Friday, February 12, 2016

Review: The Scorpio Races

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Published October 18th 2011 by Scholastic

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 choice. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.
The Scorpio Races is one of Maggie Stiefvater's better received books - which is saying something when you're a fan of everything the author puts out.  This was the last of her books that I needed to read and since I had so much success with her Wolves of Mercy Falls series, it seemed like the perfect time to experience The Scorpio Races for myself - and get my Stiefvater fix until The Raven King releases!

I've read complaints from other readers that there wasn't enough going on in The Scorpio Races, that the plot was slow...etc.  I think it helps going into one of Stiefvater's books, to be aware that this is largely her style.  The plot always takes a backseat to character development, world-building, and setting the tone - which Stiefvater does beautifully here, as I've come to expect.  Here, the reader is invited to fall in love with Thisby, a fictional island which seems to transcend any time period or location.  Thisby houses a small community of island folk...as well as a population of killer water-horses.  Every Fall, these horses or Capaill Uisce emerge from the ocean, while residents of Thisby attempt to catch one, in the hopes of surviving long enough to race and win The Scorpio Races.

As an avid animal lover, even though I've never actually ridden a horse, I was completely taken by the horses here, both of the regular or deadly variety.  It was so clear that the two main characters Sean and Kate - or Puck, as she prefers to be called - adored their respectives mounts, it warmed my heart to no end. Of course, the descriptions of horses were vivid, stunning and often chilling, especially when dealing with the deadly capaill uisce.  The fact that these mystical creatures came to life so seamlessly, in an otherwise ordinary setting was astonishing. I swear I could easily believe that Thisby is a real place and that these water-horses actually exist!  Naturally, the parts which involved horses, magical or otherwise were my favorite ♥

Back to our two main characters^^ I took to both of them instantly, and as both their stories progressed, my affection for them grew. They're both so different from one another, but at the same time, even before they actually meet, it's clear that the complement each other.  When they finally do meet, all I wanted was for them to just be.together.  Even if they weren't speaking, there was a kinship there that went deep and rang true.  The romance that gradually peaks through is of the deliciously slow-burn variety...which made it achingly beautiful and so real it seemed to leap off the pages.

The ATMOSPHERE though. That's where it's at in The Scorpio Races, and I think the same holds true for any Stiefvater book.  It's not just a story, it's like you've travelled to Thisby and watching everything unfold firsthand. You feel the rain on your face, you smell the sea, you hear the horses, you see the farms, the people...everything.  I might not know where Thisby is, but I've been there, it's as simple as that.

So yes, while the plot of The Scorpio Races is quiet, creeping and even slow at times, the setting, the characters and their world more than make up for it.  Exceptionally atmospheric, The Scorpio Races delivers like only Maggie Stiefvater can.  This woman can do no wrong.  If you need lots of action, this is probably not the book for you, but if you're an animal lover that gets high on gorgeous writing, memorable characters, realistic, slow-burn romances and creepy/captivating mythical creatures, well then you should absolutely give this one a try!

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

28 comments:

  1. I've heard good things about this book and this author in general and a lot of people have told me to read the Raven Cycle books. I would really like to give this one a shot some day!

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    1. Oh I hope you read ALL of Stiefvater's books to be honest haha! I'd love to read your thoughts on them and hopefully you'll have as much luck with them as I have :)

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  2. I have been thinking about reading this for a while, I love The Raven Cycle series and Maggie Stiefvater's writing. After your review, I think I will have to put this higher on my tbr list. Great job!

    Sofia @ Bookish Wanderess

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    1. Same here^^ I knew I wanted to read this for a while...I guess it was the right time to dive in :) If you love The Raven Cycle and Stiefvater's writing, I think (hope) you'll enjoy this one too Sofia! Thank you!

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  3. I guess I never grew out of my childhood love of horses, because as soon as I heard about this book I was all over it! Though of course, the horses here are anything but nice little ponies :D I really enjoyed this one because it was so imaginative and the setting was so atmospheric. I agree, definitely memorable!

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

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    1. I know what you mean about the horses here but I was fascinated (and terrified) with them all the same :D I agree with you, it was super imaginative and the setting was almost like a living entity! I want to live in Thisby!!

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  4. I love atmospheric books, i read one a while back set on a tropical island and it felt like I was there. Pretty awesome, sounds like this one is the same way. I've heard good things about Stiefvater, glad you enjoyed this one!

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    1. Aren't they the best?! Even when there's not much going on, it feels like an escape just to read books like that - it's like being transported into another world! Thanks Greg :)

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  5. I'm so glad you liked this! I loved this book. The characters are amazing and the world so easy to get lost in. Plus it has horses XD

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    1. I really enjoyed it Bec, glad to hear you did too - though I'm not surprised, considering the horses ;)

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  6. I loved reading this post and I have this on my TBR list :) I loved the Wolves of Mercy Falls series with my favourite being Shiver. I hope to read this sometime in the future.

    I have nominated you for the Liebster Award and you can check out the post here:

    http://abookparadise.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/liebster-award-7.html

    Have a nice day! Tanya

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    1. I actually just read The Wolves of Mercy Falls for the first time late last year but I'm a huge fan now - loved the entire series...though I think Linger might have been my favorite ;)

      Thanks for the nomination but like it says below: my blog is an award free zone :) I appreciate the thought though!

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  7. Maybe it was because this was the first Stiefvater book that I ever read and I wasn't familiar with her writing style yet, but I just couldn't get into this one when I read it a few years back. I did love her prose, though, which is why I picked up The Raven Boys, unsure of how I was going to fare with it, but we both know how that turned out, lol! I'm glad that The Scorpio Races was a winner for you, though! And now we wait for The Raven King ... most impatiently! XD

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    1. Oh no! This was your first Stiefvater book and it didn't work out?! I'm shocked! Maybe it was because it was your first try of her style, maybe it wasn't the right book at the right time either^^ My first experience with Stiefvater was The Raven Boys - thanks to you ♥ Thank you my friend and yes...now we wait for The Raven King...VERY IMPATIENTLY X'D

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  8. Never been on a horse? Or you must give it a go sometime! I've been one of those crazy horse lovers my whole life and so this was one that resonated so deeply with me - I'm glad you still dug that aspect of the book even without ever having ridden a horse. But yes, I concur with everything you said here about The Scorpio Races and Maggie. Here's to hoping they make a good movie out of this that is fitting of the material!

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    1. I know...I know. *hangs head in shame* And it's not like there aren't horses EVERYWHERE around here. I definitely want to though^^ I think that just the love and understanding of animals resonated with me but I can only imagine how much more intense it would have been IF I were more familiar with horses! I didn't even know they were making a movie about this one Aylee!! OMG :D

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  9. I need to read this book! So many blogging peers have recommended this book to me over and over. Funny thing is, I bought it for my sister a few Christmases ago, and she loved it, but I myself have never read it. I'll have to sneak her copy and read it. ;D Glad you enjoyed it, Micheline! :)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

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    1. Oh I hope you will read it Alyssa^^ you totally should borrow it from your sister - it seems only fair - you gave her a beloved story so you should be able to borrow it ;) Thanks girl!!

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  10. I absolutely loved the Scorpio Races, Micheline! And your review could have been my review apart from I think I gave five stars, actually. The character development was so well done, and I loved the lengths Puck was willing to go to keep her family safe and fed.
    Have a fantastic week!
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

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    1. Great minds think alike Lexxie^^ ;) Everything was just so well developed: the world, the atmosphere, the characters...and like you, I really loved Puck's determination. Thanks and have a great weekend xxx

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  11. After hearing such amazing things for so long about this one, I finally grabbed it last month when it was on sale. I'm looking forward to reading it now. :) Glad to see you enjoyed it so much!

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    1. Sweet! That's great Lisa! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and I can't wait to compare notes with you :)

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  12. I feel like I may have to be in the right mood to enjoy this read. I am very character driven, and I agree that Maggie paints quite a picture in setting and with her characters, but I'm just not sure there's enough going on for me to love it without being in the mood for a slower story. It's great that you felt so immersed in the atmosphere that it was as if you were in Thisby. The place does indeed sound magical. Excellent review :D

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    1. I think you probably would have to be in the right mood - if you're looking for action and more plot-driven stories, I could see this one fall flat. That being said, I'm just completely in love with Maggie and her prose so I enjoyed the pacing and yeah, the atmosphere and characters more than made up for anything else :D Thank you my friend ♥

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  13. Another Stiefvater book that I need to read. SOON. Sigh ... :-)

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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  14. YES. I absolutely loved The Scorpio Races and couldn't agree more about all the elements you mentioned. The atmosphere, for sure. Plus, THAT ENDING.

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  15. This, until recently, was the ONLY Stiefvater book I'd read, and I really really enjoyed it! I think being an animal lover helps, but you're so right about the atmosphere, it's absolutely what makes this book, and like you said, you do feel like you've been to Thisby! You totally nailed this book with this review, and you've made me want to go back and re-read it by reminding me all the things I loved about it! I'm glad you enjoyed it, it's always horrid when you love an author but aren't sold on something they've done (*cough* The Casual Vacancy) so I'm definitely glad you didn't have that here.

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    1. And it was the only one I hadn't read, until recently LOL! I agree with you 100% - being an animal lover helps ♥ The atmosphere I think, is where Stiefvater consistently shines and I know some readers want more but when she paints a picture this perfectly, I just swoon for DAYS! Eeeep, I still need to read The Casual Vacancy but I'm holding out hope I'll love it...*crosses fingers*

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