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The Scorpio Races, Maggie Stiefvater

2012/02/14

I distinctly remember being unimpressed by Stiefvater’s popular werewolf novels, the first of which I reviewed during my initial “twenty-five books for a young adult literature class” splurge. So I was pretty skeptical coming to this new novel of hers, despite the high praise and acclaim that I had heard. The premise is interesting enough — wild, dangerous water horses come out of the sea a la Kelpies, and races are held in a deadly competition to see who can stay mounted and alive to the finish. Kate “Puck” Connolly and Sean Kendrick are both born and bred on Thisby; however, their differences could not be more — Kate is youngest sister to two brothers, and ekes out a living baking cookies and painting teapots to sell to tourists, while Sean is stablemaster to Benjamin Malvern, who owns a large stable and training center for ordinary horses and the capaill uisce. But they are both riding in the Scorpio Races — Kate to save her family home, and Sean to win away from Malvern the stallion who he has worked for six years.

I sped through the book in a two hour flurry of reading, and at the end, I have to admit that this is a captivating adventure novel. The pace does drag in the middle, and the romance is a bit contrived, but the book reads well and there is plenty of action. I imagine that this will have a larger female audience than male, given the emphasis on Puck’s being the first woman to ride in the races; and the popularity of horse books, and of Stiefvater’s previous works amongst girls. Stiefvater’s writing has improved greatly, and I would not hesitate to recommend this one, though it might not personally be a first choice.

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