Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor, illustrated by Jim Di Bartolo
In three stories, this book explores the power of a kiss and its ability to change one’s life. The first story, Goblin Fruit, features a teen who has been raised by a family who still lives off the land and believes in the old stories. But Kizzy longs to be loved, yearns to be noticed. She is noticed by a beautiful new boy at the school. Readers will immediately realize that this is too good to be real, but will Kizzy? The second story, Spicy Little Curses, is set in India. An elderly woman visits a demon in hell and negotiates for the lives of children. In one deal, she trades the lives of over 20 children for a single curse. That curse gives a young English woman who has been born and raised in India the most beautiful voice in the world. The twist is that if she speaks, anyone who hears her will die. In the final story, Hatchling, readers find themselves in a fairy tale that turns dark with the howling of wolves and a race of beings who collect children as pets, breed them for coloring, and have lost their souls.
Taylor’s writing here is lush with imagery. Her language is rich and sensual, dark and frightening. She explores large, deep themes without hesitation, leading readers through explorations of lust, longing, and trust. Through her skilled characterization, readers are captivated almost immediately by each story. They are not linked stories, but are laced together loosely by theme and tone. Taylor creates three distinct stories, each fascinating and complex. The grouping of the three together is masterful with each of them becoming stronger by being next to another.
These are short stories that will have teen readers asking for more. Point them towards Margo Lanagan for more short stories that have dark themes. Appropriate for ages 14-17.
Reviewed from ARC received from publisher. ARC did not contain the bulk of the illustrations.