I was so excited to learn that my novel had been shortlisted for the 2021 Rubery Prize.
Nile Cat is a thriller set in Victorian and ancient Egypt for Young Adults or the young at Heart! Much of the background detail is drawn from a memoir A Few Egyptian Memories written by my great grandmother, May Tyssen-Amherst concerning her first experiences of Egypt, which she visited when she was just fourteen-years-old.
I came across this document while researching for the biography I am writing on the Tyssen-Amhersts. It was an incredibly exciting discovery as it is rare to find a child’s view of Egypt. She writes about pillow fights in a royal hareem, riding ponies by moonlight along the Chubra Road, nights camping beside the Great Pyramid, and much more. Most British girls were not taken to Egypt until after they were ‘out’, and so in their late teens, or early twenties. If you want to know more then maybe read May Tyssen-Amherst and the Crocodile in the Well.
I have come to know May well over the last few years through reading her travel journals. She was a remarkably intrepid traveller, and recorded her journeying with an artist’s eye and a great sense of humour. As I read her memoir describing her early days in Egypt, I realised what a wonderful starting point for an adventure it would make…
It is 1871. Fourteen-year-old, Rose and her twin sister, Lily set sail for Egypt on board the SS Australia. When Mr John Baxter, an Egyptologist, joins the ship, Rose soon realises that he is following her. Everywhere she goes, there he is too. She knows he wants her dead, but has no idea why. No one else, not even Lily, senses the danger.
The gift of a small stone cat fails to comfort Rose. Now she is haunted by the unfolding story of Miut, an ancient Egyptian temple cat, and Hori, the boy who cares for her. Heteb, High-Priest of the Temple of Osiris has died unexpectedly. To protect the temple from its enemies, he needs his Seal of Power to cast his spells in the afterlife. Hori and Miut must take the Seal to Heteb’s tomb before it is closed. Their path is dark and dangerous – the followers of the god Seth, will stop at nothing to seize the Seal for themselves.
The threads of past and present merge in the streets of Cairo and in the deserts beyond. Rose knows that she has to overcome her fear. She has Mr Baxter to defeat, and a mission to complete. She cannot do it alone. She and Lily must work together. The penalty for failure is death.
Nile Cat is published by Sand Chat Books (28/10/20). It is available on Amazon as a paperback and an eBook (Click this link to buy). It is also available from all good bookshops, online, or otherwise.
“A TERRIFIC YOUNG ADULT THRILLER… SET IN ANCIENT AND VICTORIAN EGYPT” Pat Remler, Egyptologist, author of Egyptian Mythology A- Z
“SET IN EGYPT, THIS IS A COMPELLING ADVENTURE STORY FOR YOUNG ADULTS. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.” The Wishing Shelf Awards Book Review (www.thewsa.co.uk)
There is, I think, a huge market for historical novels for young adults. But finding a good one can be difficult. A lot of them seem rushed to me and the research below par. However, Nile Cat is considerably better than most. For a start, it’s well-written, and has an exciting, adventure-style plot which I think teenagers will very much enjoy. It is also filled with interesting and fun-to-follow characters. Set in Egypt in the 1800s – with a secondary story set way, way, way back in time – this novel will offer young adults many of the things they crave for in a good book.
So, what’s it about ? Well, in a nutshell, the story follows twin girls, Rose and Lily, who embark on an exciting adventure in Egypt involving a carved, stone cat and a sinister fellow by the name of Mr Baxter. There’s also a second story, as Rose is haunted by an ancient Egyptian temple cat and the boy, Hori, who looks after her. What follows is a gripping story involving a number of interesting, well-crafted characters and an Egypt setting which almost jumps off the page.
Now to the important bit. Can I recommend this book? The answer is, yes, very much so. Who to? I suspect most teenagers will find this book enjoyable and, possibly without even knowing it – the best way – educational too. The author has worked so hard to offer the reader a fascinating setting, a complex thriller, and a set of characters you’ll be sad to say goodbye to. I just hope there’s going to be a sequel.’
A ‘Wishing Shelf’ Book Review – www.thewsa.co.uk