I love Maggie Stiefvater. She is totally awesome! I don’t know of any other person more talented than she is. She is amazingly artistic. Just look at this evidence: her magical Sharpie doodle, an artistic representation about an outing with her dog, her stop-action video for SHIVER, another trailer for THE SCORPIO RACES, her musical ability (tin whistle), and more music (bagpipes).
I wasn’t familiar with the water horse myth before reading THE SCORPIO RACES, but it didn’t take long for me to be sucked in to the wonderfully dangerous world where these creatures exist. Maggie explains in in her Author’s Note how she has been attempting to write a story like this for years and it took her forever to get it just right. She ended up making it her own, taking things out she didn’t like and adding things she needed. I think this is an important lesson for anyone wanting to write. You write the story – you decide what goes in it.
Here is a blog post where she discussed her editing process. It deals with Chapter 15 of THE SCORPIO RACES.
I guess I should probably stop gushing about the wonderfulness of Maggie and get on with the review.
“It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.” I love how Maggie begins the book with this line and then ties it all together at the end on the day of the race nine years later. Sean Kendrick was ten-years-old when he watched his father die in The Scorpio Races, but it didn’t stop him from participating as soon as he got old enough. As an employee of Benjamin Malvern, it is his job to take care of the horses sold each year to buyers from around the world. Sean also is expected to ride in The Scorpio Races - 9/10 of the prize purse going to Malvern. Even if he wasn’t expected to ride for Malvern, he’d do it anyway. There is nowhere Sean feels more comfortable than on the back of Corr, his capall uisce (water horse). Being a four-time winner of the races, Sean knows everything there is to know about the races.
Kate (Puck) Connolly is a fiery girl that enjoys her simple life on the island of Thisby. She lives outside of town on a small piece of land with her two brothers and her best friend, Dove – a sweet-natured horse. The three Connollys have been on their own since losing their parents to the capaill uisce at sea and now, earning enough money for food and supplies is tough. After receiving two heartbreaking pieces of news, Puck decides the only way to keep what she wants is to ride and win The Scorpio Races. Never before has a girl participated in the dangerous event and the people of Thisby don’t like it that she is attempting to change the tradition. Nor do they like her choice of horse.
As Puck gets to know the ins and outs of the race, she also gets to know Sean. Normally a stand-offish person, Sean finds himself drawn to Puck even though thinking of her can be very dangerous. Without complete concentration, the races could turn out deadlier than ever.
As Sean and Puck begin training together, they form an interesting friendship – one that gives each of them something they need.
THE SCORPIO RACES is a magical story dealing with legends, superstitions, and traditions. The language is beautiful, creating a visual picture as you read. The ending is so touching it brings a tear to your eye.
THE SCORPIO RACES is Printz Honor Book and an Odyssey Honor Book (best audio recording). Click the YouTube video below to listen to a sample of the audio.