Friday, November 18, 2011

The Scorpio Races

It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.
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.

I did not love this book from the start.

There are some books that you fall in love with from page one, that you love at the beginning and you love at the middle and you love at the end and it's all just a great circle of love.

But then there are some books that creep up on you, that work their magic on you so slowly that it's not until you're almost finished, or you've closed the book, that you realize, Hey. That was pretty fantastic. 

This was one of those books.

At the beginning, I was not wild about it.  Sure, Maggie's writing was as gorgeous as ever, but I wasn't quite connecting with the characters and there were so many names being flung about it and I just didn't get it.

But the characters, like the book as a whole, grew on me.  And not just the humans. The horses, too.  By the end of this book, I was completely, entirely in love with Sean, Finn, Dove, Dori, George Holly, Peg Gratton, and even Puck, with  her fiery temper.  I never grew to like Gabe because I still feel like he's a terrible person for what he's doing, but I didn't hate him, because despite it all, I understood him.  I loathed Mutt Malvern, as I was supposed to, and then there were the characters who I didn't love or hate, because they weren't lovable or hatable, they were just them, and that was all they needed to be for this story.  They were lovely and complex, coarse and simple, all entirely different people united by the thread that is Thisbe and horses.

And that's really what it comes down to: the horses.  Maggie Stiefvater wrote a book about an island of savage, carnivorous horses that come from the sea, and she made it beautiful.

The magic of the horses is so wild and gorgeous and real, and it is woven through every word of this book.  The capaill uisce are vicious, untamed creatures that would as soon bite your arm off as let you ride them, but you can't hate them for it, because it is what they are, what the ocean made them.  If you're thinking practically, you might read this book and wonder how on earth the people of Thisbe manage to live and love and fear these horses as they do, but I get it.  Because of Sean and Corr, I get it.  I really do.

The plot of this book is rather slow, and despite the title, the race itself doesn't start till about page 370-something.  But that never really mattered to me.  I don't think it could've been plotted any other way. I don't think anything else could've led to an ending that perfect and beautiful.

This is a 5 stars, ladies and gentleman.



Amen. Also: don't mind me, I'm just going through your archives. These reviews are GREAT.

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