I think it was at one of my book club meets that someone mentioned Laini Taylor and her superbly crafted stories. Intrigued I looked her up on Goodreads, and found a collection of short stories “Lips Touch Three Times”. Since these would let me delve into her writing style with ease, I immediately picked it up. I have re-read it 18 times and ill be picking it up several more times. Yes her writing is truly bewitching!
Title: Lips touch three times
Author: Laini Taylor
Genre: Fantasy fiction
Laini Taylor is an American writer who specialises in YA and fantasy fiction genre. She aspired to write as a child but was 35 when her first novel Dreamdark:Blackbringer was published. However she is best known for her Daughter of Smoke & Bone series. She has been notable awarded the Cybils Award 2009 and is also the finalist for the National Book Award 2009.
“Kissing can ruin lives. Lips touch sometimes teeth clash. New hunger is born with a throb and caution falls away.” ― Laini Taylor,
Lips touch three times is an almost lyrical set of three tales spun around the all important kiss but that which leads to dark consequences. Each story draws the reader into the dream of that first kiss which is so magical yet seems unattainable and impossible. These are supernatural stories therefore the innocent Kiss is actually something which will ensure destruction of another kind.
The first tale is titled Goblin Fruit in which our heroine Kizzy yearns for a kiss. Her dead grandmother had often cautioned her of tales of goblins who masquerade as handsome men to steal away pretty girls by luring them with kisses. The kiss was deadly as it enabled them to take the girl’s soul with them.
“The goblins want girls who dream so hard about being pretty their yearning leaves a palpable trail, a scent goblins can follow like sharks on a soft bloom of blood. ― Laini Taylor,
16-year-old Kizzy paid no heed to these tales and thought of nothing else but to be kissed. Ah but the goblins have their eyes set on her and soon enough a very handsome boy enters her school. His looks have the girls swooning but he has eyes only for Kizzy. Soon enough the friendship blossoms and he asks her for a picnic date but the setting is a cemetery. Did our heroine pay heed? Oh no – not at all! So focused was she on getting that first kiss.
She enters the cemetery where the wind seems intent to whisper caution into her ears; make that her deaf ears! The branches deign to stop her but she pushes her way through to find her handsome suitor waiting for her. He plies her with delicious selection of chocolates, cheese and fruits.
Just as she is about to bite into a juicy peach, her intuition warns her that he is a goblin in guise of a boy. Who cares, thinks Kizzy as she is ready to trade her soul, so long as she gets her first kiss.
“It was Kizzy’s first kiss and maybe it was her last and it was delicious.”
― Laini Taylor,
Spicy Little Curses Such As These is the tale about Estella who is an elderly Englishwoman residing in India. She has a job as an Ambassador to Hell. Our story begins with her negotiating with the Demon Vasudev about how many children can be saved in a natural calamity about to take place. She wants to save them all and agrees to deliver a curse to a new-born baby girl as a bargain with the demon. The curse is that when the baby girl Anamique will speak, her voice though very beautiful, will kill whoever hears it. Estella adds an injunction of her that she wont speak till she turns 17.
“This is the story of the curse and the kiss, the demon and the girl. It’s a love story with dancing and death in it, and singing and souls and shadows reeled out on kite strings.”
― Laini Taylor,
Vasudev is furious when no one dies as Anamique grows up. Estella is happy that she saved some more souls from the demon. When she turns 17, the young girl falls in love and decides to finally find her voice to agree to her suitor’s marriage proposal. Aghast, Estella tries to stop her but is too late. As Anamique opens her mouth to say yes, her lover stoops down to kiss her.
What happens next? Does the devil get all the souls he wants? Or was Estella clever enough again to save them? Was this kiss a good one or did it have disastrous consequences too?
Third tale is titled Hatchling which talks about a young 14-year-old girl, Esme who wakes up to discover one of her eyes has turned blue. This freaks out her mother who immediately makes plans to flee with her. Unsure of such a strong reaction, she questions her mother Mab who tells her the Druj (demons) are after her. Mab had escaped from them while Esme was in her tummy and now they have found her.
While being chased by an army of Druj, they are saved by another demon Mihai who has his own agenda to fulfil. He was the one who had helped Mab escape years ago and now tells her to go find Yazad. Mihai takes Esme to an enchanted kingdom to wait near the lifeless body of the Druj queen who was his lover many eons ago.
“And Esme remembered in a rush–the wolfsong, the haunting, lyrical spirals of it in the dawn quiet and the feeling of euphoria that had attended it. Even in recollection the howling uplifted her like the crescendo at the end of a symphony and made her heartbeat quicken.”
― Laini Taylor,
Meanwhile Yazad tells Mab that he too had a blue eye incident but it happened as he was keeping a demon safe in his body. The same has happened to Esme and she needs to let her go.
So it transpires that the Queen’s soul is inside Esme and is needed to rejuvenate the dead queen, but when she is brought to life; she lets all hell lose. Mihai and Esme run for cover in opposite directions. No true love ending or was it? Well you need to read the story to know what happened next.
Lasting Impression on me:
I am in love with her writing style; it includes lyrical figurative elements that tease my imagination to no end. The words haunt the mind, long after one has shut the book. And the premise of each tale is so delicious, I bet the synopsis has got many of you drooling in anticipation.
What I loved the most about her tales is her Heroines who seem to have an opinion and didn’t mind going against the conventional wisdom. They knew what they wanted and were willing to take the risk to get there – never mind the consequences!!
These are three stunning fairy tales but with a very modern bent of mind. The setting maybe Victorian or mythical, but the mood is one of self-assurance. On top of it the tales have a wild, almost brazen feel to them that titillated the mind. Her characters struggle with decisions and go against the edict to assuage their own conscience.
It helps that her tale-telling is layered with imagery laden words that sketch out details as fine as a gossamer wing. Oh and did I tell you that the book has some gorgeous illustrations which lend to each tale so beautifully that you have to pick it up to see it.
On that note, I picked up the popular series of Daughter of Smoke and Bone and loved it enough to rate it a 3 1/2 star. The premise, setting and the characters are done superbly; it’s the tale-telling that I have a bone to pick with. I thought these three novels could be condensed into two as the tale meandered a lot. Not to take away from it, her tiny novella embedded in this series was the best thing I read in a while – do check that one out.
Though the book is a YA, I feel the mood is a little dark for young teens and an older set should perhaps read it. Just for that this one gets 4 1/2 star rating. Taking away 1/2 star for the dark tone.
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Coming up tomorrow is [M] Many lives, many masters by Dr. Brian Weiss
For the uninitiated, AtoZ challenge is a blogging challenge wherein one has to write on every alphabet from A to Z and post on all days of April, except Sundays. Usually it’s better to devise a theme as it makes it easy to write the posts. Plus readers have a reason to stay hooked too.
The A to Z Challenge is created by Arlee Bird of Tossing it Out
and co-hosted by
Alex J. Cavanaugh of Alex J. Cavanaugh
Jeremy Hawkins of Hollywood Nuts
John Holton of The Sound of One Hand Typing
J Lenni Dorner of Blog of J. Lenni Dorner
Some of my previous posts you might be interested in catching up on