September 20, 2011
LIPS TOUCH is three stories loosely connected by the theme of once-in-a-lifetime kisses. Each section begins with a graphic overview of the tale (illustrations by Taylor's husband, Jim Di Bartolo) and then you get the text. Clever idea and it works well.
My favorite was "Goblin Fruit". Right away we're drawn into the life of a sixteen-year-old Kizzy, who bemoans her oddball family:
"They had no TV but knew hundreds of songs—all of them in a language that Kizzy's teachers had never even heard of —and they sat on rickety chairs in the yard and sang them together, their voices as plaintive as wolves', howling at the moon." [Actually, this sound like fun to me!]
As for Kizzy herself: "She daydreamed about having slim ankles like Jenny Glass instead of peasant ankles like the fetlocks of a draft horse. About smooth hair instead of coarse hair, sleek hips instead of belly dancer's hips. About a tinkling laugh, and a butterfly tattoo, and a boy who would tuck his hand into her back jeans pocket while they walked, and press her up against a fence to suck her lower lip like a globe of fruit."
Yeah, I'm hooked. She had me at hair and hips.
Kizzy's yearnings are like crack to goblins and next thing you know one of them shows up at her high school, transformed into a gorgeous boy intent on stealing her soul. Great setup, great tension, great climax.
"Spicy Little Curses Such as These" tells the story of Anamique, a girl in India who lives as a mute because her voice kills, literally, a curse placed on her by a malicious demon. A horrible dilemma made unbearable when a handsome soldier appears. I love the atmosphere Taylor creates, her sly take on the myth of Orpheus, and the wicked twist that leaves the demon a victim of his own curse.
The last story, "Hatchling", didn't enthrall me as much as the others, though Taylor's voice is so strong I had to keep reading to find out the truth about a girl whose left eye turns blue the morning she hears wolves in London.
If you haven't read this and you like your fantasy filled with wit and insight, give it a try!