It's only fitting that my first blog entry should be about Laini Taylor, because her website is what inspired me to create this blog in the first place. I discovered Laini Taylor via Robin McKinley's blog (she's also a favourite author), because someone on her forum recommended the book Blackbringer. My library didn't have it, but they did have Lips Touch Three Times, and this book hooked me from the first taste.
It's a beautiful book: the cover is evocative and striking, everything about the design is enticing, but then you turn past the title page and you get a gorgeous illustration by Jim Di Bartolo (Ms. Taylor's husband). He reminds me of Trina Schart Hyman. And then you turn the page and there's another one. In fact, a whole little story told only in pictures. Then Taylor's story begins, and it's juicy and spicy and surprising and delicious. It's like eating a summer-ripe peach, one that's so exquisitely flavoured it gives you shivers.
And that's just the first story. Lips Touch Three Times is a collection of three novellas, each entirely different, each set in a differently-flavoured fantasy world, all centering around a kiss. What a brilliant concept! And these worlds: Taylor borrows from Slavic and Hindu and Roma and I don't know what other mythologies to create her very own fully-realized universes. Which Di Bartolo illustrates perfectly with his introductory graphic stories. You could set ten-volume fantasy epics in each world. Yet this sense of depth, of excess, of reality makes each story completely satisfying. You don't need more: each story is exactly the story that needed to be told.
My favourite of the three stories is "Spicy Little Curses Such as These." It has the best title, ever, don't you think? The first chapter is called "The Demon and the Old Bitch," and it just gets better from there.
I'm not going to say more because my words aren't doing Taylor justice. I've ordered Blackbringer from my local bookstore, and I can't wait until it comes in. Taylor joins the list of writers I'll buy instantly, no questions asked.