The Cats of Rekem, by C. L. Francisco
“We are the cats of Rekem, descended from the sacred cats of the Egyptian temple of Bast. We bear the Mother’s gift of language, passed down since the days before time began, so that we might speak our wisdom into the minds of the troubled human race. We gather here to honor Yeshua ben Yosef, friend of cats—He Who Brings Life to the Earth—whose light shines upon all flesh, animal and human alike.”
The Cats of Rekem opens in the fabled city of Rekem (Petra, Jordan), capital of ancient Nabataea, destroyed by earthquake and swallowed up by desert sands long ago. Francisco brings Rekem to swirling, glittering life, in a kaleidoscopic pageant of exotic characters from a lost culture that reached its peak during the days of Jesus of Nazareth. On the fringes of Rekem’s urban clamor, cats quietly sun themselves, eavesdropping and speaking their thoughts into human minds as the need arises.
25 years have passed in Rekem since the child Yeshua’s rescue (in A Cat Out of Egypt) by Zaidan, a powerful caravan master, and Tikos, an Egyptian priestess fleeing Egypt with a pregnant temple cat from Bubastis. Tikos and Zaidan have married. The Egyptian cats have interbred with wild cats from the hills, and their descendants settled throughout the city with their chosen humans.
In an age of relentless empire building, the independent Nabataeans stubbornly hold to their own traditions, defying the advancing Roman Empire and Israel’s grasping Herod Antipas. Yet Rekem is increasingly caught up in the tide of strange new religions sweeping through the Roman world. Although Zaidan, Tikos, and their family worship Yeshua’s One God and cherish ties with the risen Yeshua, the dark mysteries of Isis seduce their daughter Hinat into the goddess’ temple. When Tikos steps in to protect Hinat, King Aretas is enraged by her insult to the gods who stand behind his throne. All of Zaidan’s clan lie beneath the threat of his simmering wrath.
Into this turmoil stumbles a bemused young Apostle Paul, smuggled out of Damascus by Zaidan’s sons, Yeshua’s cat Mari, and Mary Magdalene. Still reeling from his vision on the Damascus road, Paul is painfully confused about what his new life will mean. But his arrival in Rekem attracts the palace’s attention, loosing a flood of scandal and violence that endangers everyone around him . . . as well as threatening his own future before it can even begin.