Chachic's Reviews > The Scorpio Races

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
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Nov 02, 14

bookshelves: ebooks, best-of-2011, bought-while-on-vacation
Recommended to Chachic by: Angie
Read from November 09 to 12, 2011

November 2014: Reread it this year when November 1 came around. Just as good as I remembered. I still think this is Maggie Stiefvater's best book so far.

November 2011 review: Originally posted here.

I enjoyed reading Maggie Stiefvater's books in the past but it wasn't until I saw glowing reviews from blogging buddies and Goodreads friends that I became really curious about The Scorpio Races. It sounds different from anything else that she's written and Maggie herself said that this is her favorite out of all of her books. How's that for encouragement? I couldn't pass up reading this one and I like that it's a standalone novel.

Sigh, what a lovely, lovely book this turned out to be. It's the best Maggie Stiefvater novel that I've read and if you haven't read any of her books, I recommend that you start with this one. The novel is narrated from alternating points of view - Puck or Kate Connolly's and Sean Kendrick's. Both are entered to compete in the deadly Scorpio Races, the annual event featuring water horses or capaill uisce. These terrifying water horses come out of the ocean only in the island of Thisby and unlike their land counterparts, they live on flesh and blood and love to hunt moving targets. A few islanders can tame them enough to ride them to the races, Sean is the most gifted when it comes to handling the water horses. Puck is the most unusual contestant in the race because she's the first girl to enter and she's riding her regular island pony, Dove, instead of a water horse. It was easy enough to like Puck - she's a prickly character but brave when she needs to be and she'd do anything for her two brothers. She joins the race to discourage her older brother, Gabe, from leaving the island. While I've always lived in the city and can't relate to the small town life in Thisby, I can understand how Puck feels about her homeland. To live in a place that's not easy to love, a crazy place with wild typhoons or storms, a place that friends and family would rather leave so they can find better opportunities somewhere else. Yeah, that sounds pretty familiar. And The Scorpio Races is just as much about Thisby as it is about the water horses. Sean shares the same fondness for their homeland. When asked why he doesn't leave, he answers with, "The sky and the sand and the sea and Corr." Remove the Corr bit (although I wouldn't say no to a magical water horse of my own) and that is exactly why I love the beaches in the Philippines.

I loved how the romance developed in this book, the pacing was perfect. It's the best kind of slow burn, filled with intense, meaningful glances and one-liners that go straight to the heart. I ate it all up and savored all the scenes between Puck and Sean. These two are so very different from each other - one is feisty while the other is a quiet sort of person - but they also have so much in common. They're tied by their love for Thisby and how they both care for their respective horses - the loyal Dove, for Puck and the blood-red, unpredictable water horse, Corr, for Sean. Both of them are orphans and because they've had to fend for themselves, they seem older than their teenage years. But I don't mean to imply that the focus of the story is the romance because it really isn't. Like I said, The Scorpio Races is about the island of Thisby, its people (viewed through the eyes of Puck and Sean) and the horses that they love. I know next to nothing about horses, I think I've only ridden a horse once in my entire life, but that didn't keep me from being fully immersed in this novel. The Scorpio Races may not be for everyone (I've seen mixed reviews) but it makes me happy that it worked out for me. Beautifully written, it sucked me in and didn't let go until I reached the end. One of my favorite books read this year, I recommend it to fans of horse stories and subtle romances.

Here's an excerpt from one of the scenes from Sean's point of view:
“As the sun shines low and red across the water, I wade into the ocean. The water is still high and brown and murky with the memory of the storm, so if there’s something below it, I won’t know it. But that’s part of this, the not knowing. The surrender to the possibilities beneath the surface. It wasn’t the ocean that killed my father, in the end. The water is so cold that my feet go numb almost at once. I stretch my arms out to either side of me and close my eyes. I listen to the sound of water hitting water. The raucous cries of the terns and the guillemots in the rocks of the shore, the piercing, hoarse questions of the gulls above me. I smell seaweed and fish and the dusky scent of the nesting birds onshore. Salt coats my lips, crusts my eyelashes. I feel the cold press against my body. The sand shifts and sucks out from under my feet in the tide. I’m perfectly still. The sun is red behind my eyelids. The ocean will not shift me and the cold will not take me.”


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Quotes Chachic Liked

Maggie Stiefvater
“In the middle of all this, as Sean slips out of his jacket, he looks over his shoulder at me and he smiles at me, just a glancing, faint thing before he turns back to Tommy. I'm quite happy for that smile, because Dad told me once you should be grateful for the gifts that are the rarest.”
Maggie Stiefvater, The Scorpio Races

Maggie Stiefvater
“It's for personal reasons," I say stiffly, which is what my mother had always told me to say about things that had to do with fighting with your brothers, getting any sort of illness that had intestinal ramifications, starting your period, and money.”
Maggie Stiefvater, The Scorpio Races

Maggie Stiefvater
“Do you know how to wrap a leg?'
'I was born wrapping legs,' I say stiffly, because I'm insulted.
'Must've been a challenging delivery,' Sean notes.”
Maggie Stiefvater, The Scorpio Races

Maggie Stiefvater
“Tell me what it's like. The race."

"What it's like is a battle. A mess of horses and men and blood. The fastest and strongest of what is left from two weeks of preparation on the sand. It's the surf in your face, the deadly magic of November on your skin, the Scorpio drums in the place of your heartbeat. It's speed, if you're lucky. It's life and it's death or it's both, and there's nothing like it.”
Maggie Stiefvater, The Scorpio Races

Maggie Stiefvater
“I hear laughter and someone asks if I need help, not in a nice way. I snarl, 'What I need is for your mother to have thought a little harder nine months before your birthday.”
Maggie Stiefvater, The Scorpio Races

Maggie Stiefvater
“I didn't know," I start truthfully, "that it was the hard way when I started on it.”
Maggie Stiefvater, The Scorpio Races

Maggie Stiefvater
“It's easy to convince men to love you, Puck. All you have to do is be a mountain they have to climb or a poem they don't understand.”
Maggie Stiefvater, The Scorpio Races

Maggie Stiefvater
“As the sun shines low and red across the water, I wade into the ocean. The water is still high and brown and murky with the memory of the storm, so if there’s something below it, I won’t know it. But that’s part of this, the not knowing. The surrender to the possibilities beneath the surface. It wasn’t the ocean that killed my father, in the end. The water is so cold that my feet go numb almost at once. I stretch my arms out to either side of me and close my eyes. I listen to the sound of water hitting water. The raucous cries of the terns and the guillemots in the rocks of the shore, the piercing, hoarse questions of the gulls above me. I smell seaweed and fish and the dusky scent of the nesting birds onshore. Salt coats my lips, crusts my eyelashes. I feel the cold press against my body. The sand shifts and sucks out from under my feet in the tide. I’m perfectly still. The sun is red behind my eyelids. The ocean will not shift me and the cold will not take me.”
Maggie Stiefvater, The Scorpio Races

Maggie Stiefvater
“It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.”
Maggie Stiefvater, The Scorpio Races


Reading Progress

11/09/2011
15.0% "Alternating POVs from two characters, Puck and Sean. Can't wait for these two to meet."
11/09/2011
40.0% ""I know I should be terrified of tonight and of tomorrow and of the next day, and I am, but I can feel something else, too: excitement."" 2 comments
10/31/2014 marked as: currently-reading
10/31/2014
2.0% ""Our dead drink the sea."" 3 comments
10/31/2014
5.0% ""I am here on firm ground, but part of me is already down on the beach, and my own blood is singing I'm so, so alive.""
11/01/2014
15.0% ""There are moments that you'll remember for the rest of your life and there are moments that you think you'll remember for the rest of your life, and it's not often they turn out to be the same thing.""
11/01/2014
31.0% ""Sean is made of stone and driftwood and possibly those prickly anemones that sometimes wash up on shore.""
11/02/2014
75.0% ""Something tells me my spit wouldn't mean as much to Corr as yours would." There's a long pause before Sean speaks. He says, "Maybe not yet.""
11/02/2014 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-16)




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message 16: by Rollie (new)

Rollie No rating? :D


Meann Aaaaaannnddd? :D :D :D


Chachic Review to follow :P


Wendy Darling I'm glad you enjoyed it, Chachic. :)


Chachic Thanks Wendy! I saw your review and I'm sorry this didn't work out for you.


message 11: by Nomes (new) - added it

Nomes fab review. I have this waiting for me on my kindle. I want to down my physical TBR a bit first though :)

I hope I like this one. I didn't mind shiver, but linger really put me off :)


Chachic Nomes, I'm glad you're planning to read this! I hope you end up liking it as well.

I read Shiver and I liked where it ended so I haven't read Linger or Forever yet.


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) I absolutely love this review. I want to print it out and marry it. :D

Especially this:
I loved how the romance developed in this book, the pacing was perfect. It's the best kind of slow burn, filled with intense, meaningful glances and one-liners that go straight to the heart.

I couldn't agree more.


Chachic Maja wrote: "I absolutely love this review. I want to print it out and marry it. :D

Aww Maja, thank you so much for the kind words. *blushes* The subtle romance was wonderful, wasn't it? That Sean Kendrick is a quiet boy but he sure knows how to deliver lines that are made of WIN.


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) I love that the focus wasn't on romance at all, but it was still present. It made things different and more interesting. You know, I reread Shiver after finishing this, and I actually think that I love The Scorpio Races more.


Chachic Yep, I'm a HUGE fan of subtle romance when it's done well and I was surprised by how much I ended up loving Puck and Sean. This book my favorite Maggie Stiefvater so far. :)

If you're looking for subtle romance, I highly recommend the Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner, starting with The Thief (although the romance doesn't happen until The Queen of Attolia - do not read the synopses of the latter books because they're spoilery)


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Oh, I'll definitely read it then, thank you! I'm always on the lookout for something different/less formulaic.


Chachic Yay! The romance in that series is definitely different. I hope you like it. Sigh, thinking about The Scorpio Races makes me want to read more books like it.


message 3: by Negine (new) - added it

Negine I'm going to add this book because of your review Chachic =) I've only read shiver by Maggie Stiefvater and while I liked it - it didn't make me want to pick up the rest in that series. Can't wait to read this if for nothing else but the lovely descriptions of the sea!


Chachic Negine, I read Shiver back in 2010 and liked where it ended so didn't pick up the rest of the books. But since I loved The Scorpio Races, I'm planning to read Linger and Forever within the year. I think The Scorpio Races is Maggie Stiefvater's best book so far. I hope you enjoy reading it! :)


Terry (Ter05 TwiMoms/ MundieMoms) I love all her books. Not as crazy about her first two (Lament and Ballad) but from there on they were all five stars for me. I just re-read the first two in the Raven Cycle and read the third one that just came out. Her writing is not like anyone else and it sure works for me with everything she has written. I used to be seriously into horses and training and The Scorpio Races is brilliant in her blending the real equine into supernatural and Sean is the perfect horseman.


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