The Scorpio Races

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THIS story owns my heart. OWNS it.

I'm struggling for words to adequately describe my experience while reading this phenomenal story.

All I know is that a piece of my heart now belongs to “The sky and the sand and the sea and Corr” and I don't want it back.

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A slow-build to a great conclusion

After spending several years hearing about the awesome and wonderful author who is Maggie Stiefvater, I figured it was time to accept the inevitable and read something of hers. Everyone insisted that I read The Raven Boys, but The Scorpio Races won out. Why, you ask? Because it doesn’t have a planned sequel, and I hate series. Great reasoning, I know. But there you have it.

The good news is that I ended up really liking The Scorpio Races, so I’ll probably pick up the more highly recommended novel at a later date.

The Scorpio Races is probably one of the most original and fascinating fantasy novels I’ve read. I’m not a big fan of horses—after being forced to watch every film about horses in existence a few years ago, my interest pretty much hit the hay. Stiefvater’s horses, however, are an entirely different thing. The water horses, or capaill uisce, described in this book are not tame. They are monsters who delight in killing men and eating anything with a pulse. And even though people ride these horses every fall, they’re doing it at the highest personal risk.

Sean Kendrick, one of this book’s two narrating characters, is the unchallenged horse whisperer figure. His ability to handle the capricious capaill uisce is almost magic. Sean has a special bond with them, and especially with one horse named Corr, who he dreams of owning some day. On the other hand, there’s Kate “Puck” Connolly, who has never followed the races and has no interest in them. Together, the two of them team up in a somewhat self-serving effort to get what they want from Malvern, the man who controls everything on their tiny island home.

This book started off slow, and I think it stays that way until the last 50 pages or so, when the race happens. How much success you have with The Scorpio Races probably depends on how invested you get in Puck and Sean’s stories. The bond between them grows slowly, and their efforts to achieve their goals are told in a subtle, honest style. The race, when it happened, was well done, though over quickly. I was expecting something along the lines of the chariot race from Ben Hur, but that entire sequence was much less flashy.

One thing I’ve consistently heard about Maggie Stiefvater is her prose and how distinctive it is. I’ve heard that it’s gorgeous, but maybe dense and harder to get the cadence of if you’re not feeling the story. Personally, I thought this author’s writing was very good, but not as mindblowing as I’d been lead to believe. There were occasional turns of phrase that I adored and had to highlight, like when Sean describes the wind as “a live, starving thing”. But at the same time, when Puck described rain as “the sky’s sweat”, I found myself less than impressed. But Stiefvater is a strong, masterful writer; that’s not in question. I feel like, though, that I’d been lead to believe her descriptions would be more abundant and flowery than they are in actuality. It’s not a bad thing, just unexpected.

The Scorpio Races is a really good book. I’m really impressed with the author’s execution, her characterization, and the way everything came together. (The end scenes was totally perfect, by the way.) I think this is worth reading, and I’ll be sure to read more of Stiefvater’s novels in the future.

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5.0
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5.0
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5.0
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5.0

My Little Pony

As I’ve been going on my Maggie Stiefvater binge, I’ve realized that while her stories incorporate fantastical elements, she really writes about the human condition. Reading "The Scorpio Races" completely affirmed this idea. While on the surface the book seems to be about a race on a tiny island featuring bloodthirsty water horses, it’s really about a teenage girl’s struggle to deal with her small immediate family crumbling apart.

The beauty of Stiefvater’s writing is that you don’t realize you’ve just delved into the psyche of a character until you finish her work. The driving force appears at first glance to be some sadistic horses and making sure the characters escape unscathed from getting an appendage chomped off by some aggressive horse teeth. In reality, it’s the tension of making sure that the main character, Puck, gets her family back together. Upon Puck’s journey of entering and training for the Scorpio Races she regularly encounters obstacles that could send her older brother away to the mainland or leave her and her young brother homeless. To top it all off, her parents are dead.

Following Puck through this difficult time is a captivating experience. And now thanks to Stiefvater I’ll never look at horses the same way again.

Good Points
A whole new frightening take on horses.
Intricate characters who you begin to genuinely care for.
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(Updated: August 03, 2012)
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
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5.0

Wonderfully Original, and Water Horses are So Cool!

I had never read anything Maggie Stiefvater before ‘The Scorpio Races,’ but now I feel like I’ve been missing out. Stiefvater’s way of writing pulled me straight into this novel; it is lyrical and rather haunted, in a way, and I loved it! This is a refreshing story with a unique plotline and subject matter; off the top of my head, I can’t think of another YA author who has tackled bloodthirsty, vicious water horses. Which is sad, because I want to read more about them!

Native islander Puck Connolly wants nothing to do with the Scorpio Races because of a tragedy in her past involving the capaill uisce, the sleek, brutal horses from the water that are caught and trained to run in the annual race along the beach. The island Puck lives on, Thisby, is small, and everyone who lives there basically knows everyone else and their business, even if they’re somewhat secretive, like the Connollys. Sean Kendrick is also a native islander, but he primarily lives for the race every year and the water horse that he loves, Corr.

Puck’s family situation becomes even more precarious when her older brother decides to abandon her and her younger for the mainland, and the Connolly home may be taken away by the richest man in town, who owns their house as well as Sean Kendrick’s Corr. In a last ditch attempt to keep her brother on the island, Puck enters the year’s Scorpio Race with her horse Dove, a shocker since girls and regular horses have never been in the races before. Puck and Sean begin a strange relationship as they end up training for the races together, both with much at stake and needing to win.

Sooo, I thought the characters in this book were awesome. Puck is feisty, independent, stubborn and fun; I loved how she has worries and troubles but she pushes through them. She doesn’t let convention stand in her way, even when it seems like everyone is against her. She’s just fantastic. And Sean! Seeeean! He’s just…dark and wonderful. He’s prickly and distant, aloof and cool, but not in an obnoxious way. He has his pride and his bravery, but he wants Corr as well, which is his driving force and motivation in this novel. His love for Corr is fathomless and genuine, and there’s such a connection between horse and boy. In his relationship with Pick, he doesn’t coddle her or even really show her much affection in the conventional way, but you can just feel the emotions under his skin.

The water horses were so scary and cool at the same time; I could see how riding one would be exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. You would be riding one of the fastest animals on earth, but, hey, it might toss you off and eat you or plunge into the ocean with you and give you a good drowning. They seem enticing yet horrible at the same time, but I have to say, if I was given a chance to ride Corr, I’d definitely be all for that.

The end was perfect; not exactly a happy ending but an extremely satisfying one that gave the readers and the characters hope. It fit with the tone of the book, which is dark and a little brooding but not truly angst-ridden.

Awesome book, very different from other faerie/magic type YA books! Go forth and read this book!

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Overall rating 
 
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5.0
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5.0

Awesome to the Corr

I'm so glad I gave this book a chance. I'm not very interested in horses or races so I wouldn't have picked this up if it hadn't been written by Maggie Stiefvater. The water horses completely caught my attention from the begining. Stiefvater makes you love and fear the beasts just as much as the natives. The story was set on a tiny island, giving it a homey yet strange feel. The people were struggling and these dangerous races on deadly fae hores brought life to the harsh way of living. The characters are honest and earnest. Overall it was a great book to read and didn't feel over done.

Good Points
Everything
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Overall rating 
 
5.0
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5.0

Breathlessly Horrifying & Beautifully Heartbreaking

I once read that Maggie Stiefvater's writing was "like music". I didn't understand what that meant until I read The Scorpio Races. Her words flow from the pages until they are floating and dancing softly in your head, helping you to vividly imagine the world she is creating so that you feel like a participant, rather than a spectator. The world she creates in The Scorpio Races is unlike anything I have ever experienced, and while on the surface its just a story about a girl, a boy, and their two horses, Maggie's writing makes it so much more.

Having both Puck and Sean's PoVs to alternate between painted a complete picture of Thisby, the island they inhabit which produces the blood-lusting water horses (the capall uisce, pronounced CAPple ISHka), and made it a living, breathing organism - I could feel the wind coming up over the cliffs, the sand biting at my skin, and the smell of the salty ocean. Every time I put down my book, those sounds and experiences would start to fade and I would miss them, and an ache would develop until I could return to this magical world.

I loved both Sean and Puck. They both share a love for Thisby, and their reasons for racing, while very different, were both noble and heartbreaking. Sean is nothing like Sam from the Mercy Falls trilogy - he is dark and fierce and commanding - and I loved him for it. His search for stillness, in an attempt to keep his emotions in check, was a display of strength that I admired and I respected him for it. Puck is also fierce in her own way, and in order to save her family she is determined to finish what she started, even though it shakes her to her very core. She's a little rough around the edges, but her admittance of this fault is endearing rather than off-putting.

I expected a story about horse racing. What I got was a story about self-discovery and the value in proving to yourself that you are stronger then what others would define for you; about finding out what you would be willing to sacrifice to get what you desperately needed. It was breathlessly horrifying and beautifully heartbreaking.

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Overall rating 
 
5.0
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5.0

Some race to win. Others race to survive.

It starts at the beginning of every November: The Scorpio Races. Men attempt to ride the flesh eating water horses, the capall uisce. Some riders live. Others die.

Sean Kendrick is the returning champion of the Scorpio Races, he has won four times in a row. He races for his boss and for the money that may be able to buy the capall uisce he loves very dearly. He is a young man of very few words and he keeps his emotions down deep inside him. He has one leg on the land while the other is in the sea. He has a passion and understanding of both land horses and water horses alike, which no one can fully grasp.
Sean is a quite reserved person with the only goal of living in his late father's home with his blood-red capaill uisce, Corr. He is written in everyone's view as a hero that can tame even the wildest of these horses. When the book is written in his eyes though, you get quite a different feel for him.

Puck Connolly (Kate Connolly) joined the races for a very different reason, she must win to keep her home and her elder brother. Her parents had both died from the monsters that she must race. She enters the competition made for these killers, with her normal land horse, Dove. Puck is the first women to enter this terrible race and she is frowned upon and even attacked. She persists and the November tides turn forever.
Puck is a girl with a sharp tongue that has overcome hardships with her brothers by her side. She is strong even in the darkest of times and there is a fiery passion that burns deep inside her. Her entering the races proves that she is brave and full of courage. All the men and even the women of the island frown upon her but she proves them wrong, so wrong.

With their futures tied together, Sean and Puck discover something more than rivalry in the races. This story is bursting with persistence, courage, romance and so much more. With terrifying twists, blood and horses, this book is truly beautiful.

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Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
5.0
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5.0
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4.0

Great story!

Misfortune is what falls upon Kate, Finn, and Gabriel Connolly after the death of their parents leaves them poor and without any family on the small island of Thisby. All they have left is their house, their land, and a mare called Dove. Kate, or as everyone on the island calls her, Puck, the woman of the house now, has as much of a temper as the cold sea that surrounds the island. Each October, that forbidding sea spits out strange carnivorous horse-like creatures the Islanders call the capaill uisce. Each year, the men on the island race those mysterious animals in November, the time when the capaill are the most dangerous. If you win the races, you get a nice purse full of money, if you don't, you're either dead or a loser.


Sean Kendrick is famous at these races, having won four times on his bright red capaill Corr. He too is an orphan, having lost his mother to the mainland and his father to the races. He works for a man named Malvern, the owner of a horse yard and most of the island. He is quiet and reserved, and the thing he wants the most is to live in his father's house, with his horse Corr.


The two's future ties together when Kate decides to ride in the races with her horse Dove. The odds are against her, can she make it? The first girl to ride in the races, on a regular old mare?


This is a great story filled with romance, persistance, and the occasional creepy turn. Action filled and mysterious, it's a great read!



Good Points
Great story all together
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Overall rating 
 
5.0
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5.0
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5.0

Possibly My Favorite Book of 2011

The Scorpio Races hooked me by the first chapter. I was enamored with the world Stiefvater created and the beauty in her prose. Horses, for me, have never been interesting. I can honestly say that I connected with the water horses and the land horses alike. The writing made that possible by providing these animals with human emotions and characteristics to where we understood them even absent words. When they screamed, I felt a little part of me clench up. Everything about Thisby, the Scorpio Races, and the horses kept me reading from start to finish in just two short days.

Sean Kendrick. What can you say about a guy who has little to say himself? All the characters were dynamic, but none more than Sean. I love him. No, I adore him. I have never read any one quite like Sean before, and maybe that’s why I had to keep reading. He is the very best at dealing with the water horses, and that showed, as well as his love for them.

Puck Connolly. She reminds me a little of other female YA characters, but that’s okay. She never irritated me or made me want to chuck the book across the room. Stiefvater never had to tell us who she was. She always showed us.

When you close this book, it will still be with you. Days after, I can guarantee that. The last few lines make it so. And even now, as I write this, I can clearly picture Thisby and even smell it. I can smell that island and the ocean like its right beside me. This was my first Maggie Stiefvater book, but it will not be my last. I give The Scorpio Races a 5 out of 5 and recommend it to everyone, especially those who like amazing world building and rich prose.

Good Points
beautifully written
dynamic characters
awesome world building
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Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
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5.0
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5.0

A New Favorite

This may be my favorite of all of Maggie's books. Written in her trademark lyrical melancholy style, this book is both dark and hopeful. The setting is amazing. Truly one of the book's characters. Puck is spunky and contrary and brave and isn't easily seduced by romance. Neither is Sean. I love how well-rounded the two of them are, and the slow bloom of their relationship benefits from that.

The plot is perfectly paced. It really isn't a story about water horses (which are freaky monsters, I kid you not). Instead, it's a story about courage, and hope, and figuring out who you really are and what you really need. All of that plays out against the backdrop of the Scorpio Races and the incredible horses. I was thoroughly fascinated the entire time.

I wouldn't liked a little more romance in the romance moments. A little bit of lingering. But at the same time, Puck and Sean aren't characters who can afford to linger on romance. Their relationship was both sweet and authentic.

I would recommend this book to anyone without reservation.

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