Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Thisby is a unique island where the resident’s lives centre around the capall uisce – beautiful but deadly water horses who rise from the sea. The residents either take care of the tourists that visit the island or are participants in the annual November Scorpio Races; those that are interested in neither escape to the mainland, which is what Kate’s brother is planning to do. In order to stem his journey and save the house, Kate agrees to partake in this year’s annual race, against all the odds and her brother’s wishes. It’s a difficult book to sum up, hence the vague synopsis and my own not-very-good attempt but it is an amazing read nonetheless.

Stiefvater maintains her beautiful style of writing, combined with very picturesque surroundings. However, I didn’t particularly like fact that we are given no indication of the period or of Thisby’s location in the world; this was probably to make the novel feel timeless but instead it felt a bit disjointed and messy to me.

I loved the capall uisce idea – it is extremely original, believable and just generally well done overall as it really felt like fully developed age-old mythology; the world-building was extremely thorough, barring the missing out of details that I have already mentioned.

The Scorpio Races features an excellent set of characters – you genuinely love some, like George Holly, and hate others such as Matt, although you are not compelled to feel so unlike in some other books – it is solely the way they act that makes you feel so. There was a nice pace of the romance developing, although in terms of action it was a bit lacklustre, particularly at the beginning. You really can picture the island, its customs and residents that Stiefvater writes so marvellously. One of my few complaints about the one other Stiefvater book I have read, Shiver, is that the points of view of Grace and Sam were virtually identical; happily though, in The Scorpio Races the viewpoints differ a lot more.

A simply stunning novel – very different from Shiver but still containing Stiefvater's 'magic touch' so I would recommend this book to everyone – I’m really not doing it justice in this review.

[SYNOPSIS: 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.

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.


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