The Scorpio Races
By Maggie Stiefvater
Scholastic Press, 2011. 409 pgs. Young Adult
The Scorpio Races occur every November on the Island of Thisby, but it's not your average horses competing in this race. The "water horses" are terrifying, dangerous beasts, drawn to the ocean and unhesitating to lash out at their riders, usually fatally. After her parents were killed by water horses a year before, Puck enters the race with her real horse, Dove, which has never been done before. If she can win the race she and her brothers will be able to keep their home. Sean Kendrick has won the last four races but still hasn't been able to buy his beloved water horse, Corr. He works for Corr's owner in a large stable yard with many water horses, but has a special relationship with Corr that is like no other. If he can win the race this year, will he finally be able to call Corr his own and draw close the only family he has left?
Puck and Sean's stories wind together in this beautiful novel as they come to know and train with each other. They understand how important it is for each of them to win, but there can still only be one winner. Themes of family, freedom, and coming of age are explored in this book, coupled with a dark but beautiful setting and characters to match. While this is a lovely book, it was a little slow for the first half which could have used a bit more action. One other stumbling block is that there's no clear time period or location for this story. I'll make it easy for you and we'll just say it's the early 1930s, and Thisby is an island off the coast of Wales. I still enjoyed this beautiful story and would recommend it to fans of young adult fiction, fantasy, and especially people who enjoy stories about horses.