March 28, 2012 by Heidi
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.