Title: The Scorpio Races
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Synopsis: 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. (Goodreads)
I’ve been meaning to pick up this author’s books for a while now, and I picked this because I wanted a nice little standalone title to let me get a feel for their writing. I was rather underwhelmed, but I think it was mainly because of the slow and dragging pace. Everything leading up to the races seemed like a big routine: train horses, angst about life, fight with bratty antagonist, rinse and repeat.
I did like the main characters though, both on their own and as they interact. One of the most important things in Puck’s life is her family, so it was both touching and sad to see her work so hard for the sake of her family. She gets pushed and kicked around by other characters in the book, but she still pushes on despite all her detractors. Her determination really makes me admire her. Sean is more of a loner and his main companion his is water horse, Corr. What I like about him is his connection to horses and how he has this strange connection to them.
As for how they interact with each other, I really like their dynamic. Sean’s kind of like this world-weary rider who knows practically everything about horses and the races. Puck is this new and scrappy young contender who all that knowledge that Sean has in his head. It would make sense that Sean would be the one teaching her, but as with all these kinds of stories, she manages to teach him some things too.
I haven’t got much to say about the world-building, because I think their world is basically our own but in an earlier time and with water horses that come out of the sea. As for other details, I felt that the supporting characters were well-written. The antagonist was really able to make me feel angry and want his face punched in. Puck’s family is both sweet and heart-breaking at the same time. Everyone in their town has a story that’s pretty fascinating.
Overall: Even though I liked the characters, the story really just dragged on and on until I just wished that it would end. If you like horses, this is a pretty nice book because the connection between the characters and their horses is so great. Still, there is some violence so be careful. Beware of the sluggish pace too.