Review: Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (October 1, 2009)
Hardcover: 272 pages
Price: $12.23 from Amazon
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.
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?


Review: Lips Touch: Three Times was definitely a welcomed break from the usual. Laini Taylor’s take on myths from other cultures was interesting and unique, and I could tell a lot of research and effort was put into the subject. I actually wasn’t very familiar with even one out of the three myths/cultural beliefs mentioned in the book, so this book definitely gets extra points for going somewhere else.

The main objection I had about the book was probably that it was too short. Don’t be deceived by the back summary, which is actually just about the first story, lasting all of fifty pages. The stories get progressively longer, but, all in all, the stories were a lot shorter than I expected. And I would have liked it a bit more if the author had tied up with more decisive endings. I really enjoyed the last two stories and their endings, but the first one was so open-ended that it could have gone in a million different directions. Some might find that appealing, but it just made me annoyed and frustrated because I really wanted to know what would happen to Kizzy, the main character of story number one. Though I suppose that can be interpreted as a tribute to how engrossing the story was.

On the plus side of having short stories, it allowed room for about five pages of dark, gorgeous images by Jim Di Bartolo, Laini’s husband, at the beginning of each story, depicting key events in the following story. I loved the black drawings with minimalistic color, and I could have loved a whole book of those drawings alone. The text was also beautified, with a stylish gray chapter title and swirls around the beginning letter of each chapter. I simply adore beautiful books, so this one will definitely be going on my shelf and repeatedly taken down, not primarily because of re-reading, but so I can stare at the gorgeous thing that is mine.

Bottom Line: I loved the concept of Lips Touch: Three Times, how the kiss always served as the catalyst for dramatic change. The stories themselves, though short, were very intriguing and insightful, and I enjoyed reading as Laini shaped mystical stories around the legends and culture of various areas around the world. The writing wasn’t especially stand-out to me and it occasionally used some complex words that I don’t think most people will know (ie. novitiate), so while I might re-read it occasionally, I don’t envision myself re-reading this a lot. However, if you want to observe a beautiful book for prolonged periods of time without the store clerk staring oddly at you, I say buy it and you (hopefully) won’t be disappointed. Overall, Lips Touch: Three Times is an engrossing compilation of exotic fairy tales, and the beautifully woven, intricate web of love, loss, and slight touch of magic left me wanting more.