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The Scorpio Races Hardcover – October 18, 2011
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From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Shiver and Linger comes a brand new, heart-stopping novel.
With her trademark lyricism, Maggie Stiefvater turns to a new world, where a pair are swept up in a daring, dangerous race across a cliff--with more than just their lives at stake should they lose.
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Top Customer Reviews
The water horses are a race of beings that live in the water, emerging to feed on flesh or drag you to a watery death. The thought makes me shiver.
Every year, riders mount these monstrous beasts for the Scorpio Races. It’s hard enough to win a regular horse race. In this race, you have to worry about surviving as much as winning.
The character’s are numerous and very genuine. Puck is a young lass willing to risk her life in the races. She lost her parents to the water horses, and now her older brother is leaving her and her younger brother Finn to fend for themselves. The money from the race would help save their home.
Sean and his stallion, Corr, are four time winners of the races. He’ll ride again this year, but the stakes are much higher.
Puck and Sean have a growing attraction for each other. But both must win the race.
I so loved this world and the character’s that galloped through the pages, human and other. I wanted this one to win. And that one to win. This one to stay. That one to stay. I feared the worst and hoped for the best.
This story is so much more than a race. I struggle to even tell you about it. There’s desperation and hope, bravery and honor, magic and danger. And I couldn’t have asked for a better final scene.
The story is intriguing...the Scorpio Races are races set on a small island (fictional, but it feels a lot like an Irish offshore island) between Cappaill Uisce, the water horses of Celtic folklore. These are no Disney water horses...they eat meat, drink blood and kill. Each other, and humans. But the island, Thisby, and the horses are connected in ways modern man has trouble understanding. They have ancient blood ties past remembering. Two of the contenders in this years race are Sean Kendricks, and Puck Connelly.
Sean has been working with the Cappaill Uisce since he was a boy. Described by the islanders as having "one foot on land, and one in the sea" he has won the races for the past four years on a stallion named Corr. He loves Corr deeply, and the horses in his charge love him and his magic.
Puck is an orphaned girl who is riding in the races for the first time, as the first woman to compete. She is also riding her mundane island horse, Dove, rather than one of the Cappaill Uisce...another first. She is hindered in her efforts by almost everyone on the island. Everyone but Sean, who is drawn to her for reasons he cannot explain.
The two face many obstacles. Chief among them is Mutt Malvern, the cruel son of the richest man on the island (and Sean's employer). Another hurdle they must face is that each has desperate reasons for needing to win the race, but to do that, they must beat the person they are growing to love. The love story is awkward and terribly sweet.
I can't really put my finger on what I find so compelling about this book. The story is unique, and the slight tinge of magic over everything on Thisby adds a delightful air of mystery. Its written by a YA author, which may be the reason the love story is so muted and delicious. We don't have sex to rely on making the story interesting. The writing must carry the story.
And the writing is superb. The suspense simply never lets up. One is completely drawn in by the two immensely likable main characters, and many of the lesser characters deserve their own book: Finn and George Holly are two I would love to read more about. The rituals and traditions surrounding the races are unsettling, yet have the feel of ancient rhythms and rites. Stiefvater has an unswervingly deft hand in her timing and the pace of the story feels just right. The conclusion is a surprise, albeit one that satisfactorily resolves the dilemma of the two protagonists.
I was rather haunted by the story. I found myself thinking a lot about the story and the characters during the first read, and even the second. Sean, in particular caught my imagination. He is mysterious and magical and immensely attractive. Again, Ms Stiefvater reveals just enough of his background to help explain him, but we never fully understand him.
I will definitely read more by the author. I don't usually read YA novels, but this one is so exceptional that I too will make an exception.
As for this book: the writing was very accessible and the whole water horse thing was new to me, I didn't even know that they were already a thing until after I finished the book. As a whole, I think that the characters were a little underdeveloped, particularly the boys. Stiefvater definitely writes a better girl character. In fact, I think the whole novel was catered heavily towards women. Not a complaint, just an observation. I'm curious to see if the next novel will have the same feel to it.
Characters aside, the story itself was good. It had a little love, some sorrow, a few stabbings, and lots of horses. It was a fun read and I will definitely recommend it to my niece--it's well-suited towards her age group.
One last thing... it includes a recipe for November cakes at the end of book. I'm super stoked about it, I'm gonna have to get all Betty Crocker with it ASAP.
I gave it four instead of five stars because, well, I'm stingy with my five stars and I felt like it took a bit to hit it's stride in the beginning. It was worth the wait, though. I think this book is categorized as YA, but it's appropriate for anyone who appreciates good story-telling.