Title: The Scorpio Races
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: October 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 416 Pages
ISBN-10: 054522490X (Scholastic/Point)
ISBN-13: 978-0545224901 (Scholastic/Point)
Reviewed by: Emmy
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.
Quick & Dirty: This novel has moving prose, wonderful characters and world-building, and a gripping plot to keep you reading!
Opening Sentence: It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.
Kate “Puck” Connely and her two brothers are orphans fighting to save their home. They’ll do anything to keep bread on the table. But when Benjamin Malvern threatens to take away their home and her brother Gabe starts thinking of leaving the island for the mainland, Puck enters herself into the Scorpio Races to save not only her home but to keep her family together.
The story centers around the water horses called the capaill uisce. They’re responsible for the deaths of Puck’s parents, and their the animal she’ll have to ride in the Races. Stiefvater is delving deeper into the fantasy genre in this story to create an amazing world that really revolves around the capaill uisce. There are human narrators but the greatest characters in the story are the capaill uisce and the island of Thisby itself. We get to see all the struggles on the island, the hardships people face by living there help make it seem like a real place. People die in the Races. Either because their too slow or too trusting of their capaill uisce, who are stunningly beautiful but wild animals all the same. Every year as the citizens of Thisby prepare for the Races in November they also have to deal with the pain of loss and grief that inevitably will come. Sean Kendrick, the other narrator of the story, has won the races before. Four times, to be exact. He’s won money and the respect of the people, spending his time working for Benjamin Malvern and his obnoxious son. But the race is even more important this year. If he can win one last time he’ll be able to buy the only thing holding him to the island, his capaill uisce Corr. Sean is filled with wisdom about the horses, and his relationship with Corr is absolutely, hands down, my favorite part of the book.
But where Sean is the quiet one, Puck holds her own against the crap other men throw at her for entering the race. The girl is stubborn and her attitude makes for a great female lead in the story. If you’re hoping for a page burning romance though, you’re going to be disappointed. The development of the relationships in this novel, both between the humans and their horses, becomes as important to the story as the characters become to each other.
Stiefvater wasn’t afraid to tackle hard issues in this novel. She didn’t skirt around the problems evoked by gender or class in the story. The story feels timeless, which adds to the weight of it as a part of the fantasy genre. The theme of loyalty is incredibly important as the characters become more involved with danger, romance and some mild violence. All of these elements make the story both enchanting and horrific as her truly beautiful prose sinks in.
Just to get them all out alive would be a feat. Just to get the horse down to the shore and release it far enough into the ocean that we could get away safe would be impressive. But I can do more than just get them away safe, and they all know it, Mutt Malvern most of all.
But I whisper like the sea in the horse’s ear and take a step back from the roving flashlights. One step away from all of them, one step toward the ocean. My sock wicks the tide into my boot. The gray horse is trembling under my hands.
I turn to look at Mutt, and then I let the horse go.
FTC Advisory: Scholastic provided me with a copy of The Scorpio Races. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. In addition, I don’t receive affiliate fees for anything purchased via links from my site.
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