Publication Date: 10/18/2011
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 chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.
Thisby Island is unique in many ways, but is most well-known for the Scorpio Races: an event that happens every November and is a race between man, horse, and sea that is every bit as brutal and unpredictable as the people and their mounts that participate. Puck Connolly had sworn off any interaction with the races until she's left without an option. Sean Kendrick is the sea personified and wouldn't have it any other way than to enter, but this year it means more than any other. The island has its way with people, and this November it's a fight to the end.
I want to honestly say that I'm hard-pressed on where to begin with this. It's taken me a week to finish The Scorpio Races when normally I would have finished it in a few hours. 100% of that delay was me wanting to drag it out word by page by perspective so that it would never end. Perhaps a little background is necessary in why I feel so strongly about it. The first promise I ever remember making is to my mom, in the way that children do, that when she won the lottery she would buy me a horse. I read Black Beauty over and over until the copy was worn out, but I wouldn't let anyone throw it away. My favorite place is anywhere that I can be in the water, but specifically on the ocean. There is absolutely nothing like it: the sounds, smells, texture of the sand and the surf washing over your feet, the way the sun sets and rises and glimmers. I love water. Thus the fact that every time I read a sentence in this book I felt like it had been written specifically for me.
I knew Maggie was a ridiculously talented writer after reading Shiver, but this book is in a different league. From the very fist sentence I was hooked as Sean Kendrick watched the capail usice run across the beach, already critical of what was happening in the quiet, knowing way that he has. Despite not knowing anything about what was happening it set up perfectly my wanting to find out everything that I could, and all of that was laid out as the story progressed. One of the best things about the book - and is something that effects the way everything happens - is that the island, aside from being just a setting, is very much a character in the story. Thisby has moods that influence the weather, its history has affected the traditions of the people, and its relative size means that the population has to socialise much closely together than they might have elsewhere.
Here's where I would normally tell you more about the characters, but, really, I want that to be something you experience for yourselves while reading. As a whole, though, all of the characters in the book were so well crafted and each one was absolutely necessary - there's no fluff here. Puck is strong, earnest, blunt, but quite perceptive. She doesn't give up, and she doesn't believe she should have to. Her two brothers, Gabe and Finn have such strong personalities even when they're not present that you might think they have more 'screen time' then they actually do. (This is not a bad thing. I loved Finn in particular.) But I have to say that Sean Kendrick steals the show for me. From this book alone he's catapulted into my top 5 favorite characters and it's almost hard to describe why. Sean is a man of few words, but not in what you might consider a typical broody, leaning against the wall with smoldering eyes sort of way. He's honest, doesn't need much to live on, but he feels so intensely that it's difficult for him to interpret what it could mean.
The interactions with Puck and Sean in this book had me in tears and smiling huge because they never had to yell it out or say it in big speeches or acts. It was gradual and so, so believable. Maggie's beautiful descriptive writing created two characters and made them real.
The Scorpio Races is a book that I will recommend to anyone simply because it has so much to offer. If you love characters? This book is for you. Mythical creatures? Water? Horses? Still for you. From the first sentence to the last this book is, page by page, full of emotions and adventure for you to experience. Just read it slowly, because it will end faster than you'd like.