Title : Hunt for the Horseman
Author : Gita Reddy
Amrita Mahal is a dream palace which got constructed more than a century ago under the supervision of the then queen. Surrounded by lush green hills, overlooking a scenic lake, the vista made for a perfect location for the royalty to set their abode at. Though the family was no longer a royalty, post India's status as a republic, yet the palace remained the family home for the extended branches of the lineage.
The queen wanted the palace to be unparalleled and to achieve that, she got many secret compartments made in the palace for sheer delight and fascination. The secretly hidden compartments were at all imaginable or unimaginable places, and the same continued to mesmerize generations after generations. No one generation could claim to have explored the whole palace. This belief got accentuated by the fact that some hundred and twenty five years ago, prince Surya Bhanu had hidden a toy - a horseman, from his brother, somewhere in one of these compartments in the palace. Since then no one had succeeded in finding it. Over the years, this search had turned into the elusive treasure hunt game which had been played by every generation of the royal family.
This year it is a special royal family gathering at the palace, with more than hundred and fifty family members gathered in the Amrita Mahal. Twelve year old Sandy, who lives in US is a little apprehensive about meeting such an extended family and being in a palace, she would rather be in US where she belongs. But all her misgivings just frizzled out the moment she got a warm and loving welcome from the inmates of the palace. They all are made aware of the fact that this could be the last family gathering at the palace as the palace was soon to go from the holds of the family to the land mafia. The family is trying hard to fight the battle in court but they are missing one document which is supposedly the main document that could prove the ownership of the palace.
Though the clouds of uncertainty and sadness loom large on the palace and the family, yet the members are not ready to give in to the gloominess. They want to make this last stay in the palace a memorable one and to continue the tradition of the treasure hunt, the children want to hunt for the horseman. This time their search is much more organised, thanks to a computer pro kid who has designed a software to implement the search in the most systematic and methodical manner. The search has all elements of entertainment - thrill, mystery, adventure, mishaps, euphoric moments and much more. Are the children able to find the horseman? What happens to Amrita Mahal? Is everyone safe there when mafia has put the palace in their radar list?
Found this book a great read for pre-teens and young adults. When the bookshelves are getting deluged with books with more and more adult topics creeping in this genre, such books come as a whiff of fresh air. With engaging narrative and tight editing, the adventurous plot takes the readers on the roller coaster ride. The plot grows beautifully right from the first page. Number of characters do make the narrative a little overwhelming but then one gets more interested in the proceedings of the story. Though the end is a little predictable but the whole build-up which leads to that end is pretty enjoyable.
Personally I have kept this as a special treat for my own children for the last day of their term exams.