Tag Archives: maggie stiefvater

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

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!This is not what the horses in The Scorpio Races look like!

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


Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

“Oh, the ball that’s thrown, the ball that dared,

Does it not fill your hands differently when it

returns:

made weightier; merely by coming home.”

-Rainer Maria Rilke

So, this weekend I the pleasure of finally being able to finish the much anticipated third and final installment of the Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy, Forever by Maggie Stiefvater. I’ve been really stoked about this series for a couple of years now, ever since my roommate checked Shiver out of the library and left it laying around for my word-hungry eyes to find. She never could get through it, but I couldn’t put it down. It was the same with Forever.

 The end of the series revisits and alternates between the perspectives of the four main characters: Sam Roth, Grace Brisbane, Isabel Culpepper, and Cole St. Clair. Now if you haven’t read the two previous books, Shiver and Linger, I’m going to go ahead and warn you that SPOILERS ARE TO FOLLOW:

In Forever, the young lovers Sam and Grace are still together– but the tables have turned. Grace has now been infected with the werewolf virus and Sam has been “cured.” In this cruel twist of fate, it is now Sam who must endure lonely winters waiting while the one he loves roams the frozen Boundary Woods. However, when Grace changes back for the season, the couple doesn’t get to enjoy peace for long. They learn that in light of several fatal wolf attacks, the politicians of Mercy Falls (including Isabel’s father) are plotting a mass extermination of the wolves. And by wolves I mean the werewolf pack that Sam used to be a part of, Grace is now a part of,  and that is lead by his now full-time-wolf father figure, Beck.

Talk about drama. Not to mention the fact that a local missing girl was found naked with her throat torn out on Sam’s property, and that Grace is still “missing” in the eyes of the authorities. Police and townsfolk are now watching the yellow-eyed nineteen year old with loathing suspicion.

Cole (a werewolf/missing rock star) and Isabel (Grace’s best friend) are further into developing their hate/love/hate relationship and in between caustic remarks must come together to not only help Grace and Sam stay together, but to help both of them stay alive.

To cut to the chase, I really, really liked this book. Obviously, if I’ve followed the story through to the third round. Stiefvater has enviable talent when it comes to poetic lines like: “My pulse was shallow and fast, a moth destroying itself on a light” making what could come across as slow moments in the plot enjoyable to read. Kind of lets the reader roll the flavor of the moment around on one’s tongue. I also LOVE the concept of temperature/seasonally based lycanthropy versus the traditional lunar lycanthropy.

My criticism of Forever would be that I wanted to see a little more solidity in what was holding Grace and Sam together. There weren’t many tender, “alone together” moments to remind you why their bond was so strong. I like that their love is sweet, but it seems to lack passion. Sam’s extreme sensitivity was a bit of a turn-off for me, but it may be appealing to the younger audience.When she changed back into her human skin, they didn’t even kiss for several days, which I didn’t understand at all. The love of your life (whom you’ve been waiting months for) comes back to you and even knowing you only have one short summer to be with them, you don’t smooch them right away? Come on!

I also wish that the Cole and Isabel thing had gone farther, because both of them are so damaged, putting them together could only result in (amorous/arduous) fireworks. I feel that Stiefvater left enough of their relationship unexplained that she could easily revisit them in another book. Which I hope she does.

All in all, this Forever was definitely worth the wait.

4 of 5 stars


Quote of the Day: Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver

“Then I felt his breath on my ear as he said, voice barely audible, ‘”I am alone in the world, and yet not alone enough to make each hour holy. I am lowly in this world, and yet not lowly enough for me to be just a thing to you, dark and shrewd. I want my will and I want to go with my will as it moves towards action.”‘ He paused, long, the only sound his breath, a little ragged, before he went on, “‘And I want, in those silent, somehow faltering times, to be with someone who knows, or else alone, I want to reflect everything about you, and I never want to be too blind or too ancient to keep your profound wavering image with me. I want to unfold. I don’t want to be folded anywhere, because there, where I’m folded, I am a lie.”‘

-From Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater