are wonderful additions. There should be more novels written with illustrations. Why should they be only for children?

So I’ll sneak away to my little writing hovel, maybe look at my words and think how can they transform into something that’s bright and light, like a origami bird, and continue to read beautiful books. This story will inspire a writer and maybe break her a little. It’s okay though. We need books like this that strike a chord. Also, I really, really want to go back to Prague.