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Friday, April 5, 2013

LIPS TOUCH: THREE TIMES by Laini Taylor [Review]

Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor; illustrated by Jim Di Bartolo
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Fantasy/Novella collection/Fairytale-esque, 266 pages
Published October 1st 2009 by Arthur A. Levine Books
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 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.

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?

I think it's already been decided that I'm a Laini Taylor fangirl. I can't help but fall for her gorgeously lush writing. But that said, there's always a slight worry with me when I pick up something different by an author - what works in longform may not work in short; her prose is gorgeous, but how well would it adapt to novella style?
Clearly I needn't have worried. Taylor's writing is as gorgeous as ever, and she packs a lot of punch into stories that are short and sweet - perfectly-sized to devour in one sitting.

Each of the stories has a distinct feel, which is especially nice in a set centering around the same thing (so it doesn't feel like three successive "I just read that"s), but they all flow into one another and work together as a whole. Through the three stories, Taylor gives different sides of the same coin, using the central theme of the power of a kiss to explore very different worlds and characters, and their reasons for - and reactions to - a kiss. My favorite would of the three would probably change on any given day, purely based on mood, because they are all fantastic and memorable. But I think there's something bright and vibrant - and deeply melancholic - about Goblin Fruit that instantly appeals to me. Plus: goblins. (And I've already said how I feel about them.)

Her prose, as always, is evocative and gorgeous, creating elaborate, memorable worlds out of thin air. It is enhanced by the accompanying artwork, which is fricking fantastic. Each story is preceded by a series of illustrations that aren't simply scenes from the story, but rather scenes in addition to the story. Sort of artistic prologues to each of the three novellas; Jim Di Bartolo didn't just illustrate the story, he expanded it. The color palette is great, the whole thing feels very unified and cohesive, and the art, rather than being distracting or tacked-on, really adds a layer. It's an extra little something to pore over and savor, along with the gorgeous writing.

So far, Laini is 3 for 3...
(So the marriage proposal stands.)

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  1. Ha ha "The marriage proposal still stands." Good to know your love still stands. I agree about worrying about picking up a different kind of book by a favorite author. So glad to know her work still stands strong.

  2. I'm a huge fan of Laini Taylor's as well. Even her blog posts are fantastic and give me something to think about. Her pictures are gorgeous. I just can't imagine what else will come from that incredible imagination of hers. (I think Clementine might give her a run for her money one day.) I don't have this book. I did read her story in Foretold and it was my favorite by far. I'll be sure to pick up a copy of this one.


  3. Okay, so I started reading this, and I couldn't get into it after the first few chapters...

    I feel bad, though, since I do love her other books. I think I might have to give this one a second chance.

  4. Did you try any of the other stories, Cialina? (Though how can you not like Goblin Fruit?!)

  5. I have such a huge book crush on everything Laini Taylor writes that every single time I see a rave review for one of her books, I do a little happy dance behind my computer. I couldn't agree more with this review. If only all YA authors could have even a half of Laini Taylor's writing talent and imagination.



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