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  • ★★★★★-5

Review: Lips Touch: Three Times (Spoiler-Free)

Well, well, well, here we are again. Laini Taylor really knows how to transport someone to another world and make it feel real. How she manages to do this within short stories, I cannot fathom, but she does so masterfully.

The first story, Goblin Fruit is definitely the most basic of the bunch, but the writing truly elevates it from the generic YA paranormal it could be. Seriously.

Kizzy wanted to be a woman who would dive off the prow of a sailboat into the sea, who would fall back in a tangle of sheets, laughing, and who could dance a tango, lazily stroke a leopard with her bare foot, freeze an enemy's blood with her eyes, make promises she couldn't possibly keep, and then shift the world to keep them. She wanted to write memoirs and autograph them at a tiny bookshop in Rome, with a line of admirers snaking down a pink-lit alley. She wanted to make love on a balcony, ruin someone, trade in esoteric knowledge, watch strangers as coolly as a cat. She wanted to be inscrutable, have a drink named after her, a love song written for her, and a handsome adventurer's small airplane, champagne-christened Kizzy, which would vanish one day in a windstorm in Arabia so that she would have to mount a rescue operation involving camels, and wear an indigo veil against the stinging sand, just like the nomads.

Kizzy wanted.

Now THAT is how you portray a character. What could have been a basic human girl vs. goblin story became a true work of art.

The second story was definitely even better. It follows a woman who's the ambassador to Hell, and a girl who has never spoken in fear of killing all those around her. She'd been cursed as a child, due to a deal the ambassador could not pass up to save the lives of many others, and now she can never speak lest she want to risk the death of those she loves. That is, until she meets James, the man who falls in love with her writing and holds no fear of her voice. And from there, chaos ensues.

The depiction of Hell in this story really reminded me of the Underworld in Disney's Hercules; the imagery was truly stunning. And the ending was so, so strong.

The last story however. Wow. This one nearly left me speechless.

'Is that all souls are for? For when we die?'

'No. They're for living, too.'

This piece, Hatchling is extravagant. It's lush and harrowing and will leave me reeling for the next few days I'm sure. It's about the Druj, a demonlike, immortal people who keep humans as pets and can inhabit them whenever they choose. It follows Esmé and her mother Mab as they fear being hunted by the Druj again, the very people who took so much life from Mab as a child.

This story drew in some of the most fascinating themes I've ever read about. It discusses the true meaning of humanity, life, souls, and what it means to be fleeting, what it means to remember. Mihai strives to regain the feeling of life after becoming immortal, after becoming Druj, and it's through this journey, and how it intersects with that of Mab and Esmé, that everything is revealed.

You practically fall straight into this reality, into the world of Mihai and the Druj, and may find yourself, in a shocking turn of events, empathizing with demons. Demons who make you come to terms with your own humanity.

On top of all of these incredible stories, this book also features beautiful illustrations done by Jim Di Bartolo. A unique aspect about them is that they come before and after the story, and are essential to the reading experience. They can essentially serve as a prologue of sorts, and pieces fall into place as you read more into the story, connecting the dots to the images you have already seen, enhancing the reading experience even further, essentially "reminding" you of memories you forgot you had. This really made the stories feel real; recalling these images mirror that of the character's realizations.

If you have yet to read from Laini Taylor, or are a longtime fan, this truly is a must-read. Her writing is extraordinary, and I haven't read anything like it. I cannot wait to see what she does next.

Song I was reminded of while reading: No Time to Die


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