Fairy Tale Friday: Lips Touch Three Times

January 15, 2010 at 12:10 am 2 comments

Art by Jim Di Bartolo for Lips Touch

Modern lovers of fairy tales may be disappointed by the dearth of new material. After the Victorians, it seems, fairy tales seem to have fallen by the wayside as writers turned toward sci-fi and a dungeons and dragons-type fantasy that places a great emphasis on swords and very little on the fae folk.

Lately, that lack appears to be abating. I’ve already mentioned that Susanna Clarke has done wonders in recreating the fairy tale as an adult form, especially in The Ladies of Grace Adieu. Laini Taylor appears to be continuing what Susanna Clarke began, in a sense, only manipulating fairy tales to appeal to teenaged, rather than adult, readers. Taylor’s Lips Touch is a collection of short stories that center on fairies and fairy magic, entwined with the themes of yearning, love, and lust.

Magic and yearning? If you’re thinking Twilight, you’re not that far off — the first tale in Lips Touch, based on “The Goblin Market” by Christina Rosetti, is about a girl who falls in love with the beautiful new boy at school. They go shopping at a thrift store, the girl outfits the boy in a rather steampunk-meets-Tim Burton manner, and they spend a lot of time not kissing.

As the third story involves a werewolf (albeit one with rather unusual origins and limitations), it’s safe to say that Lips Touch would probably appeal to Twihards the world over — but Taylor at least has read “The Goblin Market,” has a healthy respect for women, and a solid grounding in the fantasy and fairy tale genres, none of which Stephanie Meyer can be said to posess.

The second story, “Spicy Little Curses Such as These,” is really where Taylor shines. This fairy tale is perfect, original and traditional at the same time.  There is a beautiful girl cursed with a terrible curse from birth, an old woman who was once a young woman so in love with her husband that she sold her soul to try to win him back from death, and a brash young man who despite being a solider still seems to believe that love can conquer all. Traditional elements, yes, but Taylor twists them all into a fabulous, glittering yarn more remniscent of Wilde than of Meyer.

If you are a modern fairy tale fan, this is a book worth finding — don’t let the rather odd cover turn you off, either. In fact, if you like, skip past the rather teen-geared first story and dig straight into “Spicy Little Curses,” followed by the third story, a take on the changeling fable called “Hatchling.”

(Additionally, you can also follow Taylor on Twitter! She’s rather sensibly @lainitaylor.)


Entry filed under: Fairy Tale Friday, Fantasy. Tags: , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Aishwarya  |  January 16, 2010 at 6:55 am

    The first story is actually the one that worked best for me, I think in part because I was reading it as a sort of response to both Goblin Market and Twilight. I mean, on the one hand you have a text that centralises desire but allows for its heroine to do stupid things stupidly for that desire, and on the other a text that tells you desire is dangerous and you must therefore run away – and she manages to capture (for me) what makes Twilight work without (unlike Meyer or Rossetti) showing disrespect for the female character. It’s a pretty impressive feat.

    Agree with you about the second story, and also about the cover. With an illustrator as amazing as Di Bartolo (the art inside the book is phenomenal) there really is no excuse for that cover picture.

    • 2. KT  |  January 16, 2010 at 11:21 am

      Excellent point on the first story — Kizzy is definitely a solid, active character in every way Bella is not, and I like both her and Taylor for that. I suppose the theme of the story, then, is that sometimes desire makes you do stupid things, but then again that’s life?

      Yeah, I don’t know what Di Bartolo was smoking when he did the cover. Oh well, no one’s perfect, and the illustrations more than make up for it.


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