There isn't much going on for the the first 60 or so percent. Not much of m/m romance, not much sex (save for the tiniest scene of 3-4 paragraphs), not much angst, love, hate or any kind of feelings for that matter. It's mostly every day life of a tattoo master, his servants and his living art pieces, the outings, feasts, bit of politics mixed in.
However, it was a fascinating tale, unusual, beautiful, exotic, almost hypnotizing. Until the last 20% kicked in. And that's where it turned truly ugly. Sure, that's real life for you. You have overindulging elite and poor, starving masses. Want to guess the ending?
Somehow, this fascinating fairy-tale fantasy slash French revolution did not impress me.
After the grandeur of the story, the painstaking details in description and the development of it, the ending feels (to me at least) almost as a brush off. "yep, they are damaged, but they are OK. move along now, there is nothing to see".
A star and a half off, but have no choice but to round it up to four, the book doesn't deserve 3 stars rounded down.