I’m coming out the gate strong with this one. I loved this book! It was such a fun read/listen and I wish I could go back and feel all the anticipation and curiosity all over again!
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Minor spoilers ahead!
The Scorpio Races is a YA Fantasy, though I’d use the term lightly. Set on a fictional island in the UK during the early 1920s, the only thing out of the ordinary is the existence of the Capaill Uisce (pronounced: kappol ish-kuh, roughly) . These are mythical Celtic Water Horses, but Maggie Stiefvater has taken them beyond their legendary origins and brought them to life on the island of Thisby.
The Capaill Uisce are wild sea creatures capable of shifting from aquatic bodies to large and athletic horses on land. They are carnivorous, portrayed as blood-thirsty and obsessed with the sea when kept on shore. Each autumn the men of Thisby try to catch one to ride in the Scorpio races. And each autumn people die beneath hooves and between teeth.
Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. At 19, he’s won four out of the last six races on his chestnut stallion Corr. The horse was his father’s, who was killed during the race by the stallion when Sean was 10. Corr escaped that day, only for Sean to catch him a few years later. They’ve since forged a strong bond, but Sean keeps on his toes around the stallion all the same. It’s in the nature of the Capaill Uisce to attack, especially as November approaches.
Kate Connolly, aka Puck, is the middle child and the only girl in her house. Her older brother Gabe works constantly, and her younger brother Finn can’t seem to stop fiddling with things long enough to be a proper person. So, Puck spends all her time maintaining their old house in the wilds of Thisby and taking care of her island horse, Dove. The Connolly kids’ parents were killed in a Capaill Uisce attack an unspecified amount of time in the past, but the wound is still very much open in their house.
And Puck’s about to pour salt in the wound: she’s decided to ride in the Scorpio races.
Her decision shocks the entire island. Though there’s no rule against it, no woman has ever participated in the race, and the men of Thisby are determined to keep it that way.
The Scorpio Races is a thrilling ride, pun intended. It has all the ingredients for a satisfying YA read: First person narrative, simmering first love, and family conflicts. But, it goes above and beyond by adding heavy doses of feminism and ‘a boy and his horse’. As a huge fan of The Black Stallion books as a kid, the appearance of this trope pretty much guaranteed my enthusiasm for this book.
I should also mention that the narration for the audiobook was very well done. Steve West as Sean was gruff and very internalized, and listening to him read Puck’s dialogue in Sean’s chapters was initially hilarious. Fiona Hardingham read for Puck and she was delightful! All fiery obstinance and strong opinions. Her voice for Sean’s dialogue was equally humorous, and it really gave a sense of what the characters thought of each other. They both have strong British accents, which wasn’t a problem to me, though my personal internal monologue was suddenly British for a few days.
If you want a gripping, standalone book with interesting and well-developed characters and setting, I can’t recommend The Scorpio Races enough.
I’m still working through Gunpowder Moon. I got a bit distracted with listening to Snow Patrol after they announced their new album, so my reading has slowed down in general. but, I’m getting back on track and should have another review for y’all sometime this weekend.
Until then, Blogland,