Monday, November 28, 2011

Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater


Good job Maggie Stiefvater.

I admit, I haven't been too impressed by you in the past. Maybe it was the werewolves. Maybe it was the awful book design that led somebody to think green ink was an acceptable choice. Whatever the reason, I gave up on the Linger trilogy pretty quickly and fairy stories? No, I don't think so. I only picked up Scorpio Races once I heard the rave reviews. But oh boy I am glad that I did. You took an obscure myth and transformed it, breathing life into something that could so easily have been flat. You surrounded that myth with believable characters and managed to give us one of the most tension filled, slow burn love stories since Anne of Green Gables.

Can you tackle selkies next? Or maybe the Tam Lin story? Pretty please?

The Deal:
Puck lives on the island of Thisby with her two brothers. Their parents were killed about a year ago by the mysterious and deadly water horses who rise from the sea every November and since then it's been the three Connolly siblings against the world. But now her oldest brother is talking about leaving the island for good and the only way Puck can think to stall him is to announce her intent to ride in the Scorpio Races.

The Scorpio Racesare a tradition on Thisby as far back as anyone can remember, and lately an economy-saving tourist attraction. Water horses are more dangerous and harder to control than regular horses, but they're so much faster. Each year the men of Thisby risk their lives to prove their dominance over the beasts and be the first over the finish line.

Sean watched his father die in the races when he was only ten years old. Now, riding the horse his father was killed on, Sean has won the races 4 times and is heavily favored to do it again. Sean doesn't care much for the races though, he just wants a way to buy Corr, his water horse and only friend, from the island's richest man. Together they'll move to his father's house and never be indentured to any master ever again.

What Worked: All of it. No, seriously. If I truly had to pick a best, most-working part though, it would be the world of Thisby that Stiefvater built. The island atmosphere of tradition and insider vs. outsider gives us some of the creepiest, most suspenseful scenes I've ever read. Carnival scenes and food descriptions juxtaposed against blood letting rituals and sinister pubs gave Thisby extra dimensions and let me get an intimate look at a small community from my couch.

What Didn't Work: Okay, so the villain was a little flat. BUT I AM SO TOTALLY OKAY WITH THAT.

Anything Extra Special?: Like I mentioned above, the tension between Puck and Sean as their relationship grows from distrust and suspicion to mutual respect and then soft, butterfly feelings is exquisite. I don't throw around the Anne of Green Gables title lightly; that slow burn as Anne begins to realize how Gilbert feels for her and how she feels about him can send me into squees by just thinking about it. Puck and Sean are of the same variety and the few kisses they do get to share are made all the more satisfying by how much time they spent working up to them.

Would I Read It Again?: Yes. It's a long linger and super intense, so I'll give it time to settle, but this is definitely something that will make its way back to my bedside table.

1 comment:

  1. As a horse person and a voracious reader of sci-fi and fantasy I was a bit unsure when I picked up The Scorpio Races, it seemed a little odd, but once I opened it up and read the first few pages I fell in love. The story is fantastic, the island is amazing, the horses frightening and stunning, and the relationship between Puck and Sean is beautiful. Often YA relationships are written poorly, or are obsessive, obvious, 2-dimensional, or uninteresting and Puck and Sean are none of those.

    And the last sentence- perfect.
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