Review originally posted here
.Why I Read It:
I've been wanting to read Laini Taylor ever since Daughter of Smoke and Bone
was released last September (and which I own a copy of but still haven't read.) I picked this up while at the library the other day. I had some time to kill and was perusing their YA section when I found it, and I'm incapable of leaving a library without at least one book.
This book is comprised of three short stories (I'd actually consider two of them to be closer to novellas, but for simplicity's sake I'll just refer them as short stories) that all revolve an important kiss.
Before talking about the stories though, I really want to talk about the book itself; it's absolutely GORGEOUS and I love it. It has colour illustrations in red, black and white that paint a picture of events that have transpired BEFORE the story you're about to read. There's also an illustration at the end of the story. The pictures
, and really add to the story. The first letter at the beginning of each chapter and the page numbers are also in red, and the page quality is really nice as well. It's a book that's totally worth owning if you enjoy it.
Now, I'll talk briefly about each story without giving away any spoilers:
The first story is called "Goblin Fruit", and I really enjoyed it. It's a fairy-tale story with a modern flair: modern setting, modern dialogue, modern girl problems. One of the things I liked most about this story was the easy banter between Kizzy and her two friends. Even though the story has a fairy-tale feel to it, their modern and quippy dialogue doesn't feel out of place or forced into the story. It's also about REAL problems that teenagers face, without being didactic: wanting to belong without compromising your individuality, and wanting to be accepted by someone. The fairy-tale elements give it some panache, and make it a cautionary tale that doesn't feel outdated. The ending was also deliciously ambiguous, and I loved it for that.
The next story, "Spicy Little Curses Such As These", was great as well. It also has the fairy-tale vibe going on, but with a completely different setting and atmosphere. The love angle was obviously a little rushed and quick to come, what with the page count, but because of that fairy-tale vibe emanating from the story it was much easier to roll with it and to just be immersed in it. I loved the lore that Taylor used here (it's based off Hinduism I think) and how she put her own twist on it (which you can read more about in her Afterword), and the world-building was really awesome for such a short story. The ending was nice and hopeful without being sunshine and rainbows.
The last story, "Hatchling", is the longest and a favourite amongst most readers. The world-building was definitely the best part. I have no idea how Taylor packed so much of it into such a short story without info-dumping the hell out of her readers. The lore revolves around the Fae and shapeshifters, but in a way that I haven't seen in Paranormal stories. The narrative is a little jumpy, as it hops between Esmee, her mother Mab, and the lone shapeshifter Mahai, as well as slipping between the past and the present. It never does so in a jarring or confusing way though; it's also easy to follow and the flashbacks lead into what's happening in the present narrative. The ending comes together really nicely.
I'm still trying to decide which of these three stories is my favourite and I can't seem to make up my mind. All the stories have something that I really enjoyed, but for different reasons, and they're all different enough from each other, while also being similar enough to work as a cohesive whole.Final Verdict:
This is a really strong collection. I think Taylor was smart in only making it three different works, because they're all very well thought-out and structured. If it had been more than that, it would be too easy to find some stories that are really good, while others would be "meh" in comparison. Either way, I really enjoyed reading this and am even more pumped to read Taylor's other works. The beautiful illustrations also make this book a must-own if you enjoyed the accompanying stories.