Renee Reviews: Laini Taylor’s - "Lips Touch: Three Times"

Everyone dreams of getting the kiss of a lifetime – but what if that kiss carried some unexpected consequences for the soul? 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: A demon and the ambassador to He…moreThree tales of supernatural love speak about the deliciousness of wanting and waiting for that moment when lips touch.

Having come away with mixed feelings following Laini Taylor’s debut YA novel The Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I entered into this anthology with slight trepidation, despite glowing reviews, gorgeous illustrations and the presence of a fairy tale-style theme. However, I was very pleasantly surprised, and have come away with a greater appreciation of Taylor’s writing style and her unique handling of mythology.

All three short stories were compelling and beautifully crafted in their own right. The first and shortest tale, The Goblin Fruit, is of course based around Christina Rossetti’s famous poem The Goblin Market, and is a simple tale of temptation and desire. Despite being raised on family warnings against the danger of faerie folk, teenage loner Kizzy risks everything to chance a kiss with the new, handsome boy at school, who is suddenly paying her a great deal of attention.  This story captures effectively, within less than 40 pages, the distinct feeling of longing that dominates an isolated and awkward adolescence, and it’s notably dark ending is to be applauded.

In Spicey Little Curses Such as These, Taylor moves her focus from British to Indian folklore, incorporating the Hindu concept of heaven and hell into a tale of a beautiful young woman who grows up mute due to a curse forced upon her by a vindictive spirit. This was by far my favourite of the three tales, due in large part to the exotic Indian setting, the incorporation of diary entries, and the quite sweet and plaintive romance that featured.

The final and longest selection in the anthology is Hatchling, an amalgamation of the fae concept of a changeling child, and elements of the Zoroastrian faith. Esme discovers, just before her fourteenth birthday, that her mother may have been hiding vital secrets from her, and that her fate and past may somehow be linked to a mysterious race of fanged demons. This tale was in many ways the most graphic and mature of the trio, but Taylor remains suggestive as opposed to provocative, and the content makes for a much more poignant emotional journey for all of the characters.

What I enjoyed most about this collection, aside from Taylor’s often lyrical and poetic style, was the inclusion of moral grey areas for many of the characters. Rather than just sticking with the traditional notion of good vs. evil, as so many fairy tales do, presented here are people whose motives are not always clear-cut and whose loyalties can shift. This made for a much more credible portrayal of human nature, while still retaining the magical essence of a classic piece of folklore or mythology.

Also, it can’t be denied that the accompanying illustrations for each narrative, as crafted by Taylor’s husband, Jim Di Bartolo, are absolutely stunning, and compliment the tales brilliantly. These could potentially make amazing films!!

Lips Touch: Three Times – Laini Taylor

Scholastic Inc.

ISBN – 0545055857

266 pages

Released October 1st 2009

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