Forget everything you thought you knew about the dusty old Pharaohs of ancient history. Wrappa-Hamen, the Pharoah’s Cat, is here to make them come alive in a hilarious way you would not have thought possible before reading this excellent fantasy tale by Maria Luisa Lang.
When first we meet Wrappa-Hamen, he’s getting his feline ass kicked — literally — by Caca-Mut, the Pharoah’s uncle and Vizier — the most powerful man in Upper Egypt, after the Pharoah, of course. Wrappa-Hamen has stumbled upon a sealed tomb and — well, he is snooping to see if there isn’t something more delectable to eat inside the tomb than mummified intestines — yuck!
“You accursed cat,” the Vizier yells. “I’ll have your life!”
But, that’s far from what happens as Wrappa-Hamen becomes the dearest friend and confidant of the boy-king, seventeen-year-old Pharoah Maat-Ba. The cat — now acclaimed at court and magically able to converse and walk on two legs through the royal palace — embarks on a series of misadventures that will leave your sides splitting, trying to take in the sheer audacity and imaginative scope of this author in bringing Wrappa-Hamen to life.
Wrappa-Hamen jumps from one unlikely situation to another as he travels the kingdom with the young Pharoah. He is accused of killing the sacred crocodile (true), deflating a huge hippopotamus (true), and emitting a large and noisome fart in the Pharoah’s bedchamber (also true).
Throughout this incredible book, the reader is not only entertained by Wrappa-Hamen’s antics. There is a wealth of rich history here, brought to life by a talented storyteller who is obviously also well-versed in the daily rituals and activities of ancient Egyptian customs and rituals.
At the Festival of the Harvest, Wrappa-Hamen averts his eyes as a young couple disrobe and make love in a wheatfield. in front of hundreds of festival-goers. The Pharoah explains that the mating ritual is necessary to ensure a good harvest. But Wrappa-Hamen is embarrassed. “I’m used to seeing cats do it,” he reports, “but not humans.”
Meanwhile, Wrappa-Hamen’s old nemesis, the Vizier, keeps looking for ways to eliminate this new rival who has now become the Pharoah’s dearest friend and traveling companion. Finally, he succeeds — by performing an act so vile it threatens the very stability of Egypt itself.
To escape the Vizier’s vengeance, Wrappa-Hamen joins the High Priest in a magical boat, and they are whisked through time and space to the twenty-first century and wind up in New York City. What happens there is truly amazing — and it provides the perfect set-up for the satisfying ending to this terrific tale.
I award five stars to The Pharoah’s Cat and can’t wait to see more of this talented, gifted writer’s work.
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