Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Scorpio Races

by Maggie Stiefvater 
Read: October, 2011
Category: YA
Source: Library book (I've since bought a kindle version, though I'd like a hardback as well). Also, after reading The Scorpio Races, I listened to the audio book and it made me LOVE the story even MORE if that's possible. The readers are EXCELLENT, and I'd highly recommend it. 

It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

I grew up reading books about horses and the people who love them. I hadn’t read one in a long time, until I discovered The Scorpio Races. And then I read it and remembered how much I love books that feature horses. This one is no exception, or perhaps it is an exception, because of how much I wanted to eat up the interactions between Sean Kendrick and his horse Corr. Oh my goodness, I couldn’t get enough of those chapters. But Corr is no ordinary horse. He is carnivorous and will EAT you if you get too close. Yes, you heard that right. The horses or capaill uisce as they are properly called, are a creature loosely based on myth. They like blood, live in the sea and are far more dangerous than any horse you or I will ever meet.  But if you can capture one and "tame" it enough to climb on it's back, you are in for the fastest ride of your life. 

Sean is the reigning champion of the Scorpio Races, which take place each November on a small island called Thisby (ambiguously located). I have a bit of a crush on Sean. Okay, maybe a BIG crush on Sean. The way that he was described – his few words, his surety without cockiness, his stillness – and the way he related to his wild water horse was magnificent. 

I also loved that Sean was so similar to and yet very different from Puck, the stubborn girl who is determined to race, despite a million reasons why she shouldn't. Where Sean is silent and still, Puck is messy and impulsive, but they are both bound to the island. And she unsettles him and it's a wonderful thing to witness. About Puck, Sean says, “She’s both a mirror of myself and a door to part of this island that I’m not.” Books with romance that is subtle but certain are always my favorite and this one does it so well. There are so many good characters in this story beyond Sean and Puck - Finn, George Holly, Dory Maud even the Malverns. 

I will say though that this book is a bit slow to start and Puck and Sean’s stories spend a lot of time running parallel to each other, when I just wanted them to connect. But watching something slowly build between them was beautiful to see and well worth the effort to get into the story. Maggie Stiefvater is a master at small, seemingly insignificant scenes that tell you vast things about her characters. There were many that I went back to and read again and again.

I was a little unsettled by the lack of a descriptive geographic location (beyond an island) or definitive time period. Though I’m guessing it’s sometime early-mid twentieth century on an island off Britain. The one thing that did really bother me was the complete lack of talk about any sort of school, even if they only attended in the past (strange, I know).

Love Triangle Factor: NONE!
Note: This is a great book for all ages, even younger teens. A friend of mine even used it for a middle school book group. 

*If you have read this book and would like to discuss it in detail, please see my Scorpio Races Discussion Post*


  1. "Maggie Stiefvater is a master at small, seemingly insignificant scenes that tell you vast things about her characters"

    YES! Gosh, I love this book and Steifvater's writing. It's like no other. Your review mirrors mine (though yours is much more concise, mine tends to ramble) I love the subtle romance, and I love Sean. I love how the island is a character as much as Sean and Puck. And I love that damn horse, Corr! I'm not a typical reader of "horse" themed books, but Corr holds a special place in my heart!)

    check this out:


    That's Maggie! More on her website:http://maggiestiefvater.blogspot.com/2012/07/what-i-did-on-my-summer-vacation.html

  2. Okay I think I fixed the link. I'm still getting used to this blogging thing. And thanks for being my first commenter! You're the best!

    Yeah. I adore Sean and Corr. I hope they're happy somewhere together. WIth Puck. One of my favorite scenes in the book was when the storm hit and Sean takes Corr outside to scare off the other water horses. Water's dripping everywhere and he keens to Corr who talks back. I get chills thinking about it. Such a beautiful scene. And how important it is to Sean that Puck likes Corr...Oh I could talk about this book for ages.

    Also, I love what you said about the island being a character. Very true. And though I'd love to find Thisby and visit someday ;), I don't think I could live there like Puck and Sean.

    WOW Maggie is very artistic! She also did the music for the audio book. Though YIKES for whatever made her itchy. Yucko.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...