The Pharaoh’s Cat by Maria Luisa Lang
Genre: Middle Grade, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Historical
Length: Full Length (182 pages)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 3 Stars
Review by: Astilbe
The Pharaoh’s Cat, narrated in the present tense by the cat himself, is the story of a free-spirited, quick-witted stray in ancient Egypt who suddenly finds himself with human powers joined to his feline nature. The cat immediately captures the attention of the seventeen-year-old Pharaoh, making him laugh for the first time since his parents’ death, and is brought to live with him at the royal palace. The cat also becomes friends with the High Priest of the god Amun-Ra and seeks his help in solving the mystery of his human powers and the supernatural manifestations that later plague him. He has an enemy in the Vizier—the Pharaoh’s uncle and the second most powerful man in Egypt. The Vizier hates him for himself and even more for his relationship with the Pharaoh. The cat participates in festivities at the royal palace, developing an insatiable appetite for good food, wine, and gossip. He later accompanies the Pharaoh on a trip through his kingdom, all the while renewing the Pharaoh’s ability to enjoy life and inspiring him to become a stronger leader. Between the cat and the Pharaoh a bond of love gradually forms which will determine Egypt’s destiny. The Pharaoh’s Cat imaginatively blends Egyptology with comedy, drama, and even time travel–the cat and the High Priest will meet Elena, a resident of the twenty-first century and the daughter of a renowned Egyptologist.
If cats could speak human languages, they’d have a lot to say to us.
Wrappa-Hamen was a walking, talking puzzle. Some of his mannerisms were so human that once or twice I almost forget he was actually an animal. He also had a strong streak of mischievousness in his personality that was incredibly cat-like, though. It was fun to figure out how his human and feline sides were connected because the author had clearly spent so much time weaving them together.
I would have liked to see more conflict included in the plot. Experiencing this slice of history from the narrator’s point of view was fascinating, but it took quite a while for me to realize why he was sharing his tale with the audience. His adventures simply didn’t have the sense of urgency they would have had if his mission had been explained more clearly in the beginning. At times I found my interest in the storyline wavering because of this.
This was a surprisingly funny book. The main character’s curiosity lead him to try all kinds of things that he’d never experienced before. I chuckled at how he handled the consequences of his choices while also wondering what he could possibly get into next. It definitely wasn’t the reaction I was expecting to have to this story, but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed these scenes. They worked well with everything else I’d figured out about Wrappa-Hamen’s personality.
I’d recommend The Pharoah’s Cat to adult and young adult readers alike who are interested in ancient Egypt.