Review Blog

Jan 11 2012

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

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Scholastic, 2011. ISBN 9781407129853.
(Age 13+) Recommended. Every year the Scorpio Races are run on the beach of Skamouth, but the horses are not ordinary thoroughbreds, instead they are capaill usice, wild water horses that are desperate to return to the ocean and are likely to attack and eat their riders. Sean Kendrick knows and loves the water horses, especially Corr, the blood red stallion that he has won on four times previously. Puck Connolly is a newcomer to the races. Desperate to save her family home, she is determined to try and win on her little mare, Dove, even though she faces opposition from the men who ride in the races. When Sean sees Puck on the beach, he is drawn to her and together they prepare for the race of their lives.
After a slow start, the book builds up momentum and I became immersed in the story of the water horses. Stiefvater built up her small island world, with its mythical capaill usice, in such a matter of fact way that I found myself believing that there could be a place off Ireland or Scotland perhaps, where there really are cannibalistic water horses and people crazy enough to risk their lives riding them in races. The lives of the people living there are also described in depth. The longing of some of young, like Gabe, Puck's brother, to get to the mainland and the strength of the pull of island roots for Puck and Sean who know they could never leave adds interest to the story.
Puck (or Kate as she was christened) is a brave girl. She is prepared to take on the men and refuses to let them intimidate her. However she is open to advice and actively seeks it out in her quest to save her family home. Sean is a strong silent character and the low key, simmering romance will satisfy those who enjoy a love story.
However it is the excitement of the race, the suspense and fear that someone will be killed by the water horses and the sheer thrill of the gallops along the cliffs that truly captivated me. People who love horses will enjoy this change of pace from the author who wrote the Shiver series about werewolves.
Pat Pledger

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