Friday, April 20, 2012

Book Review: The Scorpio Races

     Great books transport us to different worlds, worlds we just know exist. Finding a book like this feels like a gift. Allow me to introduce you to an award-winning book which flew me over thousands of miles of blue choppy waves, and plopped me on a horse for a beautiful, blustery, dangerous ride: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.

For the readers:

     Kate "Puck" Connolly makes history on her tiny island home by signing up for the the Scorpio Races. Girls just don't do this. The Scorpio Races are dangerous and for men only...until now.
     Every November, horse riders race in the dangerous runs hoping to win the prize money. However,  these are no ordinary horses, but the speed-demon water horses called capaill uisce, drawn from Celtic mythology. They eat meat. Any meat. Human meat.
     So, not only is Puck a girl, but she rides an ordinary horse in the races made for magical, legendary beasts. Why would she do such a thing? She has her reasons. They made me want to shake her and hug her at the same time, but she has them!
     Four time champion Sean Kendrick will race again this year--but the stakes are higher than ever. And they were already pretty high. You or death.
     Who will win? Only one can. The catch for me, as a reader, was that I wanted both to win! By the end, I knew them and loved them both.
     The adventure draw is obvious, but the emotional draw is more subtle. The island of Thisby has a way of drawing sea-lovers together, despite their purposeful seclusion. Puck's feisty humor and temper kept me laughing, while Sean's bravery made me braver. I saw the events through their eyes, and only the best books can accomplish that!
     P.S. I listened to this book in my car, and the voice actors have awesome accents. Maggie's music is also integrated into the readings. It enthralled me. You can order the audiobook for free through the library and listen to it in your car, too (or on your run, or while you eat chocolate raspberry walnut waffles. I did all of those things)!

For the writers:

Maggie with her book. Source.
     I've reviewed Maggie Stiefvater's books before, but only on I posted Races on the blog, though, because the craft is phenomenal. She reinvents language and description. Instead of writing, "He had a nasty black eye", she might write, "His eye seemed to be growing mold." Only her words would be even better :)
     For a few days, the real world was just a fog, or a vacation, and the island cliffs of Thisby occupied my thoughts.  In other words, Puck offered me a sticky, sweet November cake, and Sean took me for a ride on his prized horse, and I sat on the beach for hours, watching riders gallop along the shore. I ordered this book so I could read and study its "real time" descriptions.

Below: A book trailer with illustrations and music by the author. She's way too cool, right? An author, artist, and musician! Check it out:
     If you're interested, you can read the prologue here for free. Every chapter of the book gripped me, but this prologue really dropped my jaw. Very intense. It introduces readers to a world in which legendary horses rear up from the sea foam and humans must watch their backs. It immediately connects the reader to Sean, explaining how he became an orphan when he was ten years old. So important, and so well-written! Enjoy!
     If you want to order this book from the library, I would hurry because it was just nominated for the Teens Top Ten competition, and the holds will skyrocket soon!
     Speaking of Teens Top Ten, I'll be posting about the nominations next week! *excited* Talk to you then!

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