Book Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Scorpio Races

Title: Scorpio Races

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Paperback: 435 p

Rating: 4-stars: Excellent!

“Tomorrow we’ll rule the Scorpio Races as king and queen of Skarmouth and I’ll save the house and you’ll have your stallion. Dove will eat golden oats for the rest of her days and you will terrorize the races each year and people will come from every island in the world to find out how it is you get horses to listen to you. The piebald will carry Mutt Malvern into the sea and Gabriel will decide to stay on the island. I will have a farm and you will bring me bread for dinner.” – Puck

I have challenged myself to read books that I own and have been on my TBR since I joined Goodreads in 2011. I figure if I have been wanting to read a book for almost 7 years, and I own it, I should read it! The Scorpio Races was the first book that fit the bill. I got a second hand copy from my local Goodwill Bookstore, which also happened to be a beautiful reprinted edition, including a gorgeous new cover, an interview with the author which was actually pretty interesting, and a recipe for the delectable November Cakes which are an island favourite in the book.

This is my second Stiefvater book, and I liked it more than the first one, Shiver. However, this book also made me appreciate Shiver more. I like how her books feel very insular. I read in an interview that Steifvater wanted to evoke the timelessness and isolation of island love, which I felt she achieved. They tend to be slow moving, but somehow, you don’t notice because you’re too busy getting sucked into her worlds. Like Shiver, the writing has a floaty, ethereal quality. One thing that stood out to me in The Scorpio Races was all the tiny details that made Skarmouth a real place in my eyes. Tid bits of information about the island’s inhabitants, stories from Puck’s childhood, and information about the food and customs that only an insider would know. All this information felt like it flowed smoothly, there was no info-jamming in this book.

I also appreciated the two main characters, Puck and Sean. Let’s start with Puck. I love how much she loves her island, and doe snot want to leave. It’s refreshing to read about someone who is happy in their current situation, and have no desire to leave their hometown. It also resonated with me that by entering The Scorpio Races, she is starting to put herself out there, without making some huge sweeping gesture, like in, say, The Hunger Games. I also liked how family-oriented Puck is.

For all it’s floaty, ethereal writing, The Scorpio Races are HARSH. Unlike The Hunger Games, the reader doesn’t know they are until something bad happens. We’re told people die in them, but the writing is so beautiful that it’s hard to believe until the first person gets their throat ripped out be a sea horse. There were other parts that struck me when they happened, but I won’t ruin it.

Finally, the story is subtly feminist. For example, Puck complains about having to cook, so her brothers start cooking more. Puck has to deal with sexism and bullying for being the first woman to enter The Scorpio Races. Sean, Puck’s love interest and the other narrator of the story, sees Puck as an equal. Peg Gratton, a town resident, quietly gives Puck advice about being in the Races.

Another great read!

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