This is a fun holiday-themed novella with a super intriguing premise. The execution isn’t as great as the premise itself but it’s a fun book to pass time with.
Here’s how the story starts: Earth has been invaded by aliens. Only, they aren’t interested in turning everyone to dust. Or kidnapping any earth people for any nefarious experimentation. They don’t really seem to be interested in doing anything except being rooted to one particular spot (so much so that people started wondering if they were some species of alien plant life), and glaring.
“They just stood there. And stood there.” And glared:
[n]o plant ever glared like that. It was a look of utter, withering dissaproval. The first time I saw it in person, I thought, Oh, my God, it’s Aunt Judith.
Why have these beings come to Earth? Why are they glaring with such disapproval? Can they even understand us? And why do they react the way they do to certain words in certain Christmas carols? All these are questions that our heroine races to answer.
I loved the start of the story, and I loved the ending. The middle sagged a bit for me. The endless list of holiday songs became a little tedious though it left me in awe of the author’s prodigious knowledge of all the music! Despite the too-muchness of it, that music is the linchpin of this story was my favorite part about it. One of the reasons I love this time of the year is the music. I love how singing together feels so joyous, and magical, and Willis’s story captures this wonder perfectly.
A bit for you to enjoy:
The commission at that point consisted of three linguists, two anthropologists, a cosmologist, a meteorologist, a botanist (in case they were plants after all), experts in primate, avian, and insect behavior (in case they were one of the above), and Egyptologist (in case they turned out to have built the Pyramids), an animal psychic, an Air Force colonel, a JAG lawyer, an expert in foreign customs, an expert in nonverbal communication, a weapons expert, Dr. Morthman (who, as far as I could see, wasn’t an expert in anything), and . . . the head of One True Way Maxichurch Reverend Thresher, who was convinced the Altairi were a herald of the End Times.