I love reading about animals in both fiction and nonfiction. I am also fascinated by ancient Egypt. Together, with these interests in mind, I thought The Pharaoh’s Cat (May 2015) looked like a promising new novel.
The title Pharaoh lost his parents seven years ago, in a shipwreck. Since this tragedy, his uncle, the Vizier, has been raising him. In the opening chapters, these two are standing among the ruins of a robbed tomb when a stray cat appears and makes the young man laugh for the first time in a while. Pharaoh Maat-Ba believes this cat was sent by the gods. Unamused by the cat’s antics, the Vizier wants to see to the cat’s death. When the Pharaoh saves the cat from an almost certain death, it suddenly is able to walk upright on its hind legs and talk. This begins their adventures together.
I really felt the special bond that forms between the Pharaoh and his highly unusual cat. The Vizier becomes quite jealous of this relationship and makes it his mission to get rid of the cat. This leads to many funny scenes. One of the most memorable ones being a kerfuffle between him and a sacred bull while the cat secretly watches.
Rich with historic details, this novel will excite anyone interested in ancient Egypt. I really enjoyed reading about the travels the cat made with the Pharaoh around his lands. The author’s choice to tell this story from the cat’s perspective was both fresh and imaginative. Except for some distracting, unnecessary details about the life of a cat (such as details about cat self-grooming), there were many funny moments of a cat being a cat.
I found the writing style to be a bit stiff and not as fluid as it could have been. However, this is definitely something that I can see improving with future works. Also, there were some obvious editing errors that could have been avoided. Overall, I enjoyed this novel and thought it was a good story.
I recommend The Pharaoh’s Cat to adult and young adults, especially those interested in cats and Egyptology. Maria Luisa Lang is currently at work on a sequel. I look forward to reading about the cat’s next adventure.
Reviewed by Libby Bridges
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