Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Once each year, the small island of Thisby is overrun with tourists anxious to see the Scorpio Races, horse races run on the beach by riders on meat-eating water horses, who would as soon kill their mounts as race. This island is set into a vague timeframe, where many of its residents still believe in the old pagan traditions, and there is no mention of television or other technology. Although cars do exist, they remind readers of the early Model T’s rather than the hybrids so popular today. Into this setting, Stiefvater introduces her readers to her two main characters who narrate the story in alternating first person voices. First we meet nineteen-year-old Sean Kendrick, the four-time winner of the races who is said to have a magical way with the capaill uisce (CAP-ul ISH-kuh) and is the head trainer at the islands largest horse ranch. He is a young man of few words, his main devotion being to the water horse he races each year named Corr. Kate Connelly (nicknamed Puck) loves her mare Dove, but has lost both parents to a boating accident involving the water horses. She is forcing herself to enter the race in order to save the family home she shares with her two brothers. Sean’s motivation is the hope of finally being able to buy Corr from Malvern, the aptly named nasty owner of the horse farm at which he works. Both characters love Thisby and would never consider moving to the Mainland the way Puck’s older brother and many of the other young people do. The problem is that only ONE of them can win the race. To complicate the situation even more, the two young adults are beginning to have feelings for each other that are much more than simple friendship.
This compelling book will capture readers’ interest and hold them tight until the last page. It is a big change from the author’s werewolf romance series Shiver, but won’t disappoint her fans and will add new ones to the fold. This book will work for both middle and high school, boys and girls. I recommend it for fans of adventure stories, paranormal readers and Stiefvater’s loyal readers.