I always kind of shy away from "Christmas" books. Too often, they drip with fake sentimentality. When I saw this one, however, I decided to give it a try. For one thing, it isn't a "Christmas" story, but an "Epiphany" story. It focuses on one of the Magi, Melchior (Caspar and Balthazar are the other two). I'm sure books have been written from this viewpoint, but the only one I've encountered is sections from Christopher Moore's Lamb and, well, that's a different sort of book.
While this book may be categorized as "Christian Fiction," it doesn't read as such. By that, I mean it isn't steeped in Christian (post-Resurrection) beliefs. Instead, it goes back to the Jewish prophesies and their beliefs. Melchior is a Gentile--I'm not exactly sure what we would call him in modern terms. My guess "Persian" is the best description. His wife, however, is Hebrew--which is how he learns of the Jewish prophesies.
This is a short, enjoyable read--and one that is packed with content. We learn about Melchior's past, his relationships with his family, with his wife, with his fellow astronomers--all without the reader feeling like too much is being presented at once. Indeed, this is a book where every word is carefully chosen for greatest impact.
There were a few parts where I felt Fish overreached just a bit--and I wish she had gone into more detail when the Magi met up with Herod. However, beyond that, I found this a very fulfilling book that I would recommend to anyone looking for a seasonal read.