Review: The Scorpio Races

The Scorpio Races
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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 choice. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

The Scorpio Races is a very unique kind of book, in the way you can’t pin down the genre. It seems a bit fantasy, a bit historical, a bit of magic realism, and then you wonder if it’s comtemporary. The sea horses bit definitely puts it in the fantasy genre, and the setting seems our world but the era is hard to pin down. Anyway, onto the setting – I loved how the small town setting and age old traditions translated into the wishes of both the protagonists as well as other characters in the story. The town represents a different thing to each of them; for some a cage, for some a home, for some a haven.

Puck is a fiery girl, who wants to do something for her home’s financial condition and is ready to face her fears for it. The time setting is definitely misogynistic, making it even more difficult for her to stand up in a place where she is constantly underestimated. Her entry into the contest and on a unconventional mount itself is quite a big risk she takes. Sean, on the other hand, is a seasoned rider but wants his freedom and his horse; and until her entry into his life, he doesn’t care for anything else. It was heart-warming how he bonds with his horse, despite everyone else seeing monsters in the water horses. A great deal of the book chronicles the bond each of them have with their respective horses, and is a bonding point for them. Their relationship is also a slow build-up, which almost made me concerned about whether there was a future for it.

Along with these two, Stiefvater also gives good amount of focus to the other characters, like Puck’s brothers, Sean’s nemesis and people around town who are their family. It is characteristic of her writing, I guess, to delve into details and yet keep it under layers so the plot doesn’t veer too much from the intended. The backstories are weaved intermittently and seamlessly, in the form of memories and perhaps is the most beautiful aspect of her writing.

This book doesn’t really trump the Raven Cycle series, but is a good one in it’s own right. Loved it and hoping there is a sequel somewhere in the future for this cruel and wistful town.

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