Thursday, December 6, 2012

Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

The Scorpio Races
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
October 18, 2011
Scholastic Press
409 pages
Source: Personal Purchase
Genre: Young Adult
Goodreads Summary:
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.
My Review:

I'm having a hard time gathering my thoughts about this incredible book. I've had it glaring at me from my bookshelf for over a year now, begging me to read it. I wish I had listened sooner, because I absolutely loved this book. I'm also thrilled to have a quality YA book that I won't mind my sons reading (espcially my eldest, since he and I actually got to meet Maggie).

First, the setting feels so mystic and surreal at times, yet I can completely picture everything Maggie describes on the island, especially the visual created of the beach where the races take place and the cliffs above them. The whole world has been reduced to this little island. I can see why Puck loves it and Gabe wants to get away from it.

Second, the anticipation of the Scorpio races could be felt through the pages, from the locals riding in them and observing them, to the mainland visitors bringing their own nerves and fervor. The community itself is tough, not giving out a lot of sympathies. Tragedy is commonplace here. Death is frequent during the training and event of these races. Hence the toughness of those participating in these races. It is such a unique situation. And the capall uisce are truly terrifying beasts yet so well-loved by this community. I found them fascinating.

Third, the characters I absolutely loved (or in some cases hated). Kate/Puck is such a mix of characteristics. I love how she's moody and sour one moment, then empathetic and gentle, then courageous and strong. Yet in her varying feelings, she never made me feel frustrated with her like many characters can, because I could understand her. Sean was also such a special guy, with his quiet stillness yet his solidity at the core of who he was. Kate and Sean both came from heart-breaking circumstances, though Sean's to me is tougher, yet I loved the beauty of how Maggie engaged their characters to empathize with each other, understand each other, and yet move slowly with each other. I simply fell in love with both Kate and Sean. And how they both loved their steeds, Kate to Dove and Sean to Corr, was beautiful. Sean's love for Corr in particular, and vice versa, truly touched my heart.

Kate's brothers, Gabe the eldest and Finn the youngest, were so different. Gabe took some understanding and getting used to before I could like him, but Finn I loved from the very start. Mutt was as rotten as they come. I liked the other intermittent characters tossed about, giving the story and scenery flavor and depth. The secondary characters weren't just cardboard cut-outs thrown in to take up space. They all seemed to matter. And then there's George Holly, whom I absolutely loved. He was like a guardian angel sent from California (which I love because I'm a Californian) who could be the subtle voice of reason and conscience, yet never overstepping his bounds, especially with Sean. I could read a whole book about him.

Fourth, there was so much beauty in the progress of the story. You add up the scenery, the race event, and the characters, and what you get is Maggie Steifvater's amazing story of these Scorpio races. And not just the races, but all of what they mean and what they encompass: Sean's backstory, his current situation, his love and need for Corr; Kate and her brothers' dire situation with Gabe leaving and their financial ruin; and what these races mean to both of them, all of them, and what it would mean to them to win or not, and what the consequences would be. The more the story progressed, the more I was on the edge of my seat in nervous anticipation, unable to put the book down. And by the last page, I didn't want it to end.

The ending is very satisfying and left me with a vision of how I imagined the story continuing to play out. Maggie left me with the latitude to create my own epilogue, and I truly appreciate that. Again, this is a beautiful story of heart-ache and hope, amazing characters I fell in love with, and a book I believe adults and young adults would all enjoy. I highly recommend this book. Don't procrastinate reading it like I did.



  1. Great review! I haven't read this yet, but you make me want to read it NOW!

    1. Thanks! Yes, you should definitely read it NOW :)

  2. Great, great, great review! This is one of my all-time favorite books. :)

    Brandy @ A Little of the Book Life

    1. Thanks, Brandy! This is now on my favorite list, too :)


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