Prancing in Prague || Silence Fallen Review

Initial Thoughts: 

I mean…I reread Mercy Thompson stories so often, particularly little snippets, but holy hell, this one was definitely something I would reread again DIRECTLY AFTER I just finished it. So. Damn. Good. And omg. SO MUCH ADAM AND MERCY POV.

Sigh. When can I expect the next book?


SILENCE FALLEN

by Patricia Briggs
Ace Books, March 2017
Urban fantasy, adult
Rated: 5 / 5 cookies

Attacked and abducted in her home territory, Mercy finds herself in the clutches of the most powerful vampire in the world, taken as a weapon to use against alpha werewolf Adam and the ruler of the Tri-Cities vampires. In coyote form, Mercy escapes only to find herself without money, without clothing, and alone in the heart of Europe…

Unable to contact Adam and the rest of the pack, Mercy has allies to find and enemies to fight, and she needs to figure out which is which. Ancient powers stir, and Mercy must be her agile best to avoid causing a war between vampires and werewolves, and between werewolves and werewolves. And in the heart of the ancient city of Prague, old ghosts rise…

*As this is book #10 of the Mercy Thompson series, expect spoilers.*

You know, I read the title of the book when it was first released to the public and I did think briefly: “Hah, like the Silence in Doctor Who? Is this a play of words based off that? ‘Cause that would be awesome!”

And, you know, a lot of DW references do come up in the book, and the whole Matt Smith reveal thing was just…I cannot with Briggs sometimes.

“Silence will fall!”

So normally I wouldn’t be reviewing a book that’s part of a super-long series. Normally this would have just been another mini-review with slight squee-recaps of what I absolutely enjoyed of the Mercy Thompson book. And, ya know, so far, I’ve been loving this series more and more after every installment.

So what makes Silence Fallen any different?

Prague, for one. I must have gushed about the fact that I love, love, love Prague. It was just such a quaint little city, and I was blessed to have been able to visit it for a couple days when I was on vacation a while back. (I even wrote about it in terms of visiting it through the eyes of Karou!) So when I caught wind that the next Mercy Thompson book was going to send Mercy over to Prague as the next destination, I was over the moon with excitement. And once I opened the book and saw the map of the places I traversed, I was done for. The setting was already one thing I was going to love about this book.

Dual POVs. One of the things I had extremely enjoyed from Frost Burned was Adam’s point of view. I know, I know, it’s a Mercy Thompson novel, and Mercy narrates the story in first person. However, I thought adding Adam into Frost Burned was rather brilliant, and I loved seeing his side of the story just as much as I loved seeing Mercy’s. But while Mercy largely dominated the narration in FB–and still does for the most part–the narration in Silence Fallen was a healthy dose of Mercy and Adam. Honestly, I’ve shipped them since book 1. But egads, they truly are mated, considering both of them have death wishes looming over their horizon. I also sort of giggled at the end of the book, because I swear I saw their reunion more along the lines of:

“Honey, I’m home! Guess what? I obliterated a powerful vampire. With plates. What did you do today?”

“I laid siege to a city while I was stuck naked in a cage.”

“That’s my mate! I love you.”

“I love you!”

*hugs*

Okay, so that’s rather simplified, but if they were a normal couple, they would totally be discussing their exploits over the drone of the TV while they’re sharing a plate of chocolate chip cookies. Hell, I’m pretty sure that is exactly what they did when they got back to their house. Only they’re not so normal, being a werewolf and a coyote. Um.

There was also one other thing I enjoyed about having an Adam and Mercy POV, and that’s from the diverging plot. Once the overall kidnapping portion was over with, the plot no longer stayed in Milan. Adam had his own set of troubles to deal with while Mercy ended up surviving on her own through another plot. Yes, both their POVs started to converge once more, and yes, those mother-effing vampires were largely behind most of the story, but I absolutely loved that Adam and Mercy had to find their own way without each other’s backs.

I’ve seen Mercy deal with problems without Adam in the early books, but I took for granted that she can handle herself even without the brunt of the Columbia Basin and Aspen Creek packs protecting her from the sidelines. And I do love the combination of Adam and Mercy working through a problem together (like they did in the previous book), but them being forced apart is just as good. It really does give Adam a chance to shine, and I love him even more now!

The vampire dynamics. I will admit, I have little interest in the vampires of the Mercy Thompson books, and I found fae-related stories more riveting. HOWEVER, on occasion, the vampire-centric books do have awesome stories; Bone Crossed and Silence Fallen are prime examples. (I also did love Blood Bound.) I did love reading about Marsilia’s old haunting grounds, and the Lord of Night finally made his appearance, which is fabulous. Not so very fabulous was Bonarata’s crazy obsession with female werewolves. I would have done what Honey did, too, had I been there in person to see what the Lord of Night did.

And, um, can I have a spinoff of Bran stories, too? I just…there’s always so much the werewolves and vampires and every other supernatural creature say about Bran, and I just want more stories of him, because he’s so effing badass! I mean, I could also ask for Elizaveta spinoff stories, but I’m pretty sure Briggs is already working on a witch-wolf spinoff in the same universe, so I’m fine with that.

5 out of 5 cookies! I could seriously reread this again now, just to see how I completely missed that reveal at the very end. Kudos, Briggs, for another delightful book in the Mercy Thompson universe.

Silence Fallen counts as #8 of my Flights of Fantasy Challenge!


Have you read this book? What did you think?

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Praha: Living in Daughter of Smoke and Bone

daughterofsmokeI will say right now that my decision to spend a few days in Prague last July was largely brought on by the beautiful writings of one author. I’m talking about Laini Taylor, and by her writing, I’m talking about Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I’d previously reviewed the book last year, and I was so smitten by the setting (which encompassed a wide array of places, actually) that I found myself imagining that I was sitting near where Karou had been sitting in her Poison Kitchen, or walking across Charles Bridge just trying to get to class. It’s one thing to imagine and live vicariously through your favorite fictional characters, quite another to actually have the opportunity to live it, even for a short time.

And oh boy, when Opportunity came knocking, I opened the door so wide he had no choice but to step into my threshold to enjoy a pot of tea and freshly-baked kolaches, while I went ahead and packed my bags.

Admittedly, I was with a tour group, so it was much harder to get away and linger in Prague by my lonesome. I did have a full day to myself, which I took advantage of by traipsing the possible places Karou could have gone.

They paid good money for Kaz’s “ghost tours,” which consisted of being herded through the tangled lanes of Prague in the dark, pausing at sites of supposed murders so “ghosts” could leap out of doorways and make them shriek. – Pg. 3

There weren’t any ghosts jumping out of doorways and alleys, but traipsing the old Jewish Quarter at night certainly had no end in creepiness. The guide for my “ghost tour” was dressed up like Death, though, and he had a great deal of stories about the area. A particular favorite was one about a sleeping golem hidden upon the rooftops of the Jewish Quarter. The legend goes on to say that the golem will rise up again in Prague’s hour of need to protect the city. I love this concept, really I do.

The streets of Prague were a fantasia scarcely touched by the twenty-first century–or the twentieth or nineteenth, for that matter. It was a city of alchemists and dreamers, its medieval cobbles once trod by golems, mystics, invading armies…and Gothic steeples stood ready to impale fallen angels. – Pg. 24

praha4

There’s imagery, and then there’s imagery. The Prague that Taylor described was during the winter-time, so I imagine it’s much less crowded, since people are inside trying to keep warm or, you know, there are definitely less tourists at this time period to begin with. Still, snow or no snow, the city is beautiful.

Down by the Devil’s Stream, Poison Kitchen was a place rarely stumbled upon by chance; you had to know it was there, and duck under an unmarked stone arch into a walled graveyard, beyond which glowed the lamp-lit windowpanes of the cafe…

“…but the monks’ quarters remain, and have been converted to the strangest cafe you’ll find anywhere, crowded with classical statues all sporting the owner’s collection of WWI gas masks.” – Pg. 25

Hate to burst your bubble, but Poison Kitchen doesn’t exist. Yeah, this was a mild disappointment when I looked it up. However, I kind of did run into a baroque cafe facing the Charles Bridge. You wouldn’t know there was a cafe inside since the signs mostly point to the museum right next to it. To get here, I had to climb down a set of stairs, go past the fascinating open museum, and then head sharply right into a lovely cafe. The place could probably fit twenty or so people at the most. It was cozy and small and–fortunately for me–rather empty when I sat down to order my coffee and cake.

Okay, so there is no gas mask collection in the baroque cafe, but I’d gone to a nuclear bunker tour the day before and found the picture fitting to add in here, lol.

Fairy-tale city. From the air, red rooftops hug a kink in a dark river, and by night the forested hills appear as spans of black nothing against the dazzle of the lit castle, the spiking Gothic towers, the domes great and small. – Pg. 160

praha8

Regrettably I do not have any night pictures of Prague’s skyline. I also don’t have an aerial shot of Prague, so this was the closest I could get to as far as Akiva’s view of Prague is concerned. Squint hard enough and maybe you’ll see the fiery-eyed angel perched on top of one of the towers. Sigh, if only, right?

Soon enough she came to the Charles Bridge.

Icon of Prague, the medieval bridge crossed the Vltava between Old Town and the Little Quarter. Gothic bridge towers rose on both sides, and the whole span — pedestrian-only — was lined by monumental statues of saints…Vendors and performers were arriving with handcarts to stake out the most coveted real estate in the city, and in the very middle, before the photo-perfect backdrop of Prague Castle on the hill, was the giant puppeteer. – Pg. 174

Besides Poison Kitchen, I think the Charles Bridge was one of the most memorable scenes in Daughter of Smoke and Bone. A lot happens here in Karou’s story, including Zuzana’s puppet show and the fantastic aerial showdown between Karou and Akiva (OMG can I say how much I ADORED that scene, btw?!). There were no giant puppeteers or marionettes being displayed at the center of the bridge when I was there, but there was a puppeteer dancing his marionette, to the delight of a small crowd and their children. (No, I didn’t take a picture of this, ’cause I was too busy recording it on video, lol!).

Needless to say that I enjoyed myself stepping into a character’s shoes. I didn’t meet an angel, I didn’t find the portal to Brimstone’s shop, and I certainly don’t have a head of bright blue hair, but I walked Karou’s shoes as best I could, and that in itself was magical.

Now, if I was to pick another place from Karou’s travelogue, I’d head to Morocco next. The scene happening in Marrakesh was my second favorite, after all!

25 Reads: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

I want to go to Prague. I want to meet a fiery-eyed angel there and be raised by strangely loving but shady teeth-collecting demons. I want to be friends with a marionette maker’s daughter and roam the fairy-tale streets whilst vampires and ghouls try to pull a scare on back alleys and hidden corners. I want wishes, even small ones that could change my hair a bright blue (except mine would probably be a mixture of gold and purple, just ’cause). I want the feel of astral butterflies fluttering excitedly in my stomach (though that can’t be too comfortable on a regular basis). I want wings so I can fly. Particularly wings that emit a self-contained fire.

God, if Daughter of Smoke and Bone could be any more poetic, I probably would have cried over how beautifully written it was.


DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE

by Laini Taylor
Little, Brown Books, September 2011
YA paranormal fantasy

smokeandboneGoodreads: Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actuallygrows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

A Bucketful of Squees

Laini Taylor writes such pretty things.  This isn’t the first time I’ve been introduced to her writing, so I had expected writing that took me back to what I had seen in Lips Touch: Three Times and somewhat in Blackbringer. What I got was a love child between urban fantasy and faerie, with the short story “Spicy Little Curses” as the doting world-traveling aunt. For me, that made for some enjoyable writing, and even holding a physical copy of the book itself was much more preferable, since the layout usually tends to be just as aesthetically pleasing as the text (Lips Touch still remains my favorite of the hardcovers I own).

smokeandbone1The star-crossed lovers trope gets a new set of wings. Admittedly, I could do without having to read another Romeo and Juliet complex. Warring families, lovers belonging on opposite sides, blah blah blah. Karou and Akiva are no different, true. Well, save for the fact that Akiva belongs to a race of elitist warrior angels and Karou’s an art student whose hair grows blue at the roots and who works for the chimaera abominations that are supposedly no better than slaves. But, you know, same old story, right? Maybe. Kinda not really.

I guess there’s the magic system and the mythologies to blame for that. There’s also the fact that “good” and “evil” aren’t exactly classified as such, and even the monsters can be construed as more beautiful than the regal seraphim in Astrae. I also love that each side has a story about origins, and that this is shown in the book.

And those characters, yo. Zuzana was easily my favorite character, and often she made me laugh out loud on the train as I read (which is slightly embarrassing, but oh well). I loved Karou’s personality, and even as she fell into insta-love (can it be classified as insta-love when technically it’s been seventeen or so years?), she didn’t completely forget who she was (sorry, Akiva!). I loved Brimstone and the chimaera and really hope the ending was ambiguous enough to leave a bit of Hope at the door–I mean, that’s the whole point, right? Hope is more powerful than wishes after all.

That heartbreaking ending. I would have considered the Madrigal addition as the slowest point of the book, but I actually loved that the story was shown that way, and not through explanatory dialogue. That said, I did realize, with increasing anxiety, that the book was ending and a conclusion was not happening any time soon. Yeah, I totally felt like I was broken up with twice in that second to last chapter. But I won’t elaborate…

So yes, easily a 5 out of 5 Goodreads stars.


A Little Taste of Prague

The beginning chapters of the book opened up to a lot of description about the places Karou frequented in the mortal realm. Which is a good thing, because I loved envisioning Taylor’s Prague, and loved reading about the quaint little Poison Kitchen cafe and the food Karou and Zuzana tended to get there. At some point, there was a scene in the book where Karou offers to get breakfast, and Zuzana says something similar to: “If it doesn’t have chocolate, it’s not breakfast.” (I can’t remember exactly, so the wording might be off). Karou walks back to the bakery and buys kolaches.

So immediately, I had a craving to make myself some of these baked morsels.

kolaches

Unsurprisingly, there was a kolache recipe out there waiting for me to make. And so I took some time to bake some!

Granted, “some time” kind of encompassed a day and a half, considering I initially thought I’d killed my yeast (which was remedied by me putting the dough inside my oven over a tray of boiling water). There was a lot of waiting for the dough to rise–at least three times. But other than that, since I skipped out on making the fillings from scratch, once the bread was actually ready, it took a mere 20 or so minutes to flatten it, fill it, and bake it.

kolaches1

Note: Since Thanksgiving is around the corner, I found a lot of fruit pie fillings at the supermarket for sale, so I went and got a raspberry filling as well as an apricot one. I didn’t use the apricot filling, though, since I wanted to put chocolate in at least half of the kolaches. As Zuzana said, no chocolate, not breakfast!

Verdict: Personally, I loved the baked Nutella texture more than when I put it on top after the bread baked. My sister is the opposite, and liked the Nutella nice and creamy. My mother decided the raspberry filling was nice, but not as nice as speculoos spread, and my father liked just the bread itself without any of the sweet toppings. Honestly. I think as long as the bread is baked, you can put whatever toppings you want on top and it’ll come out brilliantly.