Sunday, October 2, 2011

Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater: Horse whispering by the shore

Scorpio Races
by Maggie Stiefvater
Scholastic: New York, 2011
Publishing date 10/18/2011

     On the small isle of Thisby, the arrival of autumn hearlds the start of training for Scorpio Races, a 5-mile slog down cliff-bound beach on the back of barely tamed man-eating horses.   Adapted from the Gaelic and Celtic legends of the kelpie, the blood thirsty water horses are known of as the capall uisce, drawn to shore every year by the November tides.  Yearly, men die in the races, either trampled or mauled by the monstrous animals they race.  Yet the races are the economic and cultural backbone of Thisby, a mid-century fictional island that reminds of a small Irish island.  Four-time race winner and pseudo-horse whisperer Sean Kendrick saw his father die in the race as a child, yet is drawn to the powerful and dangerous capail uisce.  He longs of earning enough to purchase the capall uisce on which he has successfully raced, Corr, from his horse dealer employer.  This year, though, the tides have turned.  Kate “Puck” Connelly, orphaned by the capall uisce, will be the first woman to enter the race, audacious enough to race on a regular horse.  Puck is racing both to save her home from the same horse dealer, and to stall her older brother from migrating to the mainland.  Stoic and quiet Sean is the only man on the island who gives her a chance, even helping her train.  Puck and Sean both have everything to lose and everything to gain, including a friendship that has the potential to blossom into more.  Will they make it through training?  Will Puck be allowed to race?  Will they survive the race?  Who will win?  Who will lose everything?  This book is strongly recommended to girls aged 12-15, and may hold appeal for fans of Stiefvater’s other series. 

     Hokay you guys.  I think we all know that sometimes I can be a h8r.  A real rotten judger.  I was…not impressed by Stiefvater earlier series, Shiver.  I thought it was kind of under cooked.  There was too much stereotypical YA stuff, like horrible, detached parent types, and…whatever.  It annoyed me, probably solely because I didn’t love it the way I wanted to love it when I started it..  And horrible adults! What up.  When someone at the Scholastic booth handed this to me at ALA this summer I was all “Ohhhh…yeah…maybe my kids will like it…”  But then, several months later, I read the blurb and was all “Ooh horsies!”  Did I mention that I am 10?  And hot dayum.  I am so glad I gave it a shot, despite being a prejudicial judgey h8r. 

     Because um…ladyfriends. Is there nothing hotter than like…stoic dudes riding with you on a horse along cliffs?? Or like…being a horse whisperer?  I KNOW. NO THERE IS NOT.  RIGHT?  And Sean is totally cut from the cloth of such stoic hottie greats as like…Coach, on Friday Night Lights.  Or Robert Redford, in ahem, The Horse Whisperer.  He’s all serious, but funny in a wry way.  And in my head, he is also Irish!  Win win!  Puck is also a great female character, because while she is a type (audacious, plucky, hardworking, down home, full of piss and vinegar), she’s not an annoying type, and you want to root for her. But, oooh, slow burning romances, you are so fun.  And the Thisby that Stiefvater creates?  Holy gawd.  It is so vivid and real.  The whole time reading it, I couldn’t help but think of The Secret of Roan Innish, or like…Jacob Have I Loved.  Rustic islands!  Plus, the water horses?  It’s Misty of Chincoteague gone horribly awry!  What a terrifying, fascinating concept.  They live in the sea.  Just around Thisby.  They look, for the most part, like other horses, maybe a little bigger, and a lot faster.  And they eat meat.  Bloody meat.  Humans, other mammals.  Creeptastic!  Seriously.  If you can identify with any of the following categories, you will probably enjoy this book:  a) horse lover b) you’re over overt paranormalcy c) horse lover d) Ireland e) horse racing f) romance, especially the subtle understanded, slow burning kind.   So basically, former all-girls school with a riding program that I worked in, get a copy yesterday…

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