Early 5bat! Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

October 14, 2011 Review 5

Early 5bat! Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie StiefvaterThe Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
on October 18, 2011
Genres: Fantasy, Romantic, Young Adult
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 416
Sexual Content: Kissing
Reviewed by: Abigail
5 Stars

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.

THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater is very different sort of book from her Shiver or Ballad series.  It still has the same lovely writing and emotional layers, but the romance is much more like the classical definition of that word and less like the modern understanding.  There are several love stories, but they aren’t just the sort where a boy falls in love with a girl (although I did particularly love that sort here).  This is a thrilling and heroic adventure, full of brave and daring characters, and soft and bittersweet feelings.

The characters are wildly different, but equally appealing.  Puck is quietly strong with a fierce determination and a loyalty that borders on compulsion regarding those she loves.  She has a quick temper that she’s mostly successful at keeping trapped inside, but I loved her more for the moments when it bubbled up out of her.  The consequences of which were often tragic, but so real, so honest that I just became all the more invested in her as a character.

While I was surprised to connect so strongly with Puck, I had no doubt that Maggie Stiefvater would create yet another male protagonist for me to love.  She excels at writing the male perspective in a way no other YA writer today does, male or female.  I fell in love with Sean’s strength, his honor, his bravery, and his wisdom almost from page one.  And I continued to fall further even after I’d finished reading.  That’s the mark of a great character.

But I would be remiss if I failed to mention the two other main characters in THE SCORPIO RACES: Dove and Corr.  The fact that they are horse takes nothing of away from their depth as characters or their development in the story.  That’s due again to Maggie’s writing and also her mythology.  Water horses, or cappall usice, as they are called, are truly terrifying, yet majestic in a dangerously alluring way.  I both feared and loved them.

I always feel bad for whatever book I end up reading after Maggie Stiefvater because nothing else comes close to replicating her peculiar magic that fully engages not just the senses, but the heart as well.  And that is true again with THE SCORPIO RACES, a quiet, almost understated story full of bright bursts of action made all the more poignant for the emotional underpinnings built so lovingly in this book about life and death and love and horses.  I drank down every beautiful word.

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5 Responses to “Early 5bat! Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater”

  1. Rain Maiden

    I want to know more about these Water Horse. Gotta check out this one. Thanks for the review Abigail, those five bats get my attention.

  2. Anonymous

    That review was enough to make me go right to my library's website and place a hold on The Scorpio Races. The book sounds wonderful.

    Mickie T

  3. Amber Hughes

    Wonderful review! This is the second 5 star review I've read about this book. I've had it pre-ordered for awhile now and I can't wait to read it! I love, love, love Maggie's writing. She is one of my favorite YA authors 🙂

  4. Abigail

    Mickie – i hope you don't have to wait long, this is another wonderful book from one of my absolute favorite authors.

    Amber – I've been seeing lots of perfect reviews too. If you're already a fan…you will be blown away. It is different from her previous books, but just as memorable.