Horses to Vijayanagar
Written by Monisha Mukundan

Published by Scholastic India Pvt. Ltd.

Fortune favours the brave – those who have the courage to ride into the mouth of danger for the pearl of happiness that awaits the deserving ones. And that’s exactly what this fascinating adventure is all about.

Twelve-year-old Ferdinand and his little sister Manuela live with their elder brother Jose and his wife Esmeralda in a little village, in Goa. Work as hard as they might around the house, they are neither appreciated nor given enough to eat. It’s almost always a thin rice gruel that they get, while Jose and Esmeralda feast on fish curry.

Escape to Freedom []
Escape to Freedom []

Very unhappy living with their brother, the two children are desperate to leave. But Jose does not allow them to leave. He is afraid of what the neighbours might say.

Opportunity presents itself in the form of Gomez, who works as a groom at a rich woman, Dona Flavia’s, casa or villa. He takes pity on the starving children and decides to take them along when delivering some thoroughbred horses to the kingdom of Vijayanagar.

But the journey is wrought with danger of various kinds: the travellers have to cross a thick forest and a river. Most of all, they have to dodge the goons sent by the Sultan of Bijapur, who wants to steal the precious horses…

An excerpt from the book:

Manuela gave a little cry as she lost her hold on Ferdinand’s back. Then she was falling into the darkness. The water was cold and she felt it close over her head. In terror she flung her legs out and tried to reach upward towards the air…She took a great gulp or air and then she was falling again, back into the darkness and the water and the terrible silence of the river. Once again she threw herself up and as her hands thrashed outward, she felt herself caught and held.

Extremely well written and with a finely developed plot, the novel succeeds in capturing the reader’s imagination. So much so that you feel yourself journeying with them, and feeling your heart give a jolt at the sudden smell of danger! Ferdinand and Manuela become dear friends and their misery is shared by the reader. Is there a better life in store for them?

390 words | 3 minutes
Readability: Grade 7 (12-13 year old children)
Based on Flesch–Kincaid readability scores

Filed under: book reviews
Tags: #rivers, #horses

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