Kelly Roll's Reviews > The Scorpio Races

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
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's review
Mar 08, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: listened-to

As an adult I had problems with the novel. I felt there were plot devices introduced just to carry the story forward but then those plot devices were never carried through on. For example Puck and Finn’s older brother announces that he is leaving the island for the mainland. From earlier descriptions of the sibling’s relationship in the book they do seem to like one another yet neither of his siblings ask the immediate obvious question of as to why Gabe is going. While Gabe does give vague reasoning much later in the book it just seemed odd to me that no one would ask the initial question. I felt that there could have been some really lovely character development and growth here even though Gabe is a secondary character.
We also discover that the house payments have not been paid for a year, another plot device to explain why Puck must ride in the races yet no explanation ever is given as to why this is so. Is it because Gabe drinks it all away? Is it because the siblings are paid so little they spent it all on food?
I also wondered how there could be anyone left on the island as the races are such a bloody sport and so many of the islanders leave the island. I also wondered why the women would allow their sons to race knowing they had a good chance of dying.

However, what really bothered me and what kept pulling me out of the story was the inklings of a really interesting world and the frustration as a reader as to the rules of that world. It was as if the author had given me just a nibble on a wonderful flaky buttery scone and then pulled the scone away. I don’t think it would have taken much to sketch in a little more about the mythology the author had decided to make her own and she had the perfect tool to do so. Sean could have explained so much in a casual conversation with George Holly as to the workings of the water horses. I kept wondering why they came at that time of year, and if they loved the water so much why broach land at all? The water horses captured in previous years, were they released at all? Why would you keep flesh eating horses in the same barn as your other horses, and so on. I do know this wasn’t the author’s intent but it would have made the story so much better to have a little more of the picture filled in.

Then as I was complaining got a friend about what I felt was wrong with the story she reminded me who the intended audience is, i.e. not adults, and to try to read the story as if I were still a teen. Lo and behold when I let go of some of my questions I then really began to enjoy the story. I liked the very subtle romantic relationship and loved the climatic race scene as well as some of the other aspects of the book, e.g. the funeral, the rituals around the race etc. Being a former mad teen lover of horses I also enjoyed the scenes with Sean with Cor and Puck with Dove. So I’d definitely recommend this to a young adult but perhaps not to my hard core fantasy readers

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