“Lips Touch: Three Times” by Laini Taylor

 

Title: Lips Touch: Three Times
Author: Laini Taylor
Read Date: 14 February 2012 (how appropriate!)
Goodreads Reading Progress Status Updates: Click here.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Review Preview: I was enchanted. Three times.
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Three tales of supernatural love, each pivoting on a kiss that is no mere kiss, but an action with profound consequences for the kissers’ souls:

Goblin Fruit: In Victorian times, goblin men had only to offer young girls sumptuous fruits to tempt them to sell their souls. But what does it take to tempt today’s savvy girls?

Spicy Little Curses Such As These: A demon and the ambassador to Hell tussle over the soul of a beautiful English girl in India. Matters become complicated when she falls in love and decides to test her curse.

Hatchling: Six days before Esme’s fourteenth birthday, her left eye turns from brown to blue. She little suspects what the change heralds, but her small safe life begins to unravel at once. What does the beautiful, fanged man want with her, and how is her fate connected to a mysterious race of demons?

Once upon a time, the Creator showered the Gift of Words upon the Earth and somehow, an inordinate amount gravitated toward Laini Taylor.

Lips Touch: Three Times is an impressive collection of stories which showcases Taylor’s mastery of evoking images and emotions using her words, and her husband Jim DiBartolo’s distinctive and breathtaking art.

What I loved, in general, about the three stories in this book, is how well Taylor seems to understand human nature and our deepest hopes and fears, and how well she manages to articulate all of it as if she can read our souls.

Kizzy wanted to be a woman who would dive off the prow of a sailboat into the sea, who would fall back in a tangle of sheets, laughing, and who could dance a tango, lazily stroke a leopard with her bare feet, freeze an enemy’s blood with her eyes, make promises she couldn’t possibly keep, and then shift the world to keep them. She wanted to write memoirs and autograph them at a tiny bookshop in Rome, with a line of admirers snaking down a pink-lit alley. She wanted to make love on a balcony, ruin someone, trade in esoteric knowledge, watch strangers as coolly as a cat. She wanted to be inscrutable, to have a drink named after her, a love song written for her, and a handsome adventurer’s small airplane champagne-christened Kizzy.

 
Goblin Fruit is the shortest story of the three, but it’s also the most whimsical. It reads like a fairy tale, so much so that if I were a screenwriter on Grimm, I’d probably ask permission to write an episode based on this. 😛 And Taylor’s style is so evocative, I could almost taste that kiss and that fruit.

Spicy Little Curses Such As These is my favorite of the three. If I were an animator like the awesome Ben Hibon (of The Tale of the Three Brothers fame), I’d turn this story into an animated short film. I love the exotic Indian setting, the Maleficent homage, the mythology, the classic Lost Diary plot point, and just the entire crafting of the story, really.

He had imagined himself, fancifully, to be half in love with the writer of the mysterious diary, but now, seeing her, that vague fancy was swept away by the exhilaration of actually falling in love with her, not by halves, but fully and profoundly.

 
Hatchling is the more fantastical of the three. If I were Tim Burton or maybe Henry Selick, I’d make a movie out of this one. I love how Laini also drew from world mythology like she did with Spicy Little Curses, but still managed to come up with something unusual. The world has a Labyrinth / The Dark Crystal / Mirrormask kind of vibe to it, but probably a little wilder, what with the supernatural creatures involved.

For all three stories, Taylor definitely delivered on her promise that the kisses will have profound consequences. Yup, it all started with a kiss!

I may gush and rave about this book all I want here, but I don’t believe I can adequately capture the magic and draw of Lips Touch. My advice? Buy it. Read it. Reread it. Fall under its spell three times. Every time.

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