Kathleen's Reviews > The Scorpio Races

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
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Dec 06, 11

bookshelves: fantasy, young-adult
Read from December 02 to 06, 2011

Wow, this one grabbed me by the throat (heh, if you read it you'll see what I mean) and wouldn't let me go until I finished it. The story is set on a rocky, wind-swept island called Thisby, perhaps meant to feel like one of the remoter islands off of Scotland. Anyway, Thisby is the only place in the world where water horses can be found.

Stiefvater has chosen to make her water horses beautiful but deadly. They live in the water but come up on land to eat things: sheep, stray cats, and people if they happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Once a year, the bravest of the souls on the island line up to race their recently-caught, magically-restrained, and barely-mastered water horses. They do this because otherwise the tiny island economy will sputter and fail - this is the one time of year tourists flock to the island and spend their money, and when the island residents make their livings.

People die at an alarming rate in this book. The main character, Puck, is an orphan, both parents taken by the water horses a year ago. But she is in love with the island and her normal horse (Dove). Times are tough and she and her bothers are barely making ends meet. She decides to race this year, on Dove, the first girl and normal horse to ever brave the treacherous beach race.

The plot is so gripping, the danger of the water horses so vividly depicted, I just couldn't put this story down. This is also a coming-of-age story, and the relationship of Puck and Sean is well-handled and true to character. The only criticism I have is that the ending felt somewhat abrupt to me; I would have preferred a little epilogue or something.

Keywords: fantasy, horses, water horses, horse racing, orphans, young-adult, legends

Read-alikes: people who enjoyed the danger and thrilling pace of The Hunger Games will enjoy this book. Also, anyone who has ridden or loves horses will relate to Puck and Sean, both of them in tune with their mounts to a degree that shows Stiefvater's knowledge of the finer points of horseback riding.
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