Maggie Stiefvater 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 chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.
Each November the Capailli Uisce climb out of the frigid ocean on to the beaches of Thisby. Using magical charms and ancient rituals, the islanders attempt to rein some control over these incredibly fast, carnivorous predators as they capture, train and race them.
While Thisby is beautiful and steeped in ancient traditions, life for its inhabitants is hard. A life inspiring equally strong feelings of wanting to stay and uphold these traditions, maintaining way of life and the tourism which forms the majority of the islands income, and wanting to leave to forge a different kind of life.
The absence of modern technologies alludes to a bygone era, and adds to the geographical isolation. The remaining inhabitants would not feel so bereft when a family member emigrates if they had access to skype! The exact geographical location of the island is never disclosed and yet the descriptive narrative was such that I was quickly transported to the windswept beaches. I could imagine the wind whipping my clothes and hair, the biting cold attacking my extremities and the taste of sea salt on my lips.
The prose is pure poetry; I found myself reading some passages over again and over again just to savour the deliciousness of them. In places I was compelled to speak the dialogue aloud just to savour the sound of the beautiful words.
Kate “Puck” Connolly is impulsive, proud and determined with a fiery temper. She cares deeply, for her family, her horse and her island home and I couldn’t help warming to her. It is the depth of this love that results in her entry in the deadly races.
Sean Kendrick, is the strong silent type, imagine a young Mr Darcy with dirty finger nails, a man eating horse and just a hint of magic! The man may not say much, but when he does, wow! In the tradition of all good male hero’s he has a protective streak, however this manifests as guidance and facilitation rather than paternalism.
As the story unfolds Sean Kendrick and Puck’s relationship develops from acquaintance to something deep and tender (with snogging, of course!) as they build on a foundation of mutual respect and friendship. Both of our protagonists have very strong reasons for entering and wanting to win the races, both are risking their lives for the ones they love. But there can be only one winner of the Scorpio races. Verdict: The perfect book to curl up with while the wind howls and the rain hammers against your window. I will be buying this for myself when it is published on the 19th of October. Reviewed by Caroline