Nominated for a National Book Award in 2009, Lips Touch is the first young adult novel written by Laini Taylor. It is composed of three stories that take the reader into a world of goblins, demons, hell, curses and kisses. Sound incongruous? It all makes sense when you realize that kisses can be dangerous.
The first story in the book,Goblin Fruit, is the strongest and my favorite, maybe. Kizzy is a high school student who longs to be beautiful, alluring and attractive to men. But she's not. This makes her the perfect victim for goblins who prey on girls just like her. When a new boy starts school and is immediately attentive to her she responds, though she's been warned by her grandmother to be alert to beautiful men and situations that seem too-good-to-be-true. As relations quicken between Kizzy and Jack she ignores the signs her grandmother is sending, until one final moment of decision. This story is highly sensual and evokes the feelings and atmosphere of Goblin Market, the famous Christina Rossetti poem, perfectly, yet with a modern sensibility.
The second story, Spicy Little Curses Such as These, is set during the British Raj and centers on a curse. At birth Anamique is cursed with the most beautiful voice ever heard, but one that would kill any human who happens to hear it. She lives her life in silent motion, begged by the servants to never utter a sound. At 17 she falls in love with a damaged war veteran and struggles with her desire to tell him of her love. Will the curse be violated or will she remain without a voice? This story didn't capture my interest as much as the other two, but I think it is mainly because I don't really care for the time period or subject matter. It has nothing to do with Taylor's writing.
The third story is longer than the other two and maddeningly fascinating. Hatchling relates the tale of Esme, a sheltered fourteen-year-old whose life changes dramatically when she wakes up one morning with one blue eye and one brown eye. From this she discovers her mother's shocking history as a "milk sacrifice" to a frightening race of soulless vampire/werewolf like creatures. Hatchling felt Eastern European, black forest, wolfish and dark. I loved it. I think this may be my favorite story.
The illustrations by Taylor's gifted husband, Jim di Bartolo, help create the right atmosphere for her writing.
Taylor is a magnificent and imaginative writer. Her prose is lush without being flowery and gorgeous to read. I am truly in love with her. Her next YA novel will be released in October. I have baited breath.