The Scorpio Races – Maggie Stiefvater

After my slight disappointment with Shiver, I’ll admit I was a little leery of picking up another Maggie Stiefvater book, but I’ve heard such great things about her (hi, Jenn!), I gave her another go when The Scorpio Races came up as an Amazon Kindle special.     I’m definitely glad I did – I liked this story a lot more than Shiver.

Set on the fictional island of Thisby, which I imagined as one of the Outer Hebrides in Scotland, both Sean and Puck have lost parents to the capaill uisce, the water horses that come ashore at certain times of the year, and hunt on the island.  Puck’s parents actually died in their fishing boat, hunted by a capall uisce, but Sean’s father died racing them.

The Scorpio races are held once a year, where men on the island try and tame a capall.     Sean is the best man on the island.  In a race where men die every year, he has a remarkable ability to sense what the horses are doing, especially Corr, who he’s trained from the day he was caught coming out of the sea.   But Corr belongs to the Malverns, who Sean works for, and the Malverns won’t sell him to Sean.

After Puck’s parents died, she and her brothers have continued to live in the family home, assuming it was paid for.    But her parents still owed money to the Malverns, and Benjamin Malvern has decided that it’s now due.   So Puck hatches a rather desperate plan to enter the races, and if she wins, Malvern will give her the house.

At the same time, Sean makes an agreement with Malvern that if he wins, Corr will be his.    And so the races begin, with Puck and Sean both desperately needing to win.

I really enjoyed this story.     It wasn’t YA-angtsy.   I also really liked this version of the water horses – it’s not necessarily true to any of the various legendary versions, but it’s a very satisfying portrayal.    So Stiefvater’s back on my watch list.


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