Monday, February 27, 2012

Read This: The Scorpio Races

The Scorpio Races
by Maggie Stiefvater

The Short Story
Puck and her two brothers live on an island that becomes home to man-eating horses every fall. In November, the locals train and then race the horses. When Puck's older brother announces he's leaving the island (and his siblings) behind, Puck decides to enter the race. My description makes it sound kind of dumb, but this book was seriously amazing!

Come for the....
writing. This book is slow and beautiful and atmospheric, and by the half-way point, I would have been completely fine if they never actually raced the horses. The descriptions were so vivid that I felt like I was there on their tiny island, where everyone knows and is into everyone's business, and could possibly get eaten every fall. I liked that I got the feel of the place and time, without being bogged down in specifics. (I guess the island was somewhere U.K.-ish, and maybe vaguely early 20th century?) But, like Puck, I loved everything about it.

And I also liked Puck. She was spunky and stubborn - completely different from Grace in the Shiver series. (Seriously, this book feels wholly unlike the other books I've read by Maggie Stiefvater) I enjoyed being in her head - hearing her thoughts on the island, politics, people and horses. And then there was the other narrator, Sean Kendrick (who comes from the Cameron Quick school of naming, always going by first and last name). The dual point-of-view was nice, and especially funny when both characters seemed more comfortable being in a book about horse racing than "relationships." One of my favorite parts was when Sean brought by bread to have dinner with Puck and her family: "I’ve brought this . . . Is that what’s done?”
“Well, you’ve done it, so it must be.”

Stay for the
why are you still reading this? Go get the book! (also, the supporting characters are fabulous: the little brother, the match-making American, the spinster sisters.)

Don't Think About This Too Hard
  • I did think the beginning was slow, because I was expecting an action book about killer horses. Don't go in with that expectation, and you won't be disappointed.
  • I know basically nothing about horses, so some of the horse-y descriptions lost me. If you can locate the withers, you'll probably be fine.

The Big Three:
Language: a couple of more minor profanities
Sex and Stuff: a couple of crude jokes
Violence: the horses attack and kill people


  1. This is such a perfect review. I adored this book (and Sean Kendrick) so much, especially how beautifully written it was and all the descriptions of the island. I too expected a Hunger Games-esque race with killer horses but definitely was not disappointed. Everyone should read this.

    The Cait Files

    1. I agree. I don't think I've wanted to recommend a book to everyone I know in a long time, but this is one of those for me. And seriously, how did Sean Kendrick not end up on every best book boy of 2011 list? :)

  2. "If you can locate the withers, you'll probably be fine." Bahaha! You, of course, already know how much I adored this book. Loved your review, Kathy!

    1. Thanks! I'm really happy this was the book club pick. I don't know that I would have read it otherwise, which is a shame. I'm about to read it to my husband. He might not enjoy it as much as I did, but I want an excuse to read it again.

  3. This is one I downloaded to my phone. I had a weird dream about it and am very curious to read it.

    1. I remember you saying that on your blog! I hope you like it. It's definitely more character than plot driven... kind of slow like Matched is. But maybe if you know that going in it won't bother you too much.

  4. Awesome review. I always enjoy her writing. I can't wait to check this out.

    1. Thanks! I didn't notice her writing as much in the Shiver books, but I couldn't help but realize how good it was in this one. :)