Milly's Reviews > The Scorpio Races

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
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's review
Jul 18, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2011, alternating-pov, arc, fantasy, kick-ass-heroine, magic, street-corners-book-tour, young-adult, water-horses
Recommended to Milly by: Flannery, Street Corner gang
Recommended for: Maggie Stiefvater fans, fantasy lovers
Read in September, 2011

4.5 Stars
ARC Review

I am surprised that Scorpio Races is getting such mixed reviews because I was enchanted by it! It is by far my most favorite book from Maggie Stiefvater. The magic that emanated from the book just enveloped me and I couldn't seem to put this book down! I was intrigued and captivated by the deadly water horses, by Thisby, and the interesting and intriguing characters particularly Sean, Puck, and Puck's brother, Finn.

But what really entranced and awed me were the contrasting images and personalities in this book that seem to harmonize so well and produce such a well-written story, which I admired Maggie Stiefvater for. For example, the water horses are such contradictions. They are both beautiful and fascinating but at the same time deadly and sinister. And people of Thisby still pursue to ride them during the Scorpio Races knowing full well that they could easily eat them for snack if one didn't know how to ride and handle them. And then there are our protagonists, Sean Kendrick and Kate(Puck)Connolly, who are both tough as rocks and independent but at the same time care so deeply for the people and animals that they love. They hide behind these tough facades and try to appear to others that they are fearless and unwavering when deep inside they are lonely and seek the approval and love of family and friends. And then there's Thisby, the island that has lost so many lives from the water horses and people who have migrated to the mainland for better lives, appear so bleak and dreary especially during the cold months of October and November, could be so magical and special that it is the only place that the water horses come to and visit when they leave the ocean. It is all these contrasts, like a balancing act of Yin and Yang, that dazzled me and impressed me. It was this idea over and over again that comes to mind every time I read a page or so. I was just amazed over and over again.

I was delighted that Maggie Stiefvater decided to write about water horses. I don't know much about it and it is a breath of fresh air to read about these mythical creatures. It always brings you back to your childhood and all the stories you hear growing up about mythical creatures, both scary and intriguing. But, water horses that are deadly and eat flesh is scary and somewhat romantic in a twisted sort of way. No different from zombie unicorns that's for sure. But these water horses, capall uisce (pronounced as CAPple ISHka per Maggie), particularly Corr, were beautiful and colorful! It was like My Little Pony and Friends all over again. I would have loved a green horse for myself. I loved reading about them and about the world-building that Maggie did in describing them and Thisby. Though I was a little confused at first trying to figure out the time period and where this fabled Thisby could be. It sounded like possibly Ireland but I could never be sure. But I definitely thought the time period was early. When did they make Morrises? Between the 20s to the 50s? I'm not very familiar with British cars but it was this car that Finn, Puck's brother drove. It was kind of a hodgepodge of sorts and I'm still baffled about the time period. Although, based from the little romance that was in this book, I deduced that the time period could be early on as people were not as obvious with their feelings and emotions, much more restrained or reserved, but then again, maybe it's an Irish thing or a Catholic thing.

I do love the relationship between Sean and his water horse, Corr. Corr is definitely Sean's best friend even if it was the horse that killed Sean's father 9 or 10 years ago during the Scorpio Races. It reminds me of the trainers at Sea World who put their lives at risk when they work with killer whales knowing full well the danger that is involved with working with these creatures. It's a balancing and scary task but it is something that these trainers love doing and I'm sure along the way that they develop relationships with these deadly creatures. The ending of Scorpio Racesreally touched me. Even these deadly water horses have a potential to love and care for their masters, just like Corr did. The respect and love he has for Sean was touching and it moved me to tears.

As for our protagonists, Sean and Puck, I could see why these are such hardened and serious individuals at the age of 19 years old. Both were orphaned early on. Sean's father died during the Scorpio Races when he was 10 and his mother left when he was just a little boy for the mainland. Puck and his brothers were orphaned when both parents died fishing and most possibly taken by water horses. So, living on their own, making a living as best as they can, have tempered them. After Sean's father died, he was taken in by Benjamin Malvern, the richest person in Thisby and the owner of a ranch and stable. However, Benjamin did not raise him like a son but rather as one of his ranch hands and so Sean's lived pretty much on his own in the ranch. He only knew to care and love the horses, which he was very good at. He is the horse whisperer to both the regular horses and the water horses on the island and has won 4 of the Scorpio Races. This year, Sean wants to win the races so he could buy Corr from his boss Malvern once and for all. Puck on the other hand is riding the races initially in the hopes of preventing his older brother, Gabe, from leaving the island but eventually to save their house from getting taken from Malvern. It is during the practice runs that these two meet and play horse together.

This close, he's almost too severe to be handsome: sharp-edged cheekbones and razor-edge nose and dark eyebrows. His hands are bruised and torn from his time with the capaill uisce. Like the fisherman on the island, his eyes are permanently narrowed against the sun and the seal. He looks like a wild animal. Not a friendly one.

My mother always said that I was born out of a bottle of vinegar instead of born from a womb and that she and my father bathed me in sugar for three days to wash it off. I try to behave, but I always go back to the vinegar." - Puck Connolly

I was surprisingly pleased to see that the romance in this book was not the main focus of the story. Though there were heart-melting moments, I liked that the romance and love was quiet and understated between the two lovers. I also liked that it was slow burning and almost innocent-like and that the characters weren't painted to be heart-breakingly beautiful but more believable, like you or me. Their hearts didn't skip a beat when they saw each other because of how each other looked but how each other behaved and treated others, and how both loved horses and the island. When Sean came to visit carrying a loaf of bread, I thought that was the cutest thing. It was a such a Peeta moment! But what moved me the most was how they were both selfless, willing to let the other person win, if it came to that point. Selfless and unconditional love, the best there is.

(view spoiler)

And then there was Puck and her brothers. Her relationship with her little brother, Finn, made me miss my little brother. The way she looked after him and her willingness to join the races to save the house when knowing fully well that this could kill her, was touching. Her devotion to her brothers was admirable and impressive. I also loved the way she stood up for herself and how fearless she was to race among men on their water horses while she being the only woman and the only one on a regular horse. She's ballsy and kick-ass!

But Finn is the person that intrigued me the most. I'm not quite sure what to make of him. He has OCD tendencies, doesn't like the attention and couldn't take compliments well, and is somehow able to tell the weather, and is good tinkering with his hands. But one thing's for sure, he loves and cares for his sister and brother. And I think out of all the characters in this book, he cares and loves the hardest. Sweet guy.

But the one that entertained me the most was George Holly, the American. I loved how he sort of played cupid and how he tried to help Sean. He's sort of like a guardian angel sent to Thisby to bring color to the place and guide Sean and Puck along the way.

I had a great time reading Scorpio Races and I'm thankful for my good friend, Flannery, for touring this ARC! Thank you so much! Definitely one of the best books I've read all year!

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message 1: by Flannery (new) - added it

Flannery So glad you liked it, Milly:) Great review!

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