Days of Blood and Starlight is (surprisingly) a heavy book. And I don’t mean physically. I mean vandalism of bodies, rebellion, sadistic overlords, full out war.
Which is why I love Mik and Zuzana.
I was really confused but happy when they were the opening scene for the novel, since Daughter of Smoke and Bone seemed to cut them off from the story entirely. But I’m really glad they stuck around and have such a big role.
I don’t think I’ve read two more resilient mundane characters in modern fantasy. Only these two would wander into the Moroccan desert to find a castle full of chimaera. Only these two would stay in said castle. Only these two would help create more of the chimaera inhabiting the castle. Only these two would be able to break the language barrier with said chimaera using charades and a violin.
And they do all this for the sake of their friend, Karou.
Zuzana and Mik are relatively sheltered. They’ve only known Prague. They’re artists. Zuzana dreams wildly, and Mik will follow her anywhere, but they don’t really know much about anything beyond their neighbourhood. There’s a stark contrast between the war ground of Eretz and the brutality of the chimaera kasbah, and urban Prague. It’s so ridiculously ordinary in comparison.
And Taylor handles these two characters so…logically. Zuzana doesn’t believe Karou until she sees Kishmish die before her eyes. Zuzana and Mik are too beat up by the elements to properly freak out about the kasbah, and after they learn everything, their first reaction is, “So what kind are you, Karou?”
What’s even better is that Mik and Zuzana bring out the humanity in the chimaera. They entrance them with their puppets and music. They laugh with them and the chimaera even grace Zuzana with a nickname (Neek-Neek). They even teach them chimaera language and an assassin acts like a chicken to confirm they are eating poultry instead of rats.
Yup. A skilled assassin does the chicken dance for these two. Freaking. Brilliant.
Plus, these two are just too darn adorable. They are the definition of puppy love. Their conversations are so easy. The whole dialogue about them theoretically getting married? Can I just say I want to see all three heroic deeds be carried out? Followed by a violin proposal? Please?
Taylor has written a little novella based on Mik and Zuzana, entitled Night of Cake and Puppets, and I am definitely going to read it because I love them.