It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.
At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.
Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.
Having grown up with the Chesapeake Bay in my back yard and a view of an island in the bay not far from the banks and sandy beach we played on, I was familiar with the story of Misty of Chincoteague Island as well as the legends of “Chessie” our own monster that came from the sea. Maggie Stiefvater’s Scorpio Races brought me back to my childhood with its magical tone. Set on the island Thisby with dramatic stone cliffs, The Scorpio Races follows the weeks leading up to the deadly races which happen each November. Men try to capture the capaille uisce from the sea, wild flesh eating water horses then race them down by the shore in a deadly tradition that melds magic and brute strength. Sean Kendrick is the favorite as four time winning jockey and horse trainer of Corr. But this year the stakes are even higher as the race gets personal. Both Sean and the alternate protagonist Puck (Kate) have their hopes and dreams on the line. Puck may lose everything as an orphan who’s parents died at the hands of the capaille uisce. She and her younger brother Finn are left to fend for themselves when their older brother announces he is set to leave for the main land. If Kate can race she’ll assure he sticks around a while longer and maybe even save their fledgling family.
Maggie’s lyrical style spins a character driven fantasy that explores loyalty, class and gender division. While the pacing felt a bit off and it took me about 160 pages to get into the flow, by the end I was breathless. Dang can she write! The Scorpio Races is raw and gritty with nothing held back while at the same time beautiful in its conclusion. Each character is fully fleshed out with their own idiosyncrasies, Finn with OCD, Puck with downright stubbornness and Sean with a silent but acute wisdom. As well the side characters and setting are unforgettable. I would recommend The Scorpio Races if you’re looking for a slow paced fantasy with a subtle tease of romance. There are a few minor swear words and moderate violence, so it is probably best for readers over 14 year old. Before or after picking up the book you’ll want to check out Maggie Stiefvater’s website for a playlist, slide show of photos and the unforgettable hand drawn trailer I’m embedding below. Maggie has done it again!
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Fire and Ice is giving away one advanced reading copy of The Scorpio Races and Scholastic This Is Teen has added in one custom bracelet plus a hardcover copy. Two winners. To enter to win click here and fill out the form.