An absolute, sheer fucking delight. There's no other way of going about it. I honestly cannot pick any aspect of this book that I didn't want to treasure and hug a thousand times over. The world, characters, sights, scents and everything in between-- it was all so enchanting and powerfully rendered.
Kim Fielding has painted a fantastic world in which the polytheistic worship of very real Gods and Goddesses is still at large, and magic is a subtle but realistic presence. She weaves this world with some incredible, charming characters, and others not so much, but all true-to-life with more layers than the conventional black and white of good and "evil" which completely endeared them to me. Despite the romantic, fairy tale-esque atmosphere, we are presented a confronting, raw insight into the reality of human nature through Brute's eyes, who has suffered constant exploitation and cruelty throughout his life, firstly due to his mother and father (whore and thief respectively) and later due to his appearance and size.
Brute-- Brute is an amazing person. Genuinely kindhearted and humane and totally oblivious to the fact, there are few characters that have given me so much hope for the world, and I'm infinitely grateful that he managed to find someone equally as special. Grey Leynham is just as wonderful of a character; he is so immensely human, his flaws and mistakes a product of youth stupidity which irrevocably shaped his life, where, in the present time of the book, is as a royal prisoner on grounds of treason against the crown. Reading about their slow crawl towards love was both gratifying and heart warming. The sheer magnitude of their love and need for each other really makes one believe that mountains would and rivers would part in their presence. Which, in the book, it pretty much nearly does.
The fantasy aspect of Brute was intriguingly executed, although mostly it didn't manifest very strongly in the novel, apart from in religion and barely mentioned abilities. The recurring myths of Gods and Goddesses added a really nice touch to the story, and tied in fantastically with the plot, where a very traditional romantic theme of Love Conquers All came through (My heart: *melts*).
Not only that, the writing is deliciously smooth, without being overbearing, with lovely sensory imagery. Brute's POV was so tender and raw. And he loves books. Just try to tell me you don't love him. I dare you. *glares and waves around metal bat* 凸(⊙▂⊙✖ )
Verdict? READ *points imperiously* You won't find a more tender and heartful book in a long long time, especially not one that easily reduces you to a lukewarm pile of blubbering goo.
Rating: 4.75 ♥(✿ฺ´∀`✿ฺ)ﾉ
P.S Brute reminds me bit of Al from Muscling Through