An atypical take on aliens among us, Lerman’s novel is executed flawlessly.
The Stargazer’s Embassy, by Eleanor Lerman, is a thrilling reversal of the alien abduction trope.
Plagued by a lifetime of being followed by “the things”—aliens poorly disguised in human clothing—Julia Glazer spends most of her time trying to dissociate, keeping her mind busy with cleaning and music. Her seemingly low-key existence is shaken when she meets and falls in love with John, a disgraced psychiatrist obsessed with helping patients who claim to have been abducted by aliens.
Unaware of her secret, John invites Julia to live with him, thus surrounding her with the very world she sought to escape. A series of personal tragedies prompted by the things forces Julia to finally confront the notion of death and the role that it has played in her life.
The Stargazer’s Embassy offers a fresh perspective on the alien abduction trope, introducing a protagonist who wants nothing to do with the extraterrestrials who haunt her. This, along with text that is focused on exposition, character development, and plot, moves the book into the upper echelon of speculative fiction.
Language use is beautiful, cultivating vivid, emotional scenes that add to the ethos of the text. The decision to have Julia narrate is ingenious, trapping the reader in her mind as she experiences long bouts of fear, isolation, and exhaustion caused by years of extraterrestrial haranguing. Her neuroticism and bouts of depression become understandable as coping mechanisms that keep her from breaking down completely.
This work is remarkably hard to put down. Lerman innately understands how to build tension and suspense while still maintaining coherent plot and dialogue. Fun bits of foreshadowing also set the book up for a second or third read, with something new to be discovered each time.
An atypical take on a familiar concept, The Stargazer’s Embassy is executed flawlessly.
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