Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

19

March 28, 2012 by Heidi

Book cover for The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: The Scorpio Races [Amazon|GoodReads]
Author: Maggie Stiefvater [Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Standing: Stand alone novel.
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Published: October 18th, 2011 by Scholastic Inc.
Format: Hardcover; 409 pages.  
Source: Borrowed from my local library.
Challenge: Award Winning Reads Challenge.

Are you ready for this?  Steel yourself and gird your loins, because this is going to be one of those reviews.  One where I gush unabashedly about my love for a book in a way that should be totally shameful and embarrassing but I don’t care one bit because I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it!

It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.

Each year, the island of Thisby plays host on the first of November to the Scorpio Races, featuring the deadly horses from the sea.  Many of those who sign up will not see the finish line.  

There are too many people on horseback today trying to prove themselves, trying to prepare, trying to get faster.  They haven’t discovered yet that it’s not the fastest who made it to race day.

You only have to be the fastest of those who are left.

Sean Kendrick has won the races for the past four years and is the man to beat, though Puck Connolly is determined to try.  No woman has ever ran the races, let alone on an island horse rather than one of the water horses, but Puck has concluded that the races are her only option for the future she needs.  Unfortunately, winning is the only option for Sean Kendrick as well.

I’m about to say something about this book that can be said so rarely.  I’ve read tons of reviews, I’ve seen the awards, I’ve experienced the hype, and yet, The Scorpio Races was nothing like I expected.  I love when a story can really take me by surprise.  This one drew me in so that I did not feel the need to try to predict what would happen, I was content to absorb it, and could not have been more happy with what I found.  The Scorpio Races was so beautifully written with moments such as this:

There are moments that you’ll remember for the rest of you 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 moments.  But when Peg Gratton turns around and chalks my name on the list, white on black, I know, without a doubt, that it’s an image I’ll never forget.

I adored Puck and Sean, and the relationship between them that while important to the story didn’t encompass it.  Both characters are strong, brave, hard-working, and fiercely in love with their animals and their home.  Their affection is one borne of mutual respect, very similar to the relationship each has with their horse it is built on trust, understanding, and requires very little words.  Each of them desperately needs to win the races for their own reasons, but instead of the competition driving a wedge between them, it draws them together and makes them both stronger.  I myself wasn’t sure how I wanted the book to end up, and felt my own stomach knotting with nervous anticipation as the races approached as if I myself were participating.

I think my strongest attachment to The Scorpio Races wasn’t even the characters, but the setting.  Maggie Stiefvater manages to expertly create her setting as its own character, something that is so rarely done well, and I love love loved it.  The island was its own personality, with desires, characteristics, and being, and the water horses were tied to it so closely.  Personally, it reminded me so much of Prince Edward Island in Avonlea books and the Road to Avonlea TV series, but you know…with killer sea horses.  It just made me want to spend windy fall days on the beach in fisherman’s wool sweaters drinking tea from a thermos.  

My heart was warm upon finishing this book, it filled up up in places I didn’t even know needed filling.

Likelihood that I’ll be back for more:  I cannot wait for The Raven Boys, Stiefvater’s new quartet to premiere this fall.  I enjoyed Shiver, but I loved The Scorpio Races.  You can see some definite progression over four books, and I am hoping she can keep up the momentum in a new series.

Recommended for: Pretty much any YA fan–it totally stands up to the hype!  Also horse lovers and fans of quieter romance.

Real life repercussions of reading this book: Making real life November Cakes of course! They’re not quite as pretty as intended because I didn’t have the time to make icing beautiful, but that hardly affects the taste. People, these things are AMAZING. Maggie Stiefvater posted the recipe here, and I highly suggest you try it.

November Cakes, recipe by Maggie Stiefvater, made by Heidi Frederick

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19 comments »

  1. Aww LOVE THIS REVIEW! I want this book right now an if I had money on my card I'd would be downloading it on my Kindle right this second! I am definitely going to read this soon- especially now I know it's more about horses than scorpians! Also I'm a Scorpio…meant to be!x

  2. I've been just pining away for this book. I love Maggie Stiefvater's Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, but that isn't the reason I wanted to read Scorpio Races at all. In fact, it's reviews like yours that convinced me I was missing out. I just LOVED the way you describe the characters, their respect for each other, and I can only imagine what the setting is like. Maggie is such a strong writer, I don't see how this could disappoint. And Raven Boys? OH MAN. I'm dying for that one to fall into my lap as well. — Asher

  3. Heidi says:

    Hahaha, yes, do not fear, there are zero scorpions in this book. I hope you're able to get your hands on it soon, maybe your library has it? Since it was a Printz honor book this year, it should be fairly easy to find. I'd love to hear what you think when you do read it!

  4. Heidi says:

    I know, right? So excited for Raven Boys, and I've decided that Maggie Stiefvater has an amazing range at which she can succeed. The Scorpio Races was nothing like Wolves of Mercy Falls whatsoever, (which means I push it on people who didn't love that series), but I found both stories very unique and rich. I love the spin on lore that she takes, and can't wait to see what Rave Boys is like. I hope you get this one soon, Asher!

  5. adhfllr2y11!!!!! YES ALL OF THIS!! All of your words. Seriously. I've already read this book twice, and it's one of those books that I think about rereading all the time because Puck is AMAZING, Sean is AMAZING, their relationship is PERFECT BECAUSE it's not the focus–it just felt like a natural extension of the more important aspects of the story, you know?–and Thisby is where I want to spend ALL OF MY VACATIONS. Sigh. Also, I need to make November cakes already. Those look DELICIOUS.

  6. Holly says:

    What you said. 😀 I'm glad it went beyond your expectations to places you never could've expected. I am SO excited for the Raven Boys. AND I've been meaning to make November cakes. With your rave review I need to do it soon.

  7. Heidi says:

    And yes to all of that!! I loved this book so much, I will totally be rereading it myself. And seriously, Thisby would make the BEST SUMMER VACATION ever. Well, unless you like to spend too much time swimming in the ocean.

  8. Heidi says:

    They did! I'm not sure what I was expecting (well, for one, I thought the whole book would be like some epic Hildago style race), but this completely blew me away. You MUST make November cakes. It's a fair amount of work, but they're so so good. They're like cinnamon rolls but orange and honey instead of cinnamon. Thinking I may have to make them again this weekend.

  9. Jasmine Rose says:

    Oh man, now I REALLY want to read this! I won a copy from a Goodreads giveaway back around December but. It. Never. Came. I was devastated and from there I don't know what happened. I never put it on hold at my library or anything. I want to read it all the more after seeing your review, though 😀

  10. Heidi says:

    Oh wow, I'd be devastated if I was told I won this AMAZING book and then it never came! So sad! Then again, I've never actually won one of the GoodReads giveaways at all. I swear you win everything! You SHOULD get this from the library though, it's so good.

  11. The setting for this book was amazing. I have to confess I had much more mixed reactions to this book than you did, Heidi, but as always I very much enjoyed reading your perspective. I can't wait for Maggie's new book, too! And I keep meaning to try out those buns…they look amazing. :)Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  12. Heidi says:

    I know that Shiver is one of your all-time favorite books, and The Scorpio Races is so vastly different, I can see how people can have various reactions. I'm glad you thought the setting was amazing at least, as it was one of my favorite aspects! Hopefully The Raven Boys will be a winner for both of us.

  13. Melanie says:

    Hmmm… I felt fairly ambivalent towards Shiver, mainly because it was so hyped. I enjoyed the story, but it didn't blow me away lke it did so many others, so I felt disappointed. Prince Edward Island with killer horses, I love that image!I'll definitely be trying out those November Cakes after I read The Scorpio Races. Making food featured in books seems to be a developing habit of mine. :)

  14. Heidi says:

    Haha, I remember your beignets (I cannot spell in French) post! You SHOULD make them. I personally felt Scorpio Races was a significantly stronger book than Shiver. I did like Shiver, but like you said, I wasn't blown away. It was, for me, just another paranormal. A well done one, but just another nonetheless. I hope you like Scorpio Races better!

  15. Love that quote you picked!I didn't like Shiver whatsoever. I'm hoping since you loved TSR more than Shiver that it will be the case for me as well! :)I want some November Cakes!!!I just recently bought this and I'm hoping to read to for the AWR. I'm kind of behind on the challenge :( Maybe it's because Ashley isn't around pushing me, I don't know.

  16. Heidi says:

    Hehe, you totally need to try the cakes, they are awesome! A fair amount of work though…I think about making them a lot more than I actually make them. And YES, this book is so completely different from Shiver that I don't think there is even a comparison between the two, whether you liked Shiver or not. I hope you're able to catch up on the AWR! I've been keeping up so far…audiobooks have helped.

  17. […] about all of these.  It’s my sincerest hope that The Raven Boys is of the same caliber as The Scorpio Races, and that The Diviners marries best aspects of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine/Beauty […]

  18. […] for: Those who enjoyed Grave Mercy and The Scorpio Races.  Katsa and Po gave me the same vibe as Puck and Sean with strong women, boys who don’t push […]

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While the source for each book I review is posted within its review, please assume unless otherwise stated that books reviewed on Bunbury in the Stacks were received free from the author or publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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