Thursday 23 July 2015

Cover Reveal - The Pharaoh's Cat by Maria Luisa Lang

The Pharaoh's Cat
Author: Maria Luisa Lang
Genre: Historical Fiction / Fantasy / Comedy

Book Description:
Kicked in the ass, a stray tomcat in ancient Egypt can now do the impossible—talk and act like a man, make ancient Egypt funny, visit New York City, bring the Pharaoh back from the dead.

The cat, who narrates in the present tense, is exploring a looted tomb when he is kicked by the Vizier, the Pharaoh’s uncle and second only to him. The cat retaliates by spitting a cat amulet at his attacker, hitting him in the forehead.

The Vizier wants to kill the cat on the spot, but the High Priest of Amun-Ra intervenes. When the High Priest says the cat cannot stand up to his accuser and speak in his own defense, the cat suddenly finds that he can. The Pharaoh enters the tomb, hears the cat hurling wisecracks at the Vizier, and laughs for the first time since his parents’ death.

The Pharaoh takes the cat to live with him at the royal palace, and a bond of love soon forms. The High Priest becomes the cat’s friend and confidant. From him, the cat learns that the cat-goddess Bastet has given him his powers, but not why, only that she will one day ask him a question. The Vizier becomes an even more vindictive enemy as the Pharaoh, inspired by the cat to become a stronger leader, curtails his powers.

When the Pharaoh and the cat return from a tour of Egypt, the Vizier murders the Pharaoh, blames the cat, and orders him executed. The High Priest rescues him, and they travel through time to New York City, where they stay with Elena, a prominent Egyptologist’s daughter. They go to an ancient Egyptian exhibit, end up in Central Park, then at a cathedral, and later retrieve a lost spell to revive the dead.

They return to Egypt to revive the Pharaoh, but the spell fails to work till Bastet appears to ask the cat to give his life in return for the Pharaoh’s. He says yes, but Bastet only needed him to agree for the spell to work. The Pharaoh is resurrected, kills the Vizier in battle, then returns to the world above after making the High Priest pharaoh in his place.

The High Priest reigns for seven years with the cat at his side. A rebellion forces them to return to New York City, where they find Elena pregnant with the High Priest’s child. For her, only months have passed. The cat immediately senses that the child she carries is the Pharaoh reincarnated.

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From Chapter 1

As I go down the stairs, I step on something soft, a small bundle wrapped with strips of linen. It smells sweet and spicy. Food?

My claws quickly unravel the linen strips, and I examine my prize--

For the love of Bastet, mummified intestines!

As I go further down the stairs, I come across three more bundles and give them a wide berth.

The pharaoh's mummified head is lying on the last few steps. The rest of his mummy is scattered on the floor near the sarcophagus.

Not content with taking the jewelry that adorned the mummy, the tomb-robbers hacked it up to get to the amulets placed in the linen wraps.

Most of the bandages around the head have become undone, revealing a sunken mouth and two rows of brown teeth, and, worse, two glass eyes.

One is still in the eye socket where the embalmer put it, and the other, caught between the linen wraps, is resting on the mummy’s cheek and staring at me.

I be-piss myself!

The stream of urine hits a stone, and the ricochet almost puts out an oil lamp. I watch the trickle run past the bottom half of the mummy to a gilded wooden chest with the lid torn off.

Even though they’re badly damaged, I recognize the four carved female figures each hugging a corner of the chest--the goddesses Eset, Neb-hut, Neit, and Selket. The Protectors of the Dead.

Protectors of the Dead, my rump! They couldn’t even protect their own effigies.

I explore further and prick my paw. I give it a soothing lick and look at what I’ve stepped on--a gold cat amulet!

I pick it up with my teeth and put it in my mouth. What if I were to take the amulet to the temple of Bastet in Bast?

I close my eyes and imagine my journey through the desert where I’m faced with all sorts of dangers. I imagine arriving at the temple gate, exhausted, perhaps close to death, and letting the amulet drop from my tired mouth to the feet of the priests.

“Look at the poor creature,” I can almost hear them say. “The gods only know what he has been through to bring us this gift.” I can almost taste the delicacies that the temple cooks, under orders from the priests, will prepare for me. I can almost feel the softness of the feather pillows put under my rump by a pretty maiden, to sooth my aching body--

My daydreams of pleasure are ended by a hard kick in the ass. I’m sent flying, and I land inside the sarcophagus, my head between my hind legs.

The Protectors of the Dead are finally on the job?

But there’s nothing remotely divine or feminine about the angry bald man who's looking down at me and shaking a staff.

I spit the cat amulet at him, hitting him on the forehead.

“You accursed cat!” he shouts. “I’ll have your life!”

He bends over the sarcophagus, grabs me by the scruff of the neck, and pulls me out.

He's wearing a long white skirt that reaches to his underarms and is held up by two thin shoulder straps.

So much exposed skin. I unsheathe my claws and try to scratch him.

He's so preoccupied with keeping me at arm's length he doesn't see another man approaching.

He's also bald and dressed in white. His semitransparent robe covers a skirt falling from his waist to his knees.

He wears a thick necklace made of strings of colored beads. Hanging from it is a gold medallion bearing the sacred insignia worn by the High Priest of Amun-Ra.

He's frowning, but the look in his eyes is benevolent.

“Caca-Mut,” the High Priest says as he reaches his side.

Caca-Mut is so startled he drops me.

“Damn beast,” he hisses.

I take cover behind the sarcophagus, sticking my head out to keep track of his movements.

I find him staring at me.


Reluctantly, Caca-Mut turns his head to the High Priest, watching me out of the corner of his eye.

“I saw you leaving us,” the High Priest says. “You looked upset, so I followed you.”

“While you and the Pharaoh were busy discussing the progress being made on his tomb,” Caca-Mut explains, “one of the cemetery guards informed me that his patrol had discovered this tomb was broken into. His captain had told him not to report it.”

So one of the imbeciles ratted after all! I shiver to think what Caca-Mut will do to the captain.

“I came in to investigate, and that’s when--”

He starts coughing, like someone choking on his own saliva.

The High Priest gives him a slap in the back--unfortunately, it works.

“That’s when that creature assaulted me! For this affront against me, the Vizier,” he says, shaking his fist in the air, “I want it killed!”

I’m not an “it.” I’m a “he,” and if prudence didn’t dictate that I stay put behind the sarcophagus, I’d show him the proof.

“Caca-Mut,” the High Priest interjects. “Perhaps it was an accident. Let us give the poor beast the benefit of the doubt . . .”

To my astonishment, I find myself suddenly getting up on my hind legs and walking erect out into the open.

I go over to the Vizier and hear myself say, “You kicked me! You threatened me with your staff! I fought back!”

“You walk and talk like a human being!” he says, incredulous. “I am speechless!”

“Speechless? I know how you feel. Till a moment ago I couldn’t talk.”

“You insolent freak! Quiet!”

“I thought you were speechless.”

A burst of laughter resonates in the chamber. A tall young man descends the stairs. He's bare-chested, his short skirt held to his waist by a golden sash. He wears a headdress of striped cloth encircled by a gold band with a gold vulture head and a flaring gold cobra jutting from the front.

He’s still laughing as he approaches the sarcophagus.

“For the love of all the gods,” exclaims the High Priest, “you, you are laughing! You have not laughed since . . .”

“Well, my dear Gato-Hamen, I have never encountered a cat like him before,” says the newcomer, who now stands in front of me.

I’m about to ask him his name when the Vizier yells, “Insolent cat! Kneel in the presence of Pharaoh Maat-Ba.”

“Kneel?! For the first time in my life, I’m upright, and you want me to go back down on the ground?!”

“Kneel!” he commands again. When he sees I’m not moving, he steps behind me. Using his long staff, he pushes my head down into the ground, and my eyes meet the Pharaoh’s feet.

“What big feet you have, Pharaoh,” I say, just before the staff strikes my head.

About the Author
Maria Luisa Lang was born in Rome, Italy, and lives in New York City. She has a degree in art from the City University of New York, and her artwork has been exhibited in New York galleries.

She often returns to Italy to visit her family. She has also stayed for extended periods in Bath and London. She loves all animals and is an amateur Egyptologist. Her love of cats and ancient Egypt inspired her to write two novels about them. The Pharaoh's Cat is her first novel. She has almost completed its sequel, The Lady of Mystery.

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