Monday, November 19, 2012

Review: The Scorpio Races

The Scorpio Races
By Maggie Stiefvater
Published 2011 by Scholastic

Every November, the people of Thisby run a race. This race is a matter of life and death, as riders and spectators contend with the wild capaill uisce - deadly, man-eating horses from the sea - in their attempts to win. For Puck Connolly, this race is about family and the island she loves more than anything. For Sean Kendrick, the race is about his freedom and the price he will pay for it. For them both, the race is about discovering their strength and changing their lives.

I know, I know - I'm late to the party here. It's really frustrating because I actually got an ARC of this back at ALA Annual in 2011 and just couldn't find the time to fit it in. Then it went and won all those fancy awards and I felt like even more of a bonehead for not having read it. Well, I intended to rectify that as soon as possible - turns out that still meant a long time later, but now I've finally finished it.

I know Stiefvater has a lot of fans - she's become a very popular author because of her pure writing talent, emotionally gripping stories, and active online presence. From following her on Twitter, reading her blog, watching some of the videos she's created, and seeing her speak in a webinar, I find that I think Stiefvater would be a really kick-ass person to know. She's insanely creative and talented, and she has tons of fascinating interests - I think she'd be awesome to just sit down and have a conversation with. What is the point of my telling you all this? Well, despite how truly awesome I think Stiefvater is as a person, I was still not 100% on board the Stiefvater train for her books. I actually read and finished The Raven Boys while I was in the middle of reading that one and, if you read my review, you'll see that one got me on the train. It actually made me more excited to keep reading this book.

I realize that the above paragraph makes it sound like I wasn't enjoying The Scorpio Races until I read The Raven Boys - that's not true. While this book was not really made for me (I've never really been a horse girl except ironically and I actually find regular horses kind of terrifying so I didn't need to read about killer ones), there is no denying that Stiefvater wrote a beautiful and powerful novel here. The mythology and legend that she has created for the island of Thisby and the capaill uisce is captivating and deep. I loved the dual narrative of Puck and Sean - I loved discovering the reasons why each was running the race and the conflicting emotions that this brought on in them. I loved them slowly discovering each other and stumbling through the first bloom of attraction. Stiefvater seems to have no problem creating memorable and strong characters - and not just the principal ones. This book, like her others, is populated with well-developed secondary characters, adding to the depth and breadth of Thisby's history and lore. I loved the pacing of this novel - I felt like I was living through the days leading up to the race right alongside Puck and Sean. The way the story is presented gave it an immediacy that was difficult to ignore.

Between this and The Raven Boys, I am fully on board the Stiefvater train. Take me where you will, Maggie.

Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy.

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