~ Book Review: The Scorpio Races ~

Published: October 18, 2011

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

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.

Find It On: Goodreads / Amazon

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I went into The Scorpio Races thinking that it would be a simple novel involving a horse race of some kind. Since I enjoyed Hildalgo, I looked forward to trying this novel. I love that this novel added some complexity to the race, and I love the author’s take on the whole experience.  Every November over the island of Thisby, water horses are ridden in an epic race where some die before making it to the end. For being a novel about a race, it took almost the entire novel for the race to take place. This threw me off a lot as I expected the race to play a larger role rather than the novel being mostly set-up that led up to the event. I am all for a slower pace as I love build-up, but I feel the entire race was rushed and lost a lot of significance. It still was a plot device as the story wouldn’t exist without it, but the actual events in the race did not seem to land as well.

The story has two main characters with Katherine “Puck” Donnelly becoming the first woman to compete in the races and Sean Kendrick, the reigning champion. Both characters have a lot of depth as each have their own motivations and backstories. Puck is trying to win the race for her family and signs up with her land horse. Sean lost his mother to the mainland and his father died in the race and lives with the Malverns, Benjamin and his son Mutt, where he has his water horse Corr. Sean wants to leave the Malverns, but can’t as he needs money first to officially have Corr. When Puck and Sean interact, there is a slow burn between them that does seem to develop naturally. Both want to win the race and that is their focus, but they begin to connect with each other.

While there are human relationships in the story, the horses are the true stars. The bonds that exist between them and their owners, especially the connection between Sean and Corr, are explored in a lot of depth. The horses take over the story, in a good way for me, where they are highlighted in a lot of detail. For those readers who aren’t as interested in horses, including some day-to-day care, they may be bored during these sections of the story. The way the characters and horses weave together was well done and there was a lot of description in the story. Together it made the novel feel very atmospheric and it was easy to picture everything. Overall, I think the pacing, especially as a standalone, did not work, but the writing itself was well-done and worth trying more from the author in the future.

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