Many historical fiction authors take on the Big Stories, but Grahame-Smith has taken on one of the biggest of all: the birth of Christ. It’s the birth story from the perspective of one of the Three Wise Men (yes, they of gold, frankincense and myrrh fame), Balthazar. But Balthazar isn’t a king or a wise man. He’s a hustler and a thief on the run from the might of the Roman Empire and becomes an accidental hero in his defence of the holy family. The story of that defence is the substance of the novel. It’s a breathtaking ride, with a mash-up of historical fact, fiction and fantasy that is Grahame-Smith’s trademark, and deeply moving at times. The real star for me was the evil King Herod. Here the author really lets rip with brilliant results. Grahame-Smith also portrays Mary and Joseph as real human beings caught up in overwhelming circumstances. So did he succeed with the Big Story? For this reviewer, definitely. Hugely enjoyable.