I’m usually not a fan of short stories. I don’t know why but I never get to finish the anthologies that I buy. Since I wanted to give Laini Taylor’s writing a try, I decided to pick up Lips Touch: Three Times. I was also curious because I’ve heard such good things about this book from both Holly of Book Harbinger and Kristen of Fantasy Cafe and I know they have excellent taste when it comes to fantasy books.
Here’s the summary from Goodreads:
A girl who’s always been in the shadows finds herself pursued by the unbelievably attractive new boy at school, who may or may not be the death of her. Another girl grows up mute because of a curse placed on her by a vindictive spirit, and later must decide whether to utter her first words to the boy she loves and risk killing everyone who hears her if the curse is real. And a third girl discovers that the real reason for her transient life with her mother has to do with belonging — literally belonging — to another world entirely, full of dreaded creatures who can transform into animals, and whose queen keeps little girls as personal pets until they grow to childbearing age.
Lips Touch contains three short stories – Goblin Fruit, Spicy Little Curses Such as These and Hatchling – set in different worlds. The common theme in these stories is that they’re all about kisses. Each story has its own set of lovely artwork done by Jim di Bartolo. I’ve been wanting to read this for a while now so I sneaked in some reading time in the bookstore and by the time I finished reading the first two stories, I decided that I’d love to own a copy. I was planning to wait for the paperback to be released because it would be cheaper but was worried that it wouldn’t include the artwork so I went ahead and got the hardcover instead. I’m not regretting the decision because I ended up loving it. Laini Taylor’s writing is lush and lyrical, exactly what I look for in my fantasy reads and her husband’s illustrations are the perfect enhancement to these stories.
To keep this review concise, I’m not going to comment on each story but instead share what I think about the book as a whole. I’m a bit surprised at how much I enjoyed reading these stories because the writing is a bit darker and grittier than my usual favorites. The more disturbing aspects of the stories were balanced out by the positive things like love and hope so I never had a problem with them. Also, I’m usually not a fan of YA urban fantasy but these stories had a fairy tale feel to them than I don’t even know if I can classify them as such. It was easy to fall into the atmospheric writing. I’m amazed at how much the author was able to accomplish in terms of worldbuilding considering that these are short stories with limited word count and not full-length novels. I felt like they were just the right length and didn’t feel that they were rushed. My favorite out of the three is Hatchling and I certainly wouldn’t mind reading more about that world. I hear that she’s planning to come out with a book with the same setting, can’t wait to read that. In the meantime, I’m going to do my best to track down the rest of Laini Taylor’s books because Lips Touch left me hungry for more of her writing. Lips Touch is a lovely book that I highly recommend to all fantasy fans out there. It certainly deserves to get more attention.
Since I included a sample of the illustrations found inside the book, I thought it would be fitting to quote the author as well. This is a non-spoilery tidbit from Goblin Fruit:
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 foot, 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, have a drink named after her, a love song written for her, and a handsome adventurer’s small airplane, champagne-christened Kizzy, which would vanish one day in a windstorm in Arabia so that she would have to mount a rescue operation involving camels, and wear an indigo veil against the stinging sand, just like the nomads.