Every November, the people of the town of Skarmouth catch the beautiful water horses from the ocean and ride them in the Scorpio Races. Thanks to the murderous tendencies of water horses, the body count tends to be high.
“The Scorpio Races” by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic, October 2011) flips between two points of view: Puck, who will lose her home if she can’t win the race and Sean, who will have the horse he’s been training for years taken away if he can’t win. Both need to come in first to keep what they love — and despite their budding friendship, they won’t let anything stand in their way.
If you remember Stiefvater’s name from her fluffy werewolf trilogy, “The Wolves of Mercy Falls,” get those thoughts out of your head now. The only thing they have in common is her poetic writing style.
Unlike many other books I read, “The Scorpio Races” was one I immediately wanted to reread; I have a nagging feeling that I’m going to keep this book on my favorites shelf for quite some time.
The characters are shockingly raw and easy to relate to. I love both Puck and Sean — I was rooting for both of them the entire time and sat on the edge of my seat, clinging fervently to the pages of the book, as I neared the end. The setting is described so vividly and so gorgeously that I’d want to live there, dangers and all. The plot sucks you in and doesn’t let go.
I was hesitant going into the story because of the melodrama of Stiefvater’s other series; however, the romance here is handled delicately and more realistically than anything I’ve read in any variation of fantasy or paranormal in a long time.
But the horses! Oh, the horses! I’m a sucker for mythological creatures in all forms; I can argue over them (as well as profess my love of them) for hours. Stiefvater’s take on the water horses is absolutely brilliant. I can’t help but love them, even with their consumption of human flesh. If you need a reason that’s not plot or characters or writing to read a story, this is it: if the rest of the book had sucked, the horses would still have made the book worth reading.
But since the rest of the book rocks, I would say add it to your must-read list.