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.
The Scorpio Races has one of the things that really immediately hooks me into a book – an amazing first line. I mean, really…”It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.” Read that sentence and tell me that you don’t want to keep going. You probably can’t, and I don’t blame you.
I confess up front that I didn’t initially have a lot of interest in this book. Much like with Daughter of Smoke and Bone it didn’t really seem like it would be my thing based on the description, but after seeing so many rave reviews all over the internet I figured I had to give it a try. The thing that initially turned me off was the idea of man-eating horses, which may sound incredibly badass and awesome to most people, but as I’ve mentioned in previous reviews I have a serious soft spot for animals. I can read about an orphan fed into a wood chipper without batting an eye, but if a dog gets hit by a car or a cat gets lost I’m a pile of blubbering sobs. Here’s how extreme my aversion to bad things happening to animals is – I started sniffling reading the SYNOPSIS of The Art of Racing in the Rain. The synopsis, for all that is good and holy (and I don’t care how many rave reviews that one gets…I won’t touch it with a ten foot pole). So when I say I was tentative going into The Scorpio Races I really mean it. And I did struggle with the injuring/killing/bad behavior of some of the animals. I struggled quite a lot in some places, to be honest. But the fact that I not only made it through the book but also enjoyed it is a testament to how deserving it is of the rave reviews. I was horrified but I couldn’t put the damn book down. Some may consider my love for animals to be bordering on ridiculous, but we all have our things and animals are mine. So putting all of that aside because it’s unlikely to bother many people in the same way it bothered me, it’s definitely a highly readable and enjoyable book.
The story is told in alternating voices between Puck and Sean. I like books that do this because to me, it’s always interesting to get the perspective of more than one character. While I liked Puck, it was Sean’s perspective that really grabbed me. I think maybe because he came off as more mysterious, yet also more well-adjusted. They had both lost their parents young, but Sean seemed more mature and more able to cope with life. Puck (while again, very likeable) was prone to the occasional histrionics whereas Sean was taciturn, and if there’s anything I can get behind, it’s a taciturn man.
I also enjoyed how the romance between Puck and Sean built suuuuper slowly. There is no insta-love to be found here. Instead, the reader gets to watch trust build up between the two of them and a tentative, almost hesitant relationship spring up. It was really sweet, and the opposite of what happens in a lot of YA. I liked it a lot. Another thing I liked a lot is Maggie Stiefvater’s writing. She manages to make people and places really vivid without unpacking a billiongajillion adjectives, which is a big plus for me. I’ve seen a lot of people swooning over her books but this is the first one I’ve actually picked up. I will definitely be acquiring some of the previous ones.