Taylor's writing is exceptionally beautiful. Her prose is just a style unto its own, and Lips Touch is no different. Having first read (and loved) Daughter of Smoke & Bone as well as Days of Blood & Starlight, I found this book - published before her others - a bit rougher & less polished in terms of the story development. All of her books have a visceral element of creepiness, danger, and gore. I love that she's not afraid to go there.
This first story was short, but had a nicely succinct arc to it and the ambiguous ending added perfectly to the already high creep-factor. Despite being brief, Goblin Fruit was has some of the most quotable prose & visceral descriptions. Kizzy & her wayward Jack...
“Kizzy wanted it all so bad her soul leaned half out of her body hungering after it, and that was what drove the goblins wild, her soul hanging out there like an untucked shirt.”
“Cats and ghosts both partook of the saucers of milk and that was okay. They consumed different parts of it: the cats its substance, the ghosts its essence, and none went to waste.”
“Kizzy was so busy wishing she was Sarah Ferris or Jenny Glass that she could scarcely see herself at all and she was certainly blind to her own weird beauty: her heavy spell-casting eyes too-wide mouth wild hair and hips that could be wild too if they learned how. No one else in town looked anything like her and if she lived to womanhood she was the one artists would want to draw not the Sarahs and Jennys. She was the one who would some day know a dozen ways to wear a silk scarf how to read the sky for rain and coax feral animals near how to purr throaty love songs in Portuguese and Basque how to lay a vampire to rest how to light a cigar how to light a man's imagination on fire.”
I didn't care too much for the second story, Spicy Little Curses, and maybe this is where the book fell short for me? I don't think there was anything wrong with Taylor's writing or story-building here, it just didn't suit my tastes.
“An idea fell like a seed and over the next weeks it went on growing like a fig vine lush and conquering twining round her old beliefs and covering them in new growth until they were as invisible as a tiger in a thicket and just as deadly.”
The third, and by far the longest, of the 3 stories was the last: Hatchling. Once again, her prose and careful world-building are nothing short of amazing. It was probably the resolution of the fairy tale (it seemed like one, yes?) that got me. Taylor builds her stories with such careful layers, her beautiful prose pulling you in to her world... and then 2/3 of the way through I found myself thinking "what??" Still, the story was engrossing, enchanting, creepy, imaginative, gory (the cats!!), and beautiful, but the last part of it just lost me. I think I needed a better resolution for Mab.
“Is that all souls are for? For when we die?"
"No. They're for living, too.”
Lips Touch might not have been my favorite of Taylor's three novels, but it was still a worthy read. If you like fairy tales that are rough and gritty, if you like truly unique stories and beautiful beautiful prose, then her books are not to be missed.