Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Scorpio Races

By Maggie Stiefvater, 409 pages

I have never been one for horse stories. Some people love them, some people do not, I have always firmly fallen into the latter category.

In this horse story, however, the horses eat people.

Yeah, got my attention too! Add to that an author who has been churning out popular books like there's no tomorrow and the book appearing on a slew of award and watch lists, and I had to read it pretty soon! The story has two main characters, both residents of the island of Thisby. Thisby is the home of the water horses, aquatic beasts who slightly resemble land horses but have a carnivorous appetite. The animals live in the ocean, but every fall come out of the water on the beaches of Thisby. The residents of the island are at once terrified and entranced by the beasts, people have died, every year for hundreds of years, but yet the people embrace the creatures with festivals and the Scorpio Races. This annual horse race drives the economy of the island where hundreds come to watch men ride the dangerous horses and tempt death. Sean Kendrick knows the horses all too well, his father was killed in the races before his eyes as a child and he has been catching and training the horses ever since. He is also the reigning champion, riding one of the best water horses on the island. Perhaps this year, if he wins again, he will have enough money to buy his beloved horse from his employer and finally be his own person. Puck has a different story. She was never that interested in the Scorpio Races, but that changed last year when her parents were killed by the horses in their boat. An orphan now, Puck is doing everything she can to keep her family - an older and a younger brother - together. Unfortunately, she needs money, and suddenly taking the risk of racing is her only option. But only one can win...

I found this book to be one of Stiefvater's best. The concept of the water horses gives just enough grit to make it less of a 'horse story' and more of a thriller. Pick it up if you haven't yet!

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