The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

“It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.

Even under the brightest sun, the frigid autumn sea is all the colors of the night: dark blue and black and brown. I watch the ever-changing patterns in the sand as it’s pummeled by countless horses.

They run the horses on the beach, a pale road between the black water and the chalk cliffs. It is never safe, but it’s never so dangerous as today, race day.”

Reviewing The Scorpio Races, for me, is like reviewing my best friend. Maggie Stiefvater has already cemented her standing as one of my favorite authors with the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy – Shiver, Linger, and Forever changed me as a reader and as a writer – and she does not disappoint with her newest stand-alone novel. This book touched me, though in a different way than her previous works.

The most spectacular talent Stiefvater shows in The Scorpio Races is her power to pull readers into the setting of her story. Puck and Sean, our protagonists, live on the island of Thisby – the only place where the dangerous, man-eating capaill uisce (water-horses) are found. Through Stiefvater’s rich, beautiful descriptions, Thisby comes alive as an individual character; I was so wonderfully entrenched in the atmosphere of the island and its inhabitants that by closing the book I felt like I was leaving behind a second home.

Stiefvater’s characters shine in The Scorpio Races. Puck’s resilience and fierceness as the first female to ride in the races impressed me, and Sean’s cool, calculated, and somewhat callous demeanor grew on me too. There is a lot of character development in this novel – let me emphasize again, a lot – and I could definitely trace Puck and Sean’s growth as the book progressed.

Unfortunately, the pacing of this book proved to be a problem. As a diehard fan of Stiefvater’s writing, I did not mind at all reading pages and pages of pretty prose. She tackled numerous themes, including family, freedom, and coming-of-age, which I thought were all nicely fleshed out. Yet despite the book’s splendid setting, atmosphere, characters, etc., there was a bit too much development, and not enough action.

Don’t get me wrong, the actual races had my heart pounding just like any other thrilling climax. Only it occurred at the very end of the book and lasted for a mere twelve pages. I understand that Stiefvater’s priority in writing this book may not have been to focus on the race itself, but the book jacket led me to believe otherwise, and I’m sure other readers too.

Overall I did not feel as involved in The Scorpio Races as I did with the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, but I enjoyed this book and am eagerly awaiting Stiefvater’s next work. Be warned that your heart probably will not race until the last fifty pages of the book, though if you are a fan of beautiful writing or Stiefvater’s other books, you’ll most likely enjoy the other 357 pages as well.


Filed under 4 stars, Book Reviews, Books

10 responses to “The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

  1. Interesting review Thomas. I felt similarly about Forever to be honest, although I too love Stiefvater’s writing. Forewarned is forearmed though, so maybe now I don’t have the expectation that this will be somewhat Hunger-Games-ish, I won’t get that sense of waiting for something that isn’t actually the focus of the story. Thanks.

    • Thanks Ruth! I know other people felt that Shiver, Linger, and Forever were written in a similarly “slow” style but I thought that that trilogy’s plot was quite involving, among its other fantastic aspects. This book is definitely not anything like The Hunger Games, but that’s not to say that you won’t enjoy it as much.

      “Forewarned is forearmed”… I’m going to steal that. (: You’re welcome, and thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. Sounds very interesting though I’ve never read any of her work. I was a bit skeptical about Shiver due to certain negative reviews I’ve been seeing around and I probably shouldn’t judge the book on those alone…but I suppose it would be a book you’d recommend.I like the cover though, it’s simple yet …. oh,I can’t find the word … don’t you hate when that happens?

    • It kind of pains me to see how Goodreads has placed a plethora of negative reviews on the page for Shiver, I feel like it gives people the wrong vibe concerning the book – it’s not at all like Twilight, it’s not the typical paranormal love story, or anything like that. I highly recommend that you give it a try.

      I know what you mean about the cover (and about how irksome it is when you can’t find the words to express your thoughts). The cover is gorgeous. The font color matches the color cover, and the trilogy looks beautiful when set side by side on a bookshelf.

      • Totally agree with that Thomas. I have a Kindle, but I own the Shiver trilogy in paperback because of the covers. In fact I first bought Shiver because of the cover! (very shallow, I know 🙂 )

        • Some books, especially young-adult ones, are bought because of their covers. In certain cases (cough, Fallen, cough) the material inside of the cover is a letdown, but that doesn’t apply to Shiver. So, it’s a good thing you were shallow when you decided to purchase it. (;

      • I’ve just read the sample and you know what? I’m going to give it a try. I find the writing somewhat a little poetic, didn’t you?

  3. Courtney Young

    I dissagree with the fact that the person who wrote this said she didnt realy get into the book untill the last 50 pages. I am a avid reader and an animal lover on top of it. From the beginning the idea of mystical horses that could kill with the blink of an eye had me hooked. I read this book in one day and have decided to write a report about the theme i found most important to me the book. This book effectivly showed me about steryotypes. The fact Puck Conolly was so different and how wemon just wernt excepted. It shows how Sean was outcasted too. People looked for him to choose everything but to me it seemed as alot of them outcasted him because he didnt involve himself in all of their commotion.

    • I too enjoyed her take on stereotypes and how she showed the effect of being ostracized by society. I also found the concept of the novel quite intriguing. I don’t think that she “didn’t really get into the book” until the last 50 pages, I only feel that the climax and the meat of the story only took place then. I know what you mean and respect your opinion though.

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