No one knows what draws the water horses to the beaches of Thisby year after year. It is never safe–not when a capall could appear at any time bigger than a regular horse, faster too, and much more dangerous. It is never safe but it is never so dangerous as the first of November–race day.
Each year the race draws tourists from the mainland coming to try their luck in the races or observe from the relative safety of the cliffs surrounding the beach. The racers keep their own counsel on their reasons–some seek glory while others hope to prove their worth guiding a capall down the race path and well away from the tempting waves of the sea. The race purse itself is, of course, another motivation.
Sean Kendrick cares little for any of that. All he wants is Corr–the one water horse he can’t have. Corr remains elusively out of reach race after race. Until this year at least.
Puck Connolly has already lost a great deal to the water horses of Thisby. Yet the races might be her only way to hold onto her older brother before the mainland spirits him away forever. Is the winning purse from one race worth challenging some of Thisby’s most basic traditions as the first girl to ride on race day? Is it worth riding beside the horses that have already taken so much?
Only one rider can win on race day–if they can stay alive long enough to finish the course–and the stakes for both Sean and Puck couldn’t be higher but as this unlikely pair trains side-by-side they might find a greater prize than anything from the race purse in The Scorpio Races (2011) by Maggie Stiefvater.
If Stiefvater proved her appeal and gained wide popularity (not to mention New York Times Bestselling Author status) with her Shiver trilogy about the (were)wolves of Mercy Falls, she proves her range and talent with The Scorpio Races. Evocative and charming this novel is as much an experience as it is a book.
In the tradition of Diana Wynne Jones and many other talented fantasy authors, Stiefvater has not just written a story in The Scorpio Races. She has created a world. The island of Thisby and the beautiful, deadly capall uisce (pronounced CAPple ISHka) come vividly to life with each page as the culture (and inhabitants) of Thisby become as much a part of the story as the plot itself.
Told in chapters alternating between Sean and Puck’s narrative voice, this book has not one but two winning narrators readers will want to cheer for. Filled with beautiful landscapes, memorable characters and a fierce hope and affection for a great many things The Scorpio Races is a beautiful, satisfying, fantasy that will stay with readers long after the race is finished one way or another.
Possible Pairings: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake, Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley, Entwined by Heather Dixon, Caraval by Stephanie Garber, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper, Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox, The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones, Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier, The Keeper of the Mist by Rachel Neumeier, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler, For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund, The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski, Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, I Rode a Horse of Milk White Jade by Diane Lee Wilson
*This book was acquired for review from the publisher at BEA 2011