The Scorpio Races by Maggie StiefvaterThe 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!
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.
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.
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