The Scorpio Races – Maggie Stiefvater

Release date: 18 October 2011
Rating: ★★★★★★★★★★ – 10/10
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Book Depository link

The Scorpio Races blurb:

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.

There are many books that I say I will reread. My shelves are full of them, double stacked in most cases. But there are actually very few that I will likely read again. I believe this book will be one of the few.

Thisby is a sea-grass covered, windy and cold rock in the middle of the ocean that very few people can make an earning living on, and even less are happy to do so. The sea and the rock itself need to have carved out a little piece of your heart in order to manage it. For you to survive it. And that’s without the monstrous sea creatures that look like horses and will tear the flesh from your bones running across it in the lead up to winter.

The Scorpio Races tells the story of Puck, a girl who was orphaned by these creatures and is about to be abandoned by her older brother who can’t take it anymore on the island. And it’s a story about Sean, who loves these creatures more than he loves life and races them every year in the annual Scorpio Races, the race that makes Thisby famous.

One thing I love about Stiefvater books is that the characters feel so real, you could almost reach out and touch their callused hands. Puck and Sean are at the centre of this, and the story is told from both of their points of view. It’s not alternating one-for-one chapters, just switching as the story unravels organically, depending on where you need to be, or with whom at the point that the story takes place. It never feels forced.

The world is also real. I can nearly smell the salt and seaweed wind, and see the sand dunes and the rough, sand coloured beach grass that would cover the hillside next to it. I can see Puck’s little ramshackle house and Finn’s car, the family cat. It’s all so vivid thanks to Stiefvater’s writing.

I love the characters. I love their flaws; their beliefs and values; their motivations. But mostly, I love their relationships with each other. I’ve come to realise that this is the part that Stiefvater excels at – the intertwining of her characters. How they interact with each other, the way they act around each other, and their conversations (oh gawd, their conversations!) is pure bliss to read and can leave you holding your breath, waiting for the slightest head tilt or exclamation.

It’s taken me nearly six months to perfect this review (but it’s not and it won’t ever be enough), because I have such strong feelings about this book. It is magical to me in a way that contemporary fiction never could be, in a way that other books just aren’t. There’s no real way to describe it. and so I won’t.

You should just read it.

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