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.