“C. L. Francisco’s, A Cat Out of Egypt, is an imaginative and thoughtful tale about Jesus’ years in Egypt. The narrator is Miw, also called ‘Daughter of Fire’ by her people. And she’s a cat. This novel is the prequel to The Gospel According to Yeshua’s Cat (reviewed here by SPR).
Miw is an Egyptian cat from the temple Bubastis. After she learns that corrupt priests are plotting her death she leaves the temple with a priestess of Bast, named Tikos, and they escape to a Jewish village. Here they meet Yeshua and his family. Miw actually fights and kills a deadly scorpion that attacked Yeshua. Yeshua’s family allow Miw and Tikos to stay with them.
Not long after their arrival, Yeshua’s family is warned to leave Egypt and Miw and Tikos join them. However, Egyptian and Roman forces are searching for Miw and some priests who stalked Yeshua at his birth discover him during the hunt for Miw. A Nabataean caravan leader allows Miw, Tikos, Yeshua, and his family to travel with him to Israel. During this journey, Yeshua searches within himself and he learns he possesses many gifts and realizes he understands more than most children his age.
Telling the story through Miw, a cat, is a brilliant way of making religious history more accessible for young readers. By focusing on Miw’s interactions with Yeshua and the surrounding events makes the story more appealing than just citing historical facts and religious beliefs. That doesn’t mean young readers don’t learn from stories they read and that is why this tale so clever. Not only is the author raising theological issues, but she’s describing the environment and historical forces during the time period. And she does so without forcing beliefs on the reader. This maintains the true purpose of the story, which is teaching through entertainment.
Even though this book is intended for young readers it is clever enough to entertain readers of all ages. And it’s not imperative to have a strong background in theology or history. While the author includes a lot of information, it’s done without dumping a lot of facts at once, which is the way historical fiction should be written.
In addition to having a story rich with historical tidbits, the descriptions in the novel brings to life the time period for all readers. For instance many readers probably haven’t ridden a camel through this part of the world. Francisco doesn’t go on and on describing everything but has wonderful passages like this one to transport the reader back in time:
The land we crossed that afternoon was even more wearisome than the drifting sand. The parched plains cracked like brittle stone beneath the camels’ feet. As soon as one valley lay behind us, the dreary peaks of another spine of barren hills rose in our path. The camels stumbled and grunted as they picked their way forward.
This is an entertaining and captivating story that will delight Christian readers no matter their age.
Diane Donovan, Senior Reviewer
A Cat Out of Egypt
C. L. Francisco, PhD
A Cat Out of Egypt is billed as a prequel to Yeshua’s Cat (…not seen by this reviewer), and opens with a prologue that deftly sets the first-person character as cat Miw, called ‘Daughter of Fire’ among her people. Born with the rare ability to communicate with humans, Miw is growing old and thus is motivated to share her story about her encounters with humans she normally eschews and one special human in particular. A Cat Out of Egypt is her story and will attract a range of readers from young adult through adults.
But if you think you’re getting the typical cat’s-eye view of a cat’s life, think again: this story begins with the birth of a baby in a manger, where the magi aren’t the only ones to see a strange star in the sky and wonder. So does the Great Cat Who is Bast, as she gives birth to kittens – and thus begins a journey of transformation and fear: one in which vipers and sacred dancers mingle and portents spark an ancient cat culture to view human events with a new perspective.
As one special cat interacts with young Yeshua and imparts wisdom on what it means to live in a cat’s world, readers are in for a treat that presents Biblical events and times from quite a different (cat-oriented) vantage point wedded to the notion of a Goddess overseeing all, rather than a male God: “The goddess is simply the One who is. And it makes sense. Among cats, mothers feed and care for the young. Fathers go their own ways and care little for their children. If a male cat offers neither love nor sustenance to his kittens, why should a male deity do more?”
Spiritual revolution is in the air and human and cat worlds alike find their focal points in one child who will grow up to change everything: “Who was this child who held the power of life in his hand? Had he spoken truly when he said all gods but the One Creator were lesser gods, unfit to be called by that name? Was her beloved Bast, Flame of the Morning and Mother of Light, no more than a trembling wraith who thinned and vanished before the brilliance of the god Yeshua called the One?”
Sons and mothers, friendships between animal and human, the birthing of kittens and new possibilities, and (most of all) the evolution of a new force in the world saturate a striking blend of spiritual history and feline observation that holds many important spiritual conversations and observations: “I know there was a time when people everywhere knew the face of the Creator. Our scriptures tell us so. But scripture doesn’t explain how they could have forgotten the name of the One who formed them from the dust, and confused him with the small spirits of the Earth. Even the beasts are not so blind. “I wonder if the glory of the One was too great? Perhaps the human heart cries out for a god it can see and touch.”
Enchanting, poetic, engrossing, and vivid, A Cat Out of Egypt is simply a delight, and highly recommended for Christian readers who would gain a different, fictional, cat’s-eye perspective on Jesus’ early experiences and his interactions with the world.
“What an interesting perspective! It was fun to imagine Jesus’ Egypt years and how those years shaped his life and ministry . . . I loved the writing and the journey it took my imagination on.”