It’s no secret that I LOVE Maggie Stiefvater. (I can never spell her last name right, but I love her just the same.) I just finished the last book in her Wolves of Mercy Falls series Forever earlier this year, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her next project. I was a little hesitant when I heard it was about horses and horse racing, because, although I took lessons as a child, I’m not one of those horse people. With horses it seems, you’re either in or you’re out, and for the people that love these animals, it’s truly a way of life.
And for the two main characters in The Scorpio Races, Kate “Puck” Connelly and Sean Kendrick, horses are their way of life. Puck has been riding since she was a girl, and now on her beloved steed Dove, she hopes to win the Scorpio Races in order to save her (dead) parent’s house and prevent her older brother from sailing to the mainland forevermore. Only one problem. Dove is a regular island pony, not one of the vicious Capaill Uisge (think Kelpie on steroids–and don’t ask me to pronounce it!) that men catch from the sea each year to enter the races astride. Basically, Puck is entering a race for carnivores while riding a delicious meal. Danger, anyone?
Enter Sean, horse person. More like, horse whisperer, really. Ironically enough, he works in the world-famous stables of the land owner/race guru who is coming to foreclose on Puck’s family home. On the back of his beautiful and terrible Capaill Uisge, Cor, he is a four-time Scorpio Race champion. But working for someone else doesn’t quite sit right with Sean, especially knowing that Cor is not his own, and could be sold or ridden by somebody else at any time. He makes a deal with his boss that if he wins the Scorpio Races, he can buy Cor and leave the treacherous, enemy-riddled farm. If not, he walks away empty-handed.
Well damn… Who do I root for now?
And if these horses are known man-eaters, who’s going to get chomped?
This book was amazingly written. Stiefvater has really hit her mark with an excellent descriptive voice and compulsively readable style. This has all the pacing and adventure violence that the Wolves of Mercy Falls series lacked, and is a great standalone novel. It is, without a doubt, one of the best books I’ve read all year. She really makes the island of Thisby come alive, to the point you can almost taste salt spray on your lips and feel the wind whipping knots in your hair. I also loved the deviation from the standard vampire/werewolf/faerie fodder that publishers have been glutting the market with lately. A book about carnivorous water horses? Yes, please!
One thing, though: This is not a romance. Repeat, not a romance. If you are looking for steamy make-out scenes and tangle the sheets sessions, this is not it. Some will complain about this, and I understand why. We are so used to every male/female character pairing “hooking up” at some point during the story, that we feel cheated if we don’t get it. Well guess what? It’s implied.
I actually liked the deviation from declarations of undying love. The book was about these two characters struggling individually, and how they met in the middle and formed a bond, not about how badly they wanted each other. Yes, you could tell that they did, but Stiefvater purposely leaving this out only amps up the sexual tension. Plus, it’s a book for teens, for crying out loud!
Read this book and decide who’s getting it as a Christmas gift…
5 of 5 stars