“This is Anne Hambleton's debut novel. She is a retired, amateur steeplechase jockey so she knows a lot about the world of horses. Raja is a stunning colt who has everything going for him: good looks, extraordinary speed, stellar characteristics, a Thoroughbred of noble lines, and people around...”see full review » see other reviews »
“This is Anne Hambleton's debut novel. She is a retired, amateur steeplechase jockey so she knows a lot about the world of horses. Raja is a stunning colt who has everything going for him: good looks, extraordinary speed, stellar characteristics, a Thoroughbred of noble lines, and people around who respect and love him. Yes, the world seems to be a very happy place to be, until one day a terrible thunderstorm blows across the pasture of the farm and a bolt of lightning kills his mother right in front of him. This tragedy leaves him shaken to his core and badly traumatized throughout his entire life. Every time a thunderstorm erupts thereafter, Raja blindly bounds off, out of control, causing him ultimately to terminate his career as a racehorse and get a chance at running in the Kentucky Derby.
His life spirals downward as he is sold again and again. He experiences many new masters, new training lessons and new locations, not all of them up to thoroughbred standards. Raja manages to meet people along the way who see his outstanding qualities and potential. They are willing to rescue, retrain and restore him due to the greatness he possesses. The story is narrated through the eyes of the horse and his horse friends have the ability to converse to him also. You feel such empathy for Raja and you find yourself cheering him on no matter where he finds himself. The author is very adept at detailing how to care for a horse, how the racing world works and the nightmares of being auctioned off or being loaded up knowing you're heading off to become horsemeat. Raja is a book you cannot put down because you befriend this little colt from the very beginning and you walk with him through his highs and lows. You read on eagerly because you cannot wait to find out what ultimately happens to him.
The illustrator is a professional sculptor and horsewoman and her accompanying pencil drawings are a nice visual for the tale. The book has added value as a glossary of horse-world terms gives the reader greater understanding of the terms used in the book. Raja won the "Mom's Choice Award" Honoring Excellence and I think you if you enjoy a good animal story you will really enjoy this one.