The Eye of Nefertiti, by Maria Luisa Lang - 3 Stars
Now I have to say that talking cats aren’t really my thing because I gravitate to explanations rather than magic. Don’t do it, says Lynn Truss in her oft’ quoted splurge in the ghastly Guardian “Top Ten Cats in Literature” https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/dec/07/top-10-cats-in-literature
However, there are millions of cat lovers and only one of me, so I find myself outvoted and I have to admit that Paul Gallico (Jennie, Thomasina, The Silent Miow), Terry Pratchett (The Amazing Maurice), Lewis Carroll (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland) and G.A. Henty (The Cat of Bubastes, 1889) know more about giving the public what they want than I will ever do. When you put Egyptology into the mix though, it reminds me more of the children’s film Treasure Buddies, with its talking Labrador puppies and Raiders of the Lost Ark imagery, which suggests to me that this sort of thing naturally fits into the children’s section.
This book, the second in a series, is intended for an audience slightly older than that initial assumption, so it’s perhaps young adult or beyond. It’s clearly written by and for an audience who like their cats and probably talk to them or imagine they have the re-incarnated souls of interesting beings from the past. Does that describe you? It’s fair to say that doesn’t describe everyone, so perhaps it shouldn’t have fallen to me to rate it.
The story involves time travel in a spinning boat, a magical gift bestowed by ancient divinities and takes Nefertiti beyond her regular context and lets her interact as a fictional dame. It isn’t just about explaining the missing wall eye from her famous bust (which is beautiful, by the way), it’s using her as a romantic character which interacts with a much longer span of history.
If you like the story of Akhenaten the sun-worshipping pharaoh, the short-lived monotheistic religion he founded to over-throw the old and the city named after him (now called Amarna), this might be the book for you. It’s a light-touch take on that failed revolution but shows it from the human angle, how disrespecting the old ways caused a rift that up with the priesthood would not put.
I thought the best thing about this from a non-cat owner’s perspective was the descriptive passages about ancient temples and their decorative influences. The book was like something that once was deep but today shouldn’t be taken too seriously, like walking around an old site with a well-informed tour guide for an hour or two and spinning your parasol on a sunny day.