A STIFF KISS
By Avery Olive
Published by Crescent Moon Press, February 2012
Who knew kissing a corpse would change everything?
Death always hits Xylia Morana too close to home, but she likes it that way. She hangs out with the terminally ill, attends random funerals, and every so often, when the weather is right, she sleeps in open graves.But after Landon Phoenix, the high school hottie, dies in Xylia's hands, she sneaks into the morgue to say goodbye. How could she know stealing a kiss from his corpse would wake him up?With Landon returned to the living and suddenly interested in Xylia, life has new meaning. But what Xylia doesn't realize is that by kissing Landon back to life, she's thrown Life and Death off balance. The underworld demands a body, and it might just have to be Xylia's this time.
This book surprised me in so many ways! I admit, I put off reading it because the title and cover just didn’t grab me. I’m not sure what I was expecting – maybe a zombie relationship kind of thing? But it’s not – it’s more of a modern fairy tale. And I loved every minute of it.
The chapters are narrated in first person, and alternate between the two main characters. When we first meet Xylia Morana, she seems like your typical goth teen, dressed in black with an attitude to match. As the book gracefully unfolds, so do the layers of her complex character, helping us understand her strange fascination with death, and her strained relationship with her father. Ms. Olive does a masterful job of showing us bits and pieces of her story and her emotions, rather than outright telling.
Likewise, when we first hear Landon Phoenix’s voice, he sounds kind of like the stereotypical high school jock, arrogant and self-assured, who sees a college soccer scholarship as his only ticket out of his confining small-town life. But after being brought back to life by Xylia’s kiss, we hear him question his goals and desires as he tries to understand what happened and why. In the end, he finally realizes there are more important things in life than soccer. Again, the author lets us watch as the layers of his character peel back to reveal a character we can like and root for on his journey.
A STIFF KISS is a beautifully written story of teen angst and self-discovery that took my emotions by storm. It’s about love and second chances, but also about being honest and true to oneself. I can’t wait to read more from Ms. Olive!