The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

This book is going to be huge.  Get your pre-orders in and block off some time on October 18th. This is a book you won’t be able to put down so you will have to read it straight through in one sitting.

The Scorpio Races is like nothing I have read before. The Scorpio Races is a stand-alone fantasy novel that Stiefvater says has been in her head for many years. The time that this story had to percolate in her imagination resulted in pure perfection. The prose is magical and haunting. The characters are true and life-like. The setting will surround you, with fog settling around you and drops of saltwater sticking to your skin.

Kate “Puck” Connolly lost her parents to the capaill uisce , the water horses, many years ago. She and her two brothers have been struggling to survive ever since.  They barely make ends meet on the tiny island they call home.  When her oldest brother announces that he is leaving to go to the mainland, Puck is stunned and heartbroken.  In a crazy bid to keep him home longer, she enters the Scorpio Races.  Every November, the capaill uisce wash upon shores of the island. The water horses are deadly, but the lure to tame one long enough to ride in the Scorpio Races is hard to resist for the island residents.  The promise of prize money has tempted many young men, including her brother’s friends. But  Kate swore to have nothing to do with the capaill uisce after her parents’ death.  Instead, she  enters the race as the first female rider in the race’s history, but plans to ride her own horse, Dove.

And then there is Sean.  Strong, silent, and the island’s most famous resident.  He is the returning champion of the Scorpio Races and he and his water horse, Corr, are known far and wide.  But Sean is silently struggling.  He wants to free himself from his overbearing employer but won’t leave his job without Corr, who belongs to the stable.  Winning this year’s Scorpio Races will win them both their freedom.

Sean and Puck meet while training for the races.  But don’t think this is just a love story.  It’s so much more than that.  The center of the story is that both Puck and Sean’s futures hinge on how well they do in the race.  But only one can win.  And while there is tension between the two, Stiefvater’s tale is about the water horses.  I was not familiar with the mythology of water horses before picking up this ARC and that made the story all the more delicious.  I had no idea what was coming.  I fell in love with the gorgeous and deadly water horses, and I’ve been reading everything I can about them ever since I finished the book.  Stiefvater’s prose is haunting and I could hear the hooves pounding on the beach while the waves crashed in the background.  The world-building is spot-on and the atmosphere will haunt you.

This is a book that will fly off the shelves in October.  I have already passed it on to my students, and they took it home this summer to pass around amongst themselves.  I know they are going to love it.  I certainly do!

(I plan to look for some water horses when I am in Ireland later this summer.  ;)  )

*ARC courtesy of the publisher at BEA

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