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Monday, June 13, 2011
Review of The Scorpio Races
Title: The Scorpio Races
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Young Adult fantasy
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication date: October 18, 2011
I like fantasy novels; I always have. These days, with the explosion of the YA genre, it's actually a little harder to find a good, straight-up fantasy novel. It seems like everything has to include one of the current trends: vampires, or a badass female heroine, or what have you. That makes it so much more satisfying when I find an original fantasy novel.
Prior to this book, Maggie Stiefvater wrote a trilogy about werewolves that includes Shiver, Linger, and Forever. I'm not a huge fan of werewolf mythology, but what impressed me about that series was the way that Stiefvater differentiated between the four characters who narrate the series. When I picked up The Scorpio Races, I was expecting more of the same.
This book is nothing like anything I've read before.
Kate "Puck" Connolly lost her parents to the capaill uisge, the water horses, some time ago. Now she and her two brothers are struggling to make ends meet on the tiny island of Thisby, where there are more people than jobs. This year, Kate knows that she needs to make some money from the Scorpio Races, but she doesn't intend to actually race until her older brother announces that he's leaving the island. In attempt to make him stay, she enters the race as the first female rider in the race's history. Here's the catch: it's not an ordinary race. She'll have to ride a water horse.
As an Irish-American, I love the atmosphere of this novel. It's got all the music and melancholy of the traditional Celtic myths without the darkness that can easily take over. Stiefvater really brings Thisby alive, from the landscape to the weather to the colorful people who live and visit there. And Kate is a real heroine: desperate, hesitant, but fiercely courageous because she is protecting those she loves.
When I finished the book, I found myself wishing I could spend a little more time on Thisby.