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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
The Scorpio Races
Format: Kindle Edition|Change

on 7 September 2017
I guess The Scorpio Races and I were not meant to be. This was my third attempt at this book, and the first time I completed it thanks to the audiobook (and surprisingly quickly, too). The story is told in alternating first person perspectives, and the audio helped me tell them apart, because on paper they didn't read as that different. It also meant I could absorb more of the story, which I couldn't manage to pull myself through before.

But despite the help of the audiobook, I never truly connected to the story or it's characters. The language lacked personality for me, and went on when it didn't need to. There were lines that felt as if they were written in a more complicated way than they needed to be, which sometimes worked in the story's favour, but most of the time just pulled me away. The story itself was not highly action based which I don't always mind, but because I wasn't feeling the words I was reading (or hearing) it felt doubly slow. As for the characters, I never felt much emotion towards them. I couldn't understand the motives behind their choices or get a grasp on what their personalities were, and the side characters largely blurred into one for me. Plus the romance made little sense to me because the characters interactions felt pretty minimal.

As I said before, sometimes a book and a person are not meant to be. I've seen plenty of reviewers I trust and have similar interests with share their love for this book, but either I am a few years late or the magic was lost on me, because I felt no connection. I adored The Raven Cycle more than words can say, but perhaps those books were made for me in a way that The Scorpio Races wasn't.

Warnings: death, blood, violence, death/injury/abuse of animals
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on 9 September 2017
A good original idea and enjoyable plot. The capaill uisce are terrifying and I'm sure were the cause of some most peculiar dreams at the time I was reading this book! I wouldn't say this is an exciting read, whilst it had moments of suspense, it was mostly just enjoyable and easy going. I wouldn't read it again but I did enjoy the journey.
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on 6 August 2017
My 14 year old daughter loved this book.
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on 17 April 2012
From start to finish I couldn't put this book down. It's haunting, mesmerising, evocative. It's spooky, vivid, violent, terrifying. The central characters are believable and well-developed. The structure is perfect, the use of language brilliant. The story is set on a remote island where people struggle to survive its ancient pagan history and the raw, desolate environment. Each year a dangerous horse race must be run on the beach. The riders must fight to control their demonic mounts, who rise from the sea looking to kill and eat whatever they can find - including the riders. The heroine, Puck, is a delight. She's brave and says little but thinks and feels deeply. The water horses are an incredible and imaginative creation. They scare the daylights out of me, such vicious, powerful, magnificent, unpredictable beasts. There's one scene when a wild water horse comes out of the stormy sea and ranges far inland, savaging everything in its path. It turns up at Puck's smallholding. The description of it looking over the fence at night to where Puck and her brother are hiding in the stable with Puck's little pony is alarming. You know it will kill and eat them all if it can get to them. I was breathless, wondering how they'd escape. Frankly, it's one of the best books I've read in ages. Maggie Stiefvater is an incredible author. I hope it becomes a classic. I would love to find another book to match this, but I'll have to keep looking because suspect that Maggie Stiefvater might return to her more girly style of writing for her next book or two. As far as I'm concerned that would be a shame.
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on 15 October 2017
I think a lot of people that struggled with this book perhaps didn't understand what it was about. If you are looking for fast paced action then this isn't for you! It's not just about the horses its more about people, relationships and interactions, and the hardship of life. I don't know if it resonates with me because I've experienced traumatic loss and hardship, or because of my childhood love of horses and fairytale. But this is one of my favourites stories, the picture the author creates of the island and the people (and the horses) make you feel like you are there. The audio version is brilliant, perfect narrators and my go to when I'm stressed or can't sleep. I do kind of understand why for many this isn't a favourite of the authors, but for me, I just love it!
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on 29 August 2012
When I first heard about 'The Scorpio Races' I really loved the idea behind the story. It's based on the myth of the capaill uisce or water horses who once captured from the sea, are believed to be the fastest creatures to run on the land. The book is set on the small island of Thisby, where the Scorpio Races take place annually between the terrifying flesh-eating water horses, who may be fast but are also dangerous creatures who have been known to kill their human riders. Although the premise was amazing, I found that when I started reading I didn't immediately connect with the story which was slow to get going and didn't grip me as I thought it would have. I kept waiting for it to completely engage me and sweep me away but it never really happened.

What I did like about the book was the beautifully lyrical descriptions of the water horses themselves. I could sense the love which Maggie Stiefvater feels for these magical beasts in every passage written about them. I thought she had captured perfectly the image of the thrashing horses, determined to return to their beloved ocean, the salty tang and spray of the sea, the bitter cold of the island itself and the wildness which surrounds it. It almost felt like another world, separated from the reality of life on the mainland.

The story itself may have fallen a little flat for me, but the characters really grew on me and I particularly liked the blossoming friendship between local girl Puck who lives on the island with her two brothers and the stoical Sean Kendrick. Both want to win the race for their own personal reasons but there can only be one winner and as they grow closer together, it becomes harder for each of them to imagine what will happen to the one who loses. Sean has previously won the race four times and is an expert on horses, but is determined to win this time so that he can win his freedom and that of his beloved horse Corr. I loved the connection between Sean and Corr. The two have an amazing and genuine bond between them and Sean is the only one who is able to calm Corr and ride him safely. He puts the welfare of the horses he looks after before anything else and his selfless nature means that he's willing to help Puck to train for the same race he must win.

Puck is headstrong and stubborn and although she feels fear about competing in the races, she won't back down from the challenge. I loved Puck and her brothers Finn and Gabe, especially Finn who doesn't know how to take a compliment. Although their parents are both dead and Gabe is set on moving to the mainland, they still felt like a genuine family unit and I enjoyed reading the scenes between the siblings.

It was refreshing to read a standalone YA story for a change, as so many books now seem to be part of a trilogy or a series. If you love horses then you're sure to enjoy 'The Scorpio Races' or if you're a Maggie Steifvater fan then you'll definitely want to check this one out. Although the story didn't completely win me over, I did find myself falling in love with the ruggedness of the island of Thisby itself and the ending of the book was absolutely perfectly written.
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on 8 April 2017
I have read all of Maggie Stiefvater's novels, and (in my opinion!) this is without doubt the most thrilling and enjoyable story she's written so far. Of course the book was released a few years ago now and my first copy is now somewhat tattered and needs replacing (which I will happily comply to as the new paperback cover is simply gorgeous), I can still read it and be awed by the detail and believable characters. If you love horses, adventure and a healthy mix of fantasy and danger, then the Scorpio Races could well be the book for you!
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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 October 2011
Maggie Stiefvater has already mastered faeries and werewolves. But in "The Scorpio Races," she turns her sights to a more obscure supernatural creature -- deadly Celtic water-horses -- and wraps them in a story of blood, sea mist and windswept beaches. While the story itself is rather slow to unfold, it gives Stiefvater lots of time to flesh out her teen riders.

On a small Irish island, there is a special race every November. Many men and boys ride the capaill uisce (pronounced "copple ooshka") -- the swift, beautiful, bloodthirsty water horses, which want to either drown their riders or eat their flesh. They often succeed.

Puck is the first girl to ever enter the race, but terrible memories make her reluctant to accept a capall uisce, so she decides to ride her land mare, Dove. If she doesn't win, she and her brothers will lose their home. Sean Kendrick is a boy with a special knack with the capaill uisce. He catches, trains and sometimes kills the water horses, and no one knows their ways better than he does.

But as the race approaches, both the young riders are confronted by terrible problems -- the entire village is opposed to Puck racing, and Sean clashes with his cold, cruel employer over a prize stallion. And even as Sean and Puck grow closer, they begin to fall in love... but only one of them can possibly win the race.

"The Scorpio Races" is a story rich with Irish atmosphere -- salt spray, grey stones, ancient rituals and a tradition reaching back further than memory. And unlike most teen fantasies, this one doesn't have supernatural creatures who look like sexy teenage boys -- the capaill uisce are violent, wild beasts who crave blood and the sea, evoking both terror and awe.

Like her Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, Stiefvater alternates between Sean and Puck's perspectives, giving us different glimpses of their lives. The only problem with the plot is that it moves very slowly, but Stiefvater splashes it with stormy action scenes and a climax that races by at lightning speed. And her prose is simply exquisite -- one capall uisce is "a fearful dull Pegasus with disintegrating wings of sea foam" and teeth "the color of dead coral."

Stiefvater also crafts a pair of truly compelling lead characters -- Puck is a fierce, strong-willed young woman hurt by the loss of her family, and unwilling to let anyone tell her what she can't do. And Sean is a near-silent young man who has an innate touch with all horses, and a passionate connection to the stallion Corr. Their romance is handled delicately, with few words and lots of horse-training; it's also unusually complicated, since they both desperately need to win the race, but only one can.

While recognizable in its poetic prose and haunting tone, "The Scorpio Races" is unlike any other book Stiefvater -- or other paranormal-romance writers -- have ever created. Slow but sublime.
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VINE VOICEon 7 July 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Maggie Stiefvater takes elements from myth and legend and runs with them. Living in the Scottish Highlands, I was already familiar with the celtic legend of the 'each uisge' ('capall uisge' in Irish), the beautiful but wild water horses who will drag you away from the safety of land and consume you. As she explains in an author's Note, there is more to the myth than that - the horses can disguise themselves as beautiful young men. Perhaps because she'd already covered the shapeshifting thing in other books like "Shiver", Stiefvater omits this aspect of the story and concentrates here on the beauty and savagery of the horses and their uneasy relationship with the land and the people who live on it. She does this by setting her story within a remote island community where the economy depends on an annual festival, a pagan tourist magnet which climaxes in the bloodthirsty "Scorpio Races" where young men vie for a life-changing cash prize by catching and riding the 'capaill uisge' in an intense race along the island's beaches.

There are two important romances in the book: the burgeoning human one between plucky teenager Puck Connolly, who wants to be the first woman to ride in the races - and famed horse-whisperer Sean Kendrick. The other is between Sean and his horse, the terrifying and magnificent Corr. In a sense, Corr stands for the sea itself; the chaotic power which both surrounds and sustains the island of Thisby. There's a steady exodus of young people from the island, drawn away to a more promising life on the mainland - but Sean and Puck belong to the landscape they inhabit every bit as much as the horses who emerge from the sea to give reluctant service to its inhabitants.

'The Scorpio Races' is a thoughtful book, lyrical, poetic and beautifully written, with finely-drawn chavaters and a keen understanding of marginal people, drawn to the edges of the land and the edges of society. It's a rewarding read for any age group.
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on 9 March 2012
I have read Maggie Stiefvater's Wolves of Mercy Falls series and although I enjoyed them and read all three books, I didn't fall in love with them. I thought I'd give The Scorpio Races a go, knowing from the reviews it was very different to the author's other books, but quite liking her style of writing and really unique ideas. I'm really glad I did, because while The Scorpio Races wasn't what I was expecting in terms of genre, I really enjoyed it. I found myself thinking about Puck and Sean and their wild island long after I'd finished the book (which, needless to say, took me no time at all as I didn't want to put it down). If you are after a traditional supernatural/fantasy story, then you won't find that here. What you will find is a beautifully descriptive, haunting and quite raw story of love - love between siblings, love of animals and tender new love. One of those books that made me think a little differently about the world.
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