“I hear laughter and someone asks if I need help, not in a nice way. I snarl, “What I need is for your mother to have thought a little harder nine months before your birthday.”
Kate Connolly, also known as Puck, lives on the island of Thisby where once a year the fall tides cause the water horses come out of the ocean onto land. Fierce, untamed, dangerous horses that can kill a man in its jaws, these horses are legend. The locals of Thisby try to catch these horses, train them and tame them for racing. This annual event, The Scorpio Races, are where many locals of Thisby die each year in front of the crowds of tourists who come to watch.
There are two voices in this story, Puck and Sean. Puck’s parents are both dead. She lives with her two brothers trying to make ends meet by selling teapots and odd jobs, but when the landlord comes calling, they know they’re going to lose the house. Then to make matters worse, Puck’s brother Gabe says he is leaving the island. Puck panics and tells him she’s racing In The Scorpio Races keep him around a little longer. But when she signs up for the races, Puck meets challenge after challenge of men not wanting her to race because she’s a woman.
Sean is a young man who works at the local horse yard and has won the race four years in a row. He loves his water horse Corr, but never trusts him because Corr killed his father. He is working everyday for the Malvern’s horse yard to try and earn enough money to buy Corr and become independent, but he can never get Malvern to agree to sell. Sean’s part of the story is him discovering Puck, but also finding the strength to demand his own freedom.
I didn’t enjoy Stiefvater’s Shiver, I remember thinking it was predictable and boring, so I was surprised when I enjoyed this book. In Shiver, the romance was the focus rather than the action or character development, which always annoys me in novels (unless they’re romance novels, then hey, at least you’re being honest!) In The Scorpio Races, the main storyline is about Puck’s new independence and Sean trying to find his way. Yes, there is a little romance thrown in there, but it doesn’t change either character or hold them back, so I thought it enhanced the story rather than retracted from it.
What really made the book for me were the water horses, which I wish could exist so I could see them. They sound magnificent. In addition, Puck’s love for her island and Sean’s loyalty for his horse give the book a little more depth. Overall, The Scorpio Races was nothing spectacular, but a fun read and an enjoyable book nonetheless.
If you’re feeling like a little light reading on a rainy day, I wouldn’t hesitate to pick this one up.