Review: A Stiff Kiss

A Stiff Kiss, by Avery Olive

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 arms, 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.

I’m part of Avery’s blog tour–she and I are Twitter friends and I’m happy to be part of her book publicity. Also, Avery, I know you’re reading this, but you just have a fantastic name. AVERY OLIVE. It sounds like something out of the comic book world, and I mean that in a good way. I feel like maybe I’ve told you this before. Anyway…

Writing: 4 wings

I would use the world “light” to describe Olive’s writing style. It’s easy to read, and you can get caught up in the prose. I was able to read this in about two days, and I only cut up my reading time because I had to work.

There is a dark side to light writing, however. Too light means that the darker parts of the novel–like Xylia needing closure on a certain event that I will not spoil–don’t get explored in a satisfying way. That’s not to say that her character wasn’t fully explored–it was, see below–but I felt more like an observer in this rather than actually empathizing with her sorrow.

I did enjoy the carefree, sarcastic wit in other areas of the narrative, like the character descriptions: they really painted a picture for me.

Plot: 3.5 wings

From reading the plot description, I thought it would be more of a cat-and-mouse situation: the big bad death eaters chasing Xylia and Landon all over town, trying to kill one or the other or both. Because of this expectation, during the read, I didn’t feel like there was any real danger in this story. There is a subplot about the unbalancing of the universe going on, but it is only hinted at and really only surfaces toward the end. The tension in the novel comes from the characters’ internal demons, and how they console one another and face reality. I did, however, enjoy the climax/twist at the end. Even though it wasn’t what I expected, the story did flow and there weren’t any jarring “why is this happening?” moments. Overall, I think I was expecting more of a punch and instead got a little nudge.

Characters: 4 wings

The names were convenient to say the least (Morana=death, and Phoenix=rebirth), but Xylia’s character in particular was quite strong. She had a unique internal dilemna that was slowly revealed through the story. In a way, it was like unwrapping an old butterscotch candy. The plastic sticks to the gooey butterscotch because it’s old and potentially flattened, and doesn’t look particularly appealing. But inside, she there is something delicious and sweet that has not been marred by time. To equate this to the story: on the outside, Xylia dressing in goth attire and attending funerals for fun and sleeping in cemeteries sounds weird and a little cheesy in a way, but once you discover the reason for this, it puts it in perspective.

Sometimes the POV switching was a little confusing–especially when it switched in the middle of the scene, from Xylia to Landon. But I did appreciate the multiple POVs because it created more depth for both characters. Plus, it’s always fun to know things the characters don’t!

Overall: 4 wings

A quick, entertaining read. Recommended if you have an free afternoon with no commitments!

See my interview with her here, where you can win some swag! You can also enter to win a hard copy on Goodreads.