Maria Luisa Lang definitely has a cat. Wrappa-Hamen, the feline narrator of The Pharaoh’s Cat, can only have been written by someone who lives with, or has lived with, at least one cat.
Through the fulfillment of a goddess’s decree from centuries before, Wrappa-Hamen gains the ability to talk, and to walk on his hind legs like a human. He becomes the companion of a lonely and sad young Pharaoh in ancient Egypt, accompanying him on his travels, sharing his meals, and sleeping on his bed. The evil Vizier, who has overseen the upbringing of the young Pharaoh, hates cats; the High Priest does not.
The Pharaoh’s Cat is a light-hearted adventure, set primarily in ancient Egypt, and an accurate if superficial portrayal of Egyptian mythology. Superficial is not a criticism here; any deeper discussion or description would have been inappropriate. Lang has a gift for writing amusing vignettes of life, and the first half of the book primarily consists of these vignettes, the plot moving along somewhat slowly. Suddenly the pace changes, and elements are introduced that are unexpected.
Lang’s writing is competent and flows well, keeping the same light tone throughout the book. Dialogue is realistic (assuming you can accept a talking cat, that is) but not complex, which is also true of the characters. They remain slightly two-dimensional, with Wrappa-Hamen showing the most development over the course of the story. The plot requires a fair bit of suspension of disbelief; it is a world where gods have real power and presence, and incantations, done properly, work, but this is not high fantasy that takes itself seriously. It’s fun.
Overall I am rating the book 3.5/5 (see how I review and rate books here) and would recommend it to any fantasy fan who enjoys a light-hearted, quick read. There’s a sequel coming out; I will be looking for it.
The author provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are mine alone.
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