Publication Date: 18th October, 2012
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Age Group: Young Adult/New Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Adventure/Folk Lore
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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.The concept of the waterhorse fascinates me and I was greatly appreciative to learn of the Scoprio Races. Generally, the waterhorse is just one small facet of a story of the otherworld, and I never expected them to feature so heavily in a novel.
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
It's a delightful change from the infinitely long line of vampires, werewolves, zombies and pixies featuring in Young Adult literature. Not that Stiefvater didn't tackle werevoles well in The Wolves of Mercy Falls.
What I Liked: The vicious nature of the waterhorses. They weren't shy but sweet pets, they lived up to their mythos as cruel and capricious creatures. They were made even more frightening with their unrelenting thirst for blood.
The Scorpio Race, in November each year, was a wonderfully fantastic idea. Brutal and lethal, conquering the Race is an affirmation of masculine power - I can imagine the reality of it. As humans we are drawn to a life of danger.
It was the desperation of the two protagonists, Puck and Sean, that captured my imagination. Winning the Race would save them, it was a necessity, not the desire for power of the other competitors.
I've seen complaints about the romance, about how unnecessary it is, or how forced, but I quite enjoyed it. Sean and Puck are two simple (but desperate) people who are drawn together by their desperate attempts to hold on to what they love.
I was amazed that the romance was slow when it happened so quickly, but it worked for these people in this story. They complement each other and are giving each other someone to rely on.
The world building was magnificent. The island of Thisby had a beautiful old world atmosphere. It starts off sleepy until the first capail uisce emerges from the water and the entire island becomes a festival. Stiefvater 's prose was lyrical. It had the same short and intense sentence style as Shiver byt she went much further. She created a world, one full of history and people and magic.
What I Didn't Like: The ending was almost too clean. Without spoiling it, I felt like I'd been given one of Disney's Happily Ever Afters, at the end of a labyrinth. I didn't want that. You want the characters to find their own way out, not to be guided to a tea party at the centre.
I didn't feel like we deserved the ending. I wanted more struggle from Puck and Sean before they reached their conclusion.
That said, one aspect of the ending (everyone knows what I'm talking about) was perfect. It was the kind of tragic happiness that is the perfect conclusion to this kind of story. It left me satisfied.
The Scorpio Races was a stand alone novel (finally, I don't need to wait months for the next instalment!) and I was left wanting more but quite satisfied by what I had. The perfect feeling when you finish a book.