One of the most popular subjects for historical fiction novels is Ancient Egypt. This is probably because of the pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx along with other monuments which still stand. Through hieroglyphs on the walls of tombs we have learned a lot about Egyptian mythology and what life was like in ancient times. Most historical novels look at life during this period from a human perspective but we know that Egyptians worshiped cats, so it would make sense to have a novel about Ancient Egypt from a cat’s point of view.
Per-Bast A Tale Of Cats In Ancient Egypt by Lara Dawn Stiegler is a a mystery set during the time of Ramesses III from 1100 to 1200BC. Egypt is in turmoil. A plague has been spread from rats to stray cats to to the house cats of Egypt and its only a matter of time before the humans get it. The Egyptian empire has survived many problems but after several years of war and a labor dispute this new plague might destroy Egypt’s golden age.
Things look grim and get even worse when the High Priest of Karnak Temple dies in a fire along with his cat Sahu. A palace cat named Neferure is convinced that the death was no accident. No one believes Neferure’s theory so she searches for answers on her own. What she finds isn’t just a conspiracy against the Egyptian empire but a plot against the gods themselves. Can one cat stop the fall of Egypt?
This story was different from any other story I’ve read. Per-Bast has a good mix of humor, drama and mystery. I liked how the cats are portrayed as being as smart as humans, they can hear and understand people but they can’t communicate with them with the exception of the Pharaoh. I also liked how the cats on a social level we’re similar to humans with the house cats looking down on the stray cats, all of them having different personalities and believing in the same gods as the humans.
My favorite parts of this book was the relationship between Neferure and Sahu, even when one has passed, the other shows a great amount of loyalty. I also loved the stories of the gods that the cats share such as Ra passing through the underworld along with the story of Ahmes’s lineage. While there is a lot of seriousness to this book there are funny parts such as hearing a depressed crocodile complain that he can’t get a meal, a cat that tries to please his human by giving him a dead mouse and a hippo who can’t be moved.
One thing that I need to mention about this book is that if you think that a mystery set in ancient Egypt from a cat’s viewpoint might be corny, you are mistaken. This book is well researched giving detailed descriptions of temples, a history of families in Egypt and it does a good job telling the stories of the gods that the Egyptians believed in. If you want to learn more about ancient Egypt history and their mythology, this book presents it in an entertaining way. Per-Bast A Tale Of Cats In Ancient Egypt is good storytelling presenting history in a way that it hasn’t been looked at before and its a tale that readers of all ages can enjoy.