Five-Star Friday: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

11 Nov

Five-Star Friday is a periodically regular (say what?!) feature that I’m planning on running on Fridays (but not every Friday) in which I talk about (or verbally drool over) a book that I’ve read and ADORED (sometimes they’ll be recent releases and other times they might be older…my piles are tall and the bottoms are old). Yay! I always feel so happy and light and wonderful when I am beside myself with delight over a book, and I want to share the love with you all in the hopes that we can all get together and have an embarrassing, squeal-filled love-fest full of lots of high-pitched “Ohmygod, I KNOW!s” and chest-clutching sighs of contentedness. Huzzah!*

First up, Maggie Stiefvater’s THE SCORPIO RACES

It’s almost impossible to describe Maggie Stiefvater’s newest book, THE SCORPIO RACES without sounding a little ridiculous: mythical, deadly water horses live in the sea around a fictional island, where the people spend most of their year gearing up for a race of these flesh-eating water beasts on the sand that usually doesn’t conclude before at least one person dies. This year, though, a young girl whose family is down on their luck decides to race a horse–a real one–in the Scorpio races. Puck is her name, and she’s a quietly fierce young woman who is scrambling to keep her ever-shrinking family together. Over the course of her training for the races, she meets a magnetic but mysterious young man named Sean. Things happen between them, but it’s the slowest of slow burns. Don’t be mopey about it, though: a burn, by definition, is still hot, and Sean and Puck’s relationship is delicious in its depth and sincerity and love that comes from respect and friendship. THE SCORPIO RACES is easily one of the best books I’ve read this year.

I’ve read all of Maggie Stiefvater’s books and really enjoyed every one, but I think that THE SCORPIO RACES might be my favorite. I love everything about it: the characters, the atmosphere, the plot, the writing. I was particularly taken with the setting, Thisby. It reminded me of one of those old sleepy New England coast towns that is full and buzzing in the summer but empty of everything except the quirky, tight-knit locals during the rest of the year. I want to go there. It seemed like a flawed place, but quiet and simple, aside from, obviously, the month leading up to the races of the book’s title, which are Thisby’s equivalent of the summer season except with killer mythical horses that burst out of the ocean. But really. I was taken with the place almost instantly. I had a very clear, complete picture of it in my mind, even of the places we didn’t go; I could envision the whole place.

The characters, too, are imperfect and endearing and unique. Puck is feisty and ballsy and also uncertain and in a tough spot with her family. But she is fearless and funny, too, and I was hooked from the beginning. In fact, I was so invested in her so early in the story that when her brother, Gabe MINI-SPOILER! told Puck and her brother, Finn, that he would be leaving Thisby for the mainland, leaving his two remaining orphaned siblings alone to fend for themselves, I squeezed out a tear. I cried for Puck a couple of times, actually, because her life is kind of hard right now and I wanted more than anything for things to be easier for her.

Sean wants things to be easier, too, and happier, and he envisions those things as owning his beloved water horse, Corr and, in fact, owning the entire farm that he works for as the main horse trainer. I think he just wants to be around the horses; he’s amazing with them. Sean is quiet and troubled (but on the inside; he’s not a trouble-maker), and mysterious, and an orphan also. His life at Malvern’s could be worse, I guess, but it’s no great shakes, and I wanted things to be better for him, too. I rooted so hard for both of them. But what I really loved about their relationship is that it doesn’t happen right away at all. In fact, you meet these two people as individuals who are working through some tough times of their own, and we spend a great deal of time getting to know them and seeing what their lives are like before things start heating up towards the end of the book. I was totally cool with this. In fact, I loved it. The tension made the relationship better and more satisfying. And I am always a big fan of allowing relationships to grow organically, which Puck and Sean’s did. Thumbs up for these two characters, and all of the other characters as well, who were all flawed and wonderful (well, most of them were wonderful *looks at Mutt*).

Of course, there are non-people characters in this book and they were fantastic too. The water horses were dangerous and beautiful and thrilling and scary. I’m very glad that Maggie left out the part of the water horse lore where the horses turn into men on land. As animals on land, they were so much more menacing and threatening. Plus, we wouldn’t have the race! And even though the water horse legend here was modified a little bit, I am still always drawn to stories that originate in mythologies and legends from any culture, and this book is no exception. It was a really nice relief that I didn’t know I had needed to read about mythological creatures that weren’t fairies or gods–things that I still love, though.

THE SCORPIO RACES was amazing. Seriously. I was lucky enough to get an ARC at Book Expo this year, but I loved it so much that I went and bought a copy, too because I needed it. I’ll be rereading this one for sure. If you read only one book for the rest of the year, please give THE SCORPIO RACES a try. It won’t disappoint you. In fact, I think it will take you by very pleasant surprise.

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*So, I know that this feature is called “Five-Star Friday,” intimating that I have five-star ratings on this blog. Alas, I’m still figuring out whether or not to have a rating system here, BUT I do always diligently rate all the books I read on my Goodreads page. The five-star titles of which I speak here are taken from my “Favorites” shelf there.

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4 Responses to “Five-Star Friday: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Top Ten Tuesday (7) « Tripping Over Books - December 27, 2011

    […] Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater. I have raved about THE SCORPIO RACES before. I might continue to rave about it for all time. When I heard that […]

  2. Tripping Over September « Tripping Over Books - September 1, 2012

    […] ever since THE SCORPIO RACES became one of my legit favorite books of ever, I’ve been dying to read Maggie […]

  3. Top Ten Tuesday (50) « - October 23, 2012

    […] So I have two Maggie Stiefvater books on my list. Totally deserved, friends. I know I’ve mentioned somewhere that I seem to read lots of Maggie’s books in […]

  4. Book Review + Giveaway: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater « - October 29, 2012

    […] for me than Maggie Stiefvater. I’ve at the very least really liked all of her books, and THE SCORPIO RACES is probably one of my favorite YAs ever. (No lie.) The second that I heard the synopsis of her […]

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