Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater


The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Pages: 404
Publisher: Scholastic
Published: October 18th, 2011
IBSN: 9780545224901

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.

The Scorpio Races are held every November. Riders catch and fight for some semblance of control over their water horse, and unleash them on the competition in the race. To pass the finish line at all is an achievement. This year, Sean and Puck have so more riding on the races than their lives, but there'll only be one winner.

Sean works for the owner of his beloved water horse Corr, and wants nothing more than to officially own him, but not even the winnings of three races can buy the winner of them. After the death of her parents, Puck's struggled to keep her home and to keep her brother in it and the races seems the answer to both. And with her competing on a regular horse, she and Sean make for the highest profile riders. Their relationship is built on this common ground, slowly, with almost tangible chemistry between them, serving to help already complex characters grow.

Maggie Stiefvater has weaved fantasy elements realistically into a contemporary yet foreign setting, building a slightly mystical atmosphere and palpable suspense up to the races. The Scorpio Races combined Stiefvater's talents for building alluring fantasy worlds (Lament and Ballad) and crafting narrative voices with emotional weight (The Wolves of Mercy Falls). I see where she's coming from when she calls this her favourite novel she's written -- and it might be my favourite that she's written as well.

Maggie's writing remains the beautiful and poetic prose that captures the plaintive voices of her characters and personifies settings and animals but also frequently trips up unfans of thicker prose. Each word felt meticulously chosen to bolster the tentative and melancholic mood and to better define the characters.

This story is resolved in one volume, and it reminded me of the simple pleasure I'd almost forgotten of reading a book and experiencing only the anticipation that you can assuage by reading faster, and not that of eventual sequels. The Scorpio Races ends on a sweet, memorable note that will stay with me longer than any transitional cliffhanger.

The Scorpio Races is a suspenseful and emotional and atmospheric story that should appeal to fans of her earlier books, or anyone other huge fans of emotional contemporary fantasy.


Amy @ Turn the Page (YA) said...

Lovely review. I absolutely adored this book, more than any other book I have for a while. And I wasn't initially interested in reading it!

Cass (Words on Paper) said...

Well said. I just got my copy today! I'm so so excited to delve into this book that I've heard so many good things about!

"Maggie Stiefvater has weaved fantasy elements realistically into a contemporary yet foreign setting, building a slightly mystical atmosphere and palpable suspense up to the races." and "contemporary fantasy" -- this is what I like to hear. :D

Anonymous said...

i have not read he Scorpio races yet but i have read a lot of her other books and they are just amazing!!!

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