Monday, November 23, 2015

Book Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater

Title: The Scorpio Races
Author: Maggie Steifvater
Published: September, 2011 by Scholastic
(Amazon / Goodreads)

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 choice. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

This book is so beloved and after reading it I can understand why. It's the kind of book that works it's way into your heart and before you even realize how much it has effected you, you're crying tears of sadness and joy. I haven't read all of Maggie's books but the ones I have read, I've really enjoyed. She has a very particular style and I love the way she builds worlds and creates characters. The Scorpio Races was no exception.

This Thestral is supposed to represent the capaill uisce
I think my favorite thing about it was probably the setting. What and amazing place, Thisby. It was a place that felt so familiar but so unique at the same time. It's like the kind of place that could be anywhere but seems like something you have never experience before. On the one hand it had this gritty realism that made everything seem so bleak and atmospheric but on the other hand it had this beauty and fantasy to it. Maggie has always done a great job walking that line. But everything was so descriptive that you could perfectly visualize the waves crashing along the beach, the white cliffs, the fishing village, and of course the capaill uisce. The vicious and powerful water horses were such an amazing part of the world and this book. The world of The Scorpio Races was absolutely brilliant and it made for the perfect setting for this book that was just as bleak and atmospheric.

The plot and pacing of this book really built to something thrilling and fantastic. It took me a little while to get into the book and get used to Maggie's writing style but when I did I was hooked on the book. It took me three days to read the first 120 pages but after that I couldn't put it down. I often complain about the beginning of the book being slow and the ending going to quickly but here it totally worked. It slowly built to a huge climax that had me enthralled. I read the last 120 pages in about two hours because I couldn't put the book down, I was so invested. Similarly I'm surprised that I didn't miss the horse racing even though it was a much smaller part than I expected. There were a lot of different elements to the story and each part of it was interesting and complex.

I think that is because so much of the book is about the characters and their relationships. I have always loved Maggie's characters. She can write a whole book full of complex and unique characters and In The Scorpio Races she once again made me fall in love with every single one of them, especially the main characters. The book alternates perspectives between Puck and Sean who are both so similar and different at the same time. For one thing, they're adorably perfect in their brooding. It's easy to empathize with them because neither one has had an easy life. They're both Thisby orphans, trying to make their way in a place that they love but it's hard to make it there. It's made Puck sassy and surly while Sean is brooding and stoic. Like the island itself they have been hardened by their experiences but they're still sweet and caring. What I love about Puck is that she's not trying to be this feminist hero in the races because of the political stance. She's just being herself, which is as much a statement as anything. Sean also is just trying to be himself and do what he loves, which is working with and racing capaill uisce. He's really good at it, and could have been cocky and conceited but he isn't. I was invested in both of their success, which was really hard because for one to succeed the other one would not be able to. But that just added to the drama and investment in the book.

But while the characters were great in their characterization I loved the relationships between them. Puck and Sean had a great relationship for one thing. They understand each other so deeply that things grow throughout the book. Their romance was such a small part of the book that for someone like me who is romancephobic, it was perfect. They were both so dismissive of it despite the feelings that seemed pretty obvious to everyone around them and ultimately them. It was a great slowburn. But the non-romantic relationships. Puck's relationship with her brothers was so realistic making it both heartbreaking and sweet. Sean's relationship with his boss' son and his boss was so interesting. But then there is the amazing connection between Sean and Corr, his horse. That to me is the real love story.

I absolutely loved this book in the end. It took me a while to get into it but once I did, I was taken on a roller coaster ride of emotions that has me wanting more from the characters and the world. I can absolutely see why this book is so popular, it's beautiful and atmospheric with characters you cannot help but love.

I give The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater 9.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. If you are one of the people like me who hasn't read this book then I would absolutely recommend it. It has a bit of a slow start but keep reading and let the bleak and atmospheric island of Thisby take you through the lives of Puck and Sean on the back of capaill uisce. In the end you will become attached.

Have you read The Scorpio Races? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. Great review! I've still never read any of this authors books. I feel left out LOL!!!

  2. Yes yes so much yes!! I'm so glad (but of course) that you loved this one!! Maggie uses such a minimal amount of words yet there are so potent. I've rarely seen more feeling behind anyone's writing. This book made me love her to the heavens and back. Great review my dear friend!

  3. OOh nice! I picked this one up a year or two ago and still need to read it! But I have heard such amazing things about it, and I love Maggie's other books, I feel confident that I will love this one too! Great review!

  4. Awesome review. This book has been on my TBR list for so long. I really want to read it.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  5. I've never read this one (or anything by this author, really), but this sounds better than her other series, to be honest. I'm a tiny bit worried that it took you so long to get into it, but I definitely might have to pick this one up! I love the GIFs that you chose, by the way! :D

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

  6. I honestly enjoyed this book right until the very end. I don't understand the hype and I never will---not that you care lol but still. I'm glad that you enjoyed it.

  7. Awwww, HP GIFs!! Love them!
    I still haven't read this one, even if I'm a huge fan of Maggie's Raven Cycle books! I really need to get myself this one and read it! Give that the romance got your romancephobic approval, I'm sure I'm gonna love it too!