The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

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The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Laura Ketley
Reviewed by Laura Ketley
Summary: An absorbing, gripping story about an island where killer horses are raced for big prizes.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: October 2011
Publisher: Scholastic
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1407129853

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Longlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2013

At a young age Sean Kendrick watches his father die violently in the Scorpio Races – a race held every year on the beaches of the island where riders compete for a huge cash prize by riding the dangerous capaill uisce, the water horses. Years later Sean is a four-time winner of the Scorpio Races with a prized mare – Corr – and plans to win again. Meanwhile, Puck (Kate) Connolly has been orphaned by the capaill uisce and struggles for every meal; their main source of income is her brother Gabe, but when he announces that he is leaving the island Puck realises that she has to fight for the survival of her family. Seeing no other option she enters her island pony into the races. The stakes are high as Sean and Puck compete against each other for the highest prize of them all – freedom.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book; it was fast paced with so many twists and turns that your attention isn't lost. The varying themes of romance, affection between man and animal, and the desire for power mean that this book offers something for a wealth of different readers; boy or girl.

The romantic tension between Sean and Puck builds slowly throughout and I found my heart racing alongside theirs as their mutual respect turns to something deeper. Their feelings for each other are only second to their love for their horses, Corr and Dove. It is Sean's love for Corr that is the real story. Despite Sean's father riding Corr when he was killed, Sean's bond with the horse is strong and I have to admit that I was very moved by this unnatural affection between a killer horse and what should have been his prey.

Stiefvater's descriptive style brings images of the island and its inhabitants to life. I enjoyed the narrator changes throughout the story, allowing you to see Sean and Puck's growing relationship before they do and how differently they feel about the race.

As I turned the last page I realised that I was still confused about some aspects, which was disappointing. The “capaill uisce were very well researched though, and I have come away wanting to know more about the legend.

I enjoyed this book, though I think that the violence makes it more suitable for older teens. The romantic storyline is so subtle throughout the book that I feel it wouldn't put off a teenage boy.

The Scorpio Races held my attention from the first page until the last, and is a work that Maggie Stiefvater should be proud of. I would definitely recommend.

Thank you to Scholastic for sending us this book.

Further Reading Suggestion: I loved how fast paced this book was and how well Maggie Stiefvater brought the water horses legend to life. Silverhorse by Lene Kaaberbol features Kat, a character with a hot temper similar to that of Puck. Monster Blood Tattoo by D M Cornish is a fast paced fantasy story with a character who is forced to see monsters a different way. Firestorm by Mark Robson is aimed at younger readers, but can be enjoyed by older teens; this book features four dragon riders on a quest that spans four exciting books.

Buy The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater at

Buy The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater at


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