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.