The Scorpio Races
Scholastic Press/October 18, 2011
From the inside cover ~
Some Race To Win
Others Race to Survive
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.
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 choice. So she enters the competition – the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.
When I was a kid I loved horses, was a bit obsessed with them even. I would save my money and buy Breyer collectible horse figures. If there was a chance to go riding, I was there. So when I heard that Stiefvater's next release involved horses I knew I had to read it. Plus, the teen read it before me and gave it a thumbs up. Which was saying something since she didn't like Stiefvater's Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy but I did.
The races take place on an small island where everyone knows everyone. That is except when the tourist come for the races. Then the population swells and the money flows into the island. The races are big business for this small, fairly poor community but it's the final race that everyone is anticipating. It's the most exciting and the most dangerous. Stiefvater does an exceptional job building that excitement leading up to the finale.
Puck Connolly loves her horse Dove. Dove is not only a wonderful horse, she's Puck's best friend. When Puck's life takes a dramatic turn, she needs money fast. The upcoming excitement for the races pull her in and she suddenly finds herself stating that she will ride. The only problem, she doesn't have a capaill uisce, a water horse and no chance of catching and training one by race day. Puck is stubborn and fierce in her convictions to not give up. Her choices are few and when everyone tells her she doesn't belong in the race, well that just makes her even more determined. I adored Puck. I loved her stubbornness, her kindness and her love for her family. It would have been hard not not to cheer her on.
Sean Kendrick is a celebrity on the island, having won the last four races. He doesn't revel in his popularity but keeps to himself. He's a hard worker, has no family and his only companion is his horse, Corr. Corr is the water horse that Sean has ridden in the past races and plans to run in the upcoming race. Sean understands Corr and would do anything to keep him. He doesn't think Puck should be in the race either but as he gets to know her, he comes to care for her. They have much in common, both orphans and both love their horses, treating them like family.
The story is told in alternating POVs between Puck and Sean. I liked that we got the two perspectives of the same events. Even though Puck and Sean have grown up on the island, they don't really know each other. The preparations for the race allow them the time, placing them together on the beach for training. In Puck's view we see the rookie rider, inexperienced in the challenge but making up for her inexperience with guts, bravery and her knowledge of horses. In Sean we see the veteran rider, a bit jaded with the experience but still holding on to the love of the race.
The way Puck and Sean's relationship develops, both wary of the other but drawn together by their love of horses and their love of the island, gives the reader insight to why they make the decisions they do. Due to circumstances both Puck and Sean face far more hardships in addition to what they will face on race day.
There are a few secondary characters have a profound impact on the lives of Puck and Sean. The way Stiefvater wrote them, you can easily see how the lives of the residents of the island are intertwined. Not only did I come to care about Puck and Sean but also about some of the other residents on the island.
The people are not the only inhabitants who make their presence known. The personalities of the horses, mainly Dove and Corr, shine through. They are as much a part of the story as the people. The capaill uisce are as beautiful as they are dangerous. They are alluring in their promises of fame and fortune. They are fascinating in their savagery, scary in their determination to dominate their riders and their surroundings.
The Scorpio Races, per Ms. Stiefvater, is intended to be a single title with no plans for a follow up book at this time. And I'm fine with that. The ending felt complete even though there is certainly more story that could be told about Puck, Sean and the island. So either way, if there is a sequel, I would definitely read it. If not, I'll hold fond memories of this beautifully written story.