Book Reviews

[review] The Scorpio Races – Maggie Stiefvater

Release Date: October 18, 2011
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 404
Format: Hardcover
Source: Finished copy from Scholastic Canada

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.

Discovery: I was iffy about reading this book, and when a review copy arrived at my doorstep, I decided to take the plunge. [Note: I won’t really be talking about the plot, because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. Believe me, this is the highest compliment I can give a story.]

+     Setting. Ireland is one of my favourite places in the world, and The Scorpio Races just blows all my previous fantasies of rich shores and beautiful hills out of the water (pun intended). Thisby Island is one of the most unique locations I’ve come across in literature. It may seem scrappy at first, but Thisby is a strong island, with people who believe in daring fate to do her worst. They are connected to the island in ways that even they can’t see, and as someone who moved around a lot during her childhood, those roots were fascinating to explore. Puck and Sean’s home gives birth to the capaill uisce the same way it does the people of the island, with rough waves and foam that will stay in the minds and eyes of readers everywhere.

+     Writing style. Full disclosure–I did not enjoy the Wolves of Mercy Falls series. The language just didn’t evoke any real emotion or connection to the story, and I have yet to crack open my copy of Forever. That said, I was swept away by Maggie Stiefvater’s writing in this novel. There are too many gorgeous lines to quote, but I’ll mention my favourite (which appeared early on):

Everything in me says to abandon the struggle. Fly with her into the water.

Threes. Sevens. Iron across my palm.

I whisper: “You will not be the one to drown me.”

Stiefvater’s prose is stark, but it takes flight in different ways for each character. Sean is a no-nonsense boy who is determined to make his own path; Puck is a girl afraid to dream. There are times when reading this book felt like prying open their souls, and all the credit goes to the beautiful language. Even the capaill uisce gallop through the pages, their heartbeats just out of earshot in each sentence’s careful rhythm. Novels like The Scorpio Races remind me of why I fell in love with literature–there is no better feeling than being led into a world so beautifully sketched out that you forget to breathe.

Recommendations: Stories like this don’t come along every year. Definitely add The Scorpio Races to your wishlists and gift a copy to your favourite reader.

Rating: Excellent.

Go visit Maggie Stiefvater at her website and follow her on Twitter @mstiefvater.

You can check out The Scorpio Raceson Goodreads and order it over at Amazon and Book Depository.

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5 replies »

  1. I saw this a while ago and have been moving it up my to read list. I’m really looking forward to checking it out and this review just helped move it up a few notches 🙂

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