Thursday, July 12, 2012

Review: Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

The Scorpio Races
The Scorpio Races
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Release Date: Oct 18, 2011
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

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. Others die.

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.
We thought since Maggie's new book, The Raven Boys, will be out soon we would revisit one of our favorites by her.  We have a double review for you and a little bit about the new book =)  Enjoy!  

What a fantastic ride! I have been looking for a new adventure and this fits perfectly.

Kate Connelly lives with her two brothers on Skarmouth, a little island town where everybody knows everybody. This town may look like any other but every November the town is transformed by the arrival of the capaill uisce, water horses. These horses are not your normal everyday mares. These horses are big, meat eating, unpredicatable, and sea craving beasts. When they emerge from the sea in November the men of Skarmouth grab them when they can and try to train them to race in the Scorpio Races. As you can guess some make it to the actual race and some do not. 
Kate lost her parent to a boating accident that involoved the capaill uisce and now her oldest brother has decided to leave his siblings behind to go to the Mainland. This is devastating enough but when she learns that they might lose the only home they have even known she decides to take a dramatic action. Kate, or rather Puck to the town, signs up for the Scorpio Races. The only problem is that she is terrified of the capaill uisce and the only horse she has ever ridden is her beloved Dove. This begins her journey and what an incredible one it is.

This is not only her story though, Sean Kendrick plays a huge role throughout this book. The POV changes between with every chapter and his story is just as griping and heartbreaking as hers. Sean loves to ride the capaill uisce. He has grown up around them and even his father rode before taking a great fall to one. Sean has won four out of the past six races and he always rides Corr. These two have a very long history and Corr would be his prize possession if only he owned him. Sean is pretty much revered in the town and very respected for his work with the water horses with the exception of Mutt, his bosses son. Things start getting complicated when Mutt's jealousy starts going too far and before Sean knows it he is fighting for not only his freedom, but Corrs as well.

Kate and Puck have a very unusual relationship at first but it is born out of mutual respect and that is something we don't see too much of in current YA books. I loved these two together and I will even go as far to say that they are among my favorite couples. I will say that if you are looking for a great romance this book is not it. The story is more centered around the town and the races which are quite fascinating so you won't be bothered by the mild romance. I found myself so intrigued by the water horses and everything about them. I really want a sequel to this book. This world is so unique and different and I give Stiefvater major kudos for bringing in a whole idea to the YA genre. For fans of her Mercy Falls books you will not be disappointed and if you are new to her writing I promise this book will captivate you with it magical water horses.

Since Maggie's new book, The Raven Boys, I thought I would revisit one of my favorites by her =)

5 Snowflakes

 Absolutely fantasical! More please...
Wow! Just wow!! Maggie Stiefvater has definitely cemented her status in the YA genre and Scorpio Races is her full access ticket to the game. I've enjoyed her Mercy Falls trilogy for over a couple of years, but this book has definitely pulled her away from the pack and shown she has what it takes to deliver a novel that will have you falling for the characters, emerging yourself in the setting, and feeling the magic. 

If I had to choose one thing that Steifvater excels in, I'd have to say it's her ability to make you feel a part of the setting. She has a way of bringing it to life for the reader, whether it's the cold icy woods of Mercy Falls, or the cliff-side ocean breeze of Skarmouth. She creates such vivid back-drop that you can actually imagine along with the characters having ocean mist spray your face and the sea water confuse your senses. Well done! 

This story takes place on the small island of Skarmouth. A place where riders compete in a deadly race every November with capaill uisce (pronounced copple ishka) which are intense and predatory water horses that emerge from the sea. These stallions aren't your normal racing thoroughbreds. These mystical creatures feed on blood and require charms and magic to ride, and at any moment they can turn on their rider and attack. The Scorpio Races is a high stakes game that only the best men enter to compete.

That's until Puck (Kate) Connolly finds herself not only orphaned when her parents fall victim to these savage horses that crave blood, but also when her older brother Gabe decides to abandon her and Finn, the youngest of the three, to the mainland. Kate decides to enter the Scorpio Races to try and stop her brother from leaving and hopefully win the money to make ends meet.

In order for her to win though, she'll have to race against Sean Kendrick, a four time champion in the games. Sean is drawn to the games and the ocean that knows him by name. His moves are influenced by magic as he draws circles in the sand and whispers commands to his beast Corr to control its power. Sean knows what it takes to win the race and his stallion is the one to beat. Winning the game for him, though, isn't about money, but very few know his true motivation.

This story is highly character driven and legend induced. There were so many characters that I fell for especially Sean, who let me tell you is nothing like Sam from Shiver. He's fierce and commanding and probably has never read a line of poetry or plucked a guitar string in his life. ^^ Puck is a worthy main character as well. She's strong and determined and willing to do what it takes for her and Finn to survive. She's rough around the edges and probably can't make her hands clean enough to cook a chicken, but that doesn't stop her from trying to survive the game. I also loved Puck's younger bother Finn. He's ever awkward and extremely loyal to Puck. He's like a fey, you don't thank him or ever give him a compliment. There's just something about him that makes Finn so hug-worthy.

Overall, this book is so much more than racing to the finish line. It's about proving to yourself that you're stronger than others define you to be. It's about pushing yourself to that place that reveals who you really are and what you're truly capable of. Yes, this book mixes in a light romance, but the bond between these two racers is beyond the normal attraction, it's about knowing what you're willing to sacrifice to earn what you really need. Absolutely beautiful!

So if you can't tell by now, I loved this book. Scorpio Races is Triple Crown worthy blending fantasy, magic and romance for a high adventure race to the finish! A must read for fans of Stiefvater and anyone that's looking to experience a magical adventure.
5 Snowflakes

Now for a little bit about one of our most anticipated titles of the year!

The Raven Boys
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Pre-order: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.
Find the Author:
Goodreads    Website 

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