Oh my stars, you guys! Interwebs. Population of English-speaking countries. Sentient beings. Frequent commenters. Lurking friends and slinking enemies… LISTEN UP, all of you:
I fell in love. I am in love. In LOVE!
Y’all know how I feel about words, right? I like to slow dance with sentences and snuggle with clauses. I’d spend a summer afternoon on a riverbank, lying under the bow of a tree with the bite of a crisp, tart paragraph. When the right words find the right order, I can feel the fizz under my tongue, the tingle in the base of my spine. The hairs on my arms stand up.
I also love strong, real-feeling characters with fancies and foibles, and dialogue that feels like conversations people ACTUALLY HAVE, and far-away places and moody atmospheres and that way certain authors have of making everyday things feel magical. I love bad choices and grey morals and things that feel light but aren’t, like the sun sparkling on a rip in the ocean that will carry you away if you jump in. ALL THAT STUFF.
Most of the time, these things aren’t all found together. If they were, I probably wouldn’t be trying so hard to write them myself.
But then I read Lips Touch: Three Times, by Laini Taylor. Look at this first paragraph:
“Kizzy’s family lived in the weird house outside of town with all the anvils in the yard and the tick-ridden billy goat that rammed the fence whenever anyone walked past. The mailman wouldn’t come up to the door, which worked out fine, since no one ever wrote to them.”
And this! Read this AT ONCE:
“Kizzy hated it all, and she kind of hated herself too, by association. She hated mirrors, hated her ankles, hated her hair. She wanted to climb out of her life as if it were a seashell she could abandon on a shore and walk away from, barefoot. No one else on the whole landmass of North America, she was sure, had such a stupid life.”
It makes my spine shiver! Laini Taylor – who I think I’ve mentioned here already because I was already a total fangirl creep for her writing blog — puts together sentences you can TASTE. She writes like dessert — like literary cheesecake that’s all velvety-smooth texture and sharp flavour and crunchy outside bits. CRUNCHY OUTSIDE WORDS, YOU GUYS. YUM. And Kizzy! I RECOGNISE Kizzy. Goddamn, is there anyone who’s ever been a teenage girl and doesn’t feel like they’ve LIVED in that paragraph? DO NOT LIE TO ME! I WILL NOT HAVE ANY OF YOUR CHEEK TODAY, interwebs and English-speakers and lurkers and slinkers!
I devoured this book in the best way: gobbling up the words and the places and the wolves and the ice and the room of ancient, crusted eyeballs in one sitting. And, BONUS, it did not make me fat! In fact, I would be willing to hazard a guess that this book is likely to make the reader lithe and suave and at least twice as interesting to others! MUCH, MUCH better than cheesecake.
Lips Touch is three stories, each revolving around a kiss — the first, Goblin Fruit, the story of Kizzy and the goblins who hunger after her soul “leaning out there like an untucked shirt”, followed by Spicy Little Curses Such As These, a story about Anamique, a girl in colonial India who is cursed at birth to kill anyone who hears her voice (India! Hell! A soldier in love!), and finally Hatchling, a deliciously twisted, icy delight about demons called Druj, Russian werewolves who kidnap baby girls and raise them, caged and leashed, in their far-away ice palace WITH CHILLING RESULTS. (Chilling! In the ice! See what I did there!)
The whole thing is GORGEOUS, and ILLUSTRATED, and DELICIOUS SPUN-SUGAR WORD-MAGIC.
(Aside: I’m hungry. IS IT THAT OBVIOUS?)
TO CONCLUDE: I loved it. Go read it.
“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.