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The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

The Scorpio Races

by Maggie Stiefvater

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Oh, how I LOVED this book! Let me count the ways:

1. It was written by Maggie freakin' Stiefvater!

2. It's about horses.

3. Also evil, flesh-eating, faerie water horses. That race.

4. Sean Kendrick.

5. Puck is a fabulously fierce female lead.

6. Maggie Stiefvater gets what it's like to be a true horse person and portrays it oh so accurately. I've read books before that are all like, "This is a story about a girl and her horse" that just don't get it right. At all. This book gets it very, VERY right.

7. Sean Kendrick.

8. Puck's relationship with her brother Finn.

9. Puck and Dove (her horse).

10. Sean and Corr (his evil, flesh-eating, faerie water horse).

11. Corr and Sean (yes, there is a difference between this and the aforementioned relationship. If you're a horse person you'll completely understand this).

12. The island of Thisby and its traditions, culture, and horse loving people.

13. Sean Kendrick.

14. This: "I say, 'I will not be your weakness, Sean Kendrick.' Now he looks at me. He says, very softly, 'It's late for that, Puck.' "

15. The fact that Corr is a big, red, racing machine. He reminds me of my all time favorite horse that was also a big, red, racing machine. Although I'm pretty sure Secretariat wasn't drawn to the sea. Nor did he have a penchant for eating people.

16. Sean Kendrick.

17. November cakes.

18. Horses.

19. Sean Kendrick.

20. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. ( )
  dkgarner95 | Jul 29, 2015 |
This novel was far more than I was expecting based on the title and blurb. While the story does build up towards the race, it is by no means the focus of the story (the race itself only takes up 14 of the 410 pages). Instead, the novel is more of a snapshot, allowing the reader to experience what life is like on Thisby. Stiefvater's attention to detail is nothing sort of staggering, helping add to the panoramic experience and allowing me to feel as though I was actually there.

The novel does a really good job of balancing the supernatural and mundane aspects of the story in a way that allows the story to feel believable. Although the capaill uisce are magical creatures, they don't feel tacked on and are a completely believable part of the world. The vicious and unpredictable nature of the horses help add a level of tension to the story, which in turn made it impossible for me to guess how the novel would end. In the final act of the novel, I just devoured the story. I had no idea who would win (or even survive) the race and therefore I just couldn't put the book down.

Yet it's the characters that really make the story for me. Both Puck and Sean feel like real characters, flawed but ultimately very likable. They could act selfishly (Puck) or insensitively (Sean). Yet they still had noble thoughts at heart. Sean sought his freedom – the chance to live the life of his choice with the capaill uisce that he loves. Puck’s issues are more grounded in the physical, a strong desire to hold her family together and remain on the island that she calls home. Both of the characters are very strong and capable, able to hold their own against people who wish them ill and not afraid to speak their mind. Because of this, I found it difficult to choose who I wanted to win the race and for me, this made the story more effective. While I would be glad for either one to be the victor, it also meant that one of them would have to sacrifice their dreams.

All in all, it's just a stunning novel - even better than Shiver. I can't wait to read more from this author. ( )
  ArkhamReviews | Jun 10, 2015 |
Nine Years Earlier........ It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.
Maggie is a killer for these lines to start off books. Tell me that have not got your interest, go on, I dare you!
Sean is on the beach with his father, today is race day. The beach is never safe, today it is dangerous. This is where you learn of the capiall uisce. The water horses. Deadly (meat eaters, including their riders). The men of the village race them, on race day. Sean takes to them naturally. Not that he will ride. His father rides a red stallion. Then dies by the teeth of a grey. Sean watches from the cliff.
I don't think often of my father's strung out body through the reddening surf. Instead I remember him as he was before the race: afraid. I won't make the same mistake.

Here we meet Puck Connolly. Who's best friend is her horse Dove. This is were you get the opinion of the uisces' from just a normal family. They have no choice about them. They have to stay away. They have to be on the look out for stray ones, incase they are the next target. Puck's mum and dad are gone. Her and two brothers live in the house they always lived in. Struggle to pay to stay there. I love the dynamics between them, it's a family. A real argument, a real love.

Sean nine years later is a stable hand and race champion. Obviously. He loves both kinds of horses. The only trouble is, he works for the rich man of the village. The rich man who owns the red stallion, that was once his father's. He wants to buy it back. The man don't want to lose Sean knowing that's the only reason he stays.

Puck is basically told that her brother haven't been paying the rent. She gets time off the rich man, if she enters the races and wins, she will win the prize. Of course she will. She wants to save her house. And this my friend is how the book really starts. Puck Connolly entering the races with her normal horse. Sean finds her brave I think and starts to teach her. Helps her with where to ride and so on. It's all rather brilliant! I love it! I courses uproar, the men think she should not ride. Not only is she a girl but a girl with an ordinary horse. Unspeakable. There are no rules. She rides. She rides and kicks ass! Puck and Sean are my favourite duo that I have read about.

This whole book has a magical feeling to it. You can feel the wind whipping your hair across your face. You can imagine the sea breeze. The horror when someone dies from the uisce. It felt like I was stood on a small island. These horses are so amazingly written about, they could be real. Watch how close you get to the sea ;)

Maggie wins every time with me! Every single time.... I love every novel this one writes although I do have my favourites. Keep em coming I say!!
This is a young adult novel but I would say adults go and read it. Do not let age put you off. She really brings something unique to this. Plus it's only the main characters that are young and even then Sean is 19. There are plenty of village folks that are older.
READ IT, READ IT and oh yeah READ IT!!! ( )
  darceypaige | May 16, 2015 |
I wanted to read this one because I have enjoyed Maggie's other books and I have heard exceptional things about it. I have been reading so many contemporaries because I wasn't paying attention with scheduling since I usually alternate and I needed a break into the paranormal fantasy world, and this did it for me.

There are two characters that we get the perspective from, and while I have a feeling there will be some romance, it didn't start out that way. It showed us the tremendous losses the characters have experienced, both have lost parents, and are on the poor end of the spectrum, doing what they have to to survive. Kate aka Puck lives with her three brothers, and they scrape by after both of their parents were killed by the water horses that the island they live on survives because of. The tourist season during the races allows the community to survive year round. On the other hand, Sean has been racing in the races since he was really young, and now he is working with the big man on the island, the Maverns who own the stables for both regular horses and the water horses. Sean has such a touch with the animals and he helps train them.

The world building was great. I could picture their island of Thisby, and the terrifying at times horses from the sea. The sense of community but at the same time the isolation because everyone there has been touched by loss from the sea or the horses, but there are those that can't even imagine a different life somewhere else.

The plot was wonderfully placed, the mix of action and focus on characters kept my interest and I didn't want to put it down. I was in a bit of a reading slump, tired out of contemporary and then starting and not feeling multiple fantasies and paranormals. The great writing and characterization hooked me even when I was a bit skeptical over the lore of the horses. All of that skepticism fell away and I ended up enjoying a lot.

The cast of secondary characters were really well done as well. From Holly an American who comes for buying horses and to watch the races becomes close to Sean. Dory is the woman in charge of the betting and she takes up with Puck even though she tries at first to discourage her from racing. Puck's brothers Gabe and Finn all have a family dynamic that I enjoyed reading about. Finn was the younger and he seemed to have a bit of mental instability but then came through in big ways for Puck and the family when you least expect it. He is sweet, and works hard at some things, and there are times when I thought he didn't really know what was going on, but then showed himself capable and very competent. Gabe is wanting to leave the island and Puck can't really comprehend why because she loves the island, and she has such a close bond with her horse Dove. She tried to get Gabe to stay by declaring she was going to enter the races.

The Malverns, son Mutt who has it out for Sean, and the owner Benjamin who I couldn't get a clear read on, seemingly a villan because he is sticking to money, and then other times, seeming to give away that he knows Mutt isn't fit to take over for him, and Sean has such a way with the horses.

Sean and Puck did grow close, first with mutual respect for how they both cared for their horses beyond what others considered normal or natural. Then they recognized the attraction and fought it for all sorts of reasons. And then they helped each other, confided in each other, and their bond deepened. It never really got hot between the two but there was the promise.

I loved the growth of the two and the building suspense that carried through to the end. Speaking of the ending, it wasn't what I expected. I thought it would turn out differently, but I wasn't disappointed. It makes a lot of sense the way that she did it, and the twists that were hinted at looking back. I do wish that there was an epilogue. It made a fine ending, but I wanted things a bit more tied down for the "after." I scoured her site and the book's website but can't find anything about a sequel or an extra with a few months or years later for Sean and Puck, and I think if I had that it would be a full 5 instead of 4 1/2.

Bottom Line: Great writing, execution of premise and characterization with slow burn romance. ( )
  brandileigh2003 | Apr 25, 2015 |
I loved _The Scorpio Races_. Is it that I enjoy all books that focus on semi-obscure Welsh/Celtic bestiary, or that I simply adore Maggie Stiefvater? Maybe, it's a happy blending of the two.

_The Scorpio Races_ is a story about the annual horse race that takes place on the island of Thisby. The twist is that the race is run on capaill uisce, carnivorous, violent water horses, known for attacking and killing their riders. Stiefvater's ominous opening sentence sets the stage for carnage. "It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die." And she does not disappoint. This is a spooky tale, steeped in timeless ritual and mystery, as old as the island it is set on.

This is, under the fear and blood, a love story. Girl and boy meet under dire circumstances. Romance is destined. But, there is a more powerful love story, treading beneath the surface; the love between boy and monster. That is what holds you after you have finished the story.

I generally have a reading rule; if violence is done to an animal, I stop reading. It bothers me in a way that is different and deeper than my revulsion when something violent and horrible happens to a person. Despite some visually, violent scenes, I kept reading. This may sound small, but I am betting that someone out there can relate. This book is that good. Honest.

Recommend it for students in grades 9+, and adults. ( )
  Debra_Armbruster | Apr 13, 2015 |
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To Marian, who sees horses in her dreams
First words
It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die. (Prologue: Nine Years Earlier: Sean)
People say my brothers would be lost without me, but really, I'd be lost without them. (Chapter One: Puck)
You only have to be the fastest of those who are left.
It's easy to convince men to love you, Puck. All you have to do is be a mountain they have to climb or a poem they don't understand. Something that makes them feel strong or clever. It's why they love the ocean.
My mother always said that I was born out of a bottle of vinegar instead of born from a womb and that she and my father bathed me in sugar for three days to wash it off. I try to behave, but I always go back to the vinegar.
The evening sun loves her throat and her cheekbones. (p. 359)
I feel the island underneath me and Sean's mouth on my lips, and I wonder if luck will be on our side today. (p. 373)
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Haiku summary
Capaill uisce are
Race horses with a difference:
Fast and furious.

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 054522490X, Hardcover)

Product Description
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Shiver and Linger comes a brand new, heart-stopping novel.

With her trademark lyricism, Maggie Stiefvater turns to a new world, where a pair are swept up in a daring, dangerous race across a cliff--with more than just their lives at stake should they lose.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:33 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Nineteen-year-old returning champion Sean Kendrick competes against Puck Connolly, the first girl ever to ride in the annual Scorpio Races, both trying to keep hold of their dangerous water horses long enough to make it to the finish line.

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