Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Review of The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

The Scorpio RacesIt 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.
(Summary from GoodReads)

Although some people deplore Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver with the fire of a thousand suns, I personally was blown away by it and therefore plan to read everything she ever writes, even if it may not sound like my type of book.  Once The Scorpio Races won the Printz (after receiving rave reviews from ample bloggers I trust), I had to pick it up.  With its gorgeously written atmosphere and compelling tension, Stiefvater’s latest release immediately found a place on my all time favorites list.

I just wasn’t sure about the idea of killer water horses that Stiefvater refers to as capaill usice, but they were some of the most terrifying mythical creatures I’ve ever read about.  In an author’s note Stiefvater mentions how many attempts it took her to write a story about water horses that she was happy with, and I’m glad she kept at it, because this story is so well done.  The novel also has a slight ethical component, and reading about how certain characters treated the capaill usice left me shuddering and on the verge of tears in some places.

The plot of this novel isn’t terribly complex in that the characters essentially wind up in a catch twenty-two.  However, both Puck and Sean are deeply passionate, headstrong people, and there was no way I could resist caring about them or their stories.  If anyone was wondering whether or not Stiefvater does characterization well, The Scorpio Races will indubitably answer your question.

As much as I’ve ranted and raved, I haven’t addressed the best part of this book (although, really, I think the whole part of this book is the best part): the atmosphere.  You will taste the salt of sea air and smell the sweetness of the November cakes the second you open this book.  If the island Stiefvater wrote about were real, I would be there right now.  Guess I will have to settle for testing out her November cakes recipe in my own kitchen.

Most of my comments are probably things you’ve heard elsewhere.  I can live with that.  Regardless, you need to know that The Scorpio Races is Stiefvater’s best novel by a long shot and showcases what a fantastic writer she is in every possible way.  

Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. However, I also bought a hardcover, because I want to own finished copies of all of Maggie's books.


  1. Glad to hear you loved this one-I thought it was a little long as a reader who loves a fast-paced story but I think fans of Stiefvater will be very pleased to luxuriate in this book's setting.

  2. This book was great! Maggie Stiefvater did a MUCH better job on this book than the Shiver series. This book is along the same caliber as The Hunger Games. Great action. Interesting plot. Intriguing characters. Clean reading. And a little romance. Just what I was looking for.
    Highly recommended site for Katmai Alaska Bear Tours



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