Cat mummies. Let’s take a moment out of our busy days to ponder these two words together, shall we? It’s no joke. According to this Wikipedia article, Cats in Ancient Egypt, it was common for ancient Egyptians to mummify cats. Thousands have been uncovered, reports this National Geographic article.The Egyptians went to this trouble because they held cats in such high esteem. I had never thought about animal mummification until I read The Golden Scarab, The Quest Series, Book 1 , by S.W. Lothian, (2012, 236 pages). In this book, the three main characters visit the Temple of Bast which is dedicated to the worship of cats and stumble across a pile of entombed felines!
Goodreads summary of The Golden Scarab:
A simple day at the museum turns into to an edge-of-your-seat roller-coaster ride into the past. A museum Mummy in deep distress recruits JJ Sterling, and his best buddy, Linc, to head back in time to Ancient Egypt. Along with new pal, Rani, it’s up to the three of them to locate the mysterious Golden Scarab and save history.
A long-time feud between two ancient brothers, Seth and Horus, looks set to end the fragile peace in Egypt. It’s time for our young heroes to rise up and conquer evil. Their perilous quest leads them on a race through scorching deserts, and temples full of amazing hidden chambers that are bursting with unexpected traps. All the while, an army of living statues called Uberdiles are determined to stop them. If the three kids fail, the impact on the future would be a disaster for everyone … including you.
This is the first in a series of three books, with a fourth in the works. I liked the friendship of the characters in the book. J.J. and Sterling are best friends and live in modern-day Australia. Rani is a girl their age from Aswan, a city in Egypt. I couldn’t tell if she was from the present or some period in the past. What was clear is that she led a much simpler life than J.J. and Sterling, without modern conveniences. Perhaps my favorite aspect of the book was the way Rani often had a different reaction to events than the boys to because of their different backgrounds.
There was a lot of magic happening in the desert to Rani, J.J. and Sterling, such as walls arising out of the sand, angry statues coming to life, and protective force fields forming around the three kids. I tend to like my magic in books in smaller doses, but for those who enjoy plots full of bad guys (or in this case evil crocodile statues and Seth, the god of the desert) chasing good guys, this book might fit the bill. The trio travels around Egypt, and I enjoyed when they visited places I have seen, such as Aswan, and the Nile. At one point the three kids have to navigate their way through a 3-D maze, a concept which seems terrifying.
In addition to spacing errors, I counted over forty grammatical errors, including sentence fragments, tense errors, and misspellings. I hope Lothian took the time to find a good editor for his other books!
What I Learned about Ancient Egypt
- The god Seth was bad news.
- Bast was a cat goddess.
- Cats were not usually pets in ancient Egypt but rather wandered around outside. Communities supported the cats living among them because it was believed a person would have good luck if he gave food and water to a cat.
If your interest if piqued, check out S.W.’s lively author website.
For links to many other middle grade book reviews, go to the Marvelous Middle Grade Monday section of Shannon Messenger’s blog.