In a world where vampires and werewolves are constantly being written about, it is refreshing to find something that is a little off the beaten path. It is even more revitalizing when it involves a creature that is not widely known.
In Maggie Stiefvater’s, The Scorpio Races, centers around two young adult characters, who unexpectedly cross paths, and the fantastical creatures, capaill uisce (pronounced copple ooshka). If you are familiar with kelpies, or “water horses”, this may ring a bell.
The book is a compelling read about the capaill uisce, a dangerous and vicious species, and a race among local men who attempt to tame the wild beasts long enough to ride them. For teenager and underdog, Puck Connelly, who is a struggling orphan, the race is the only way to ensure that what is left of her family remains in one piece. On the other hand, Sean Kendrick, the one who knows the species by heart, is riding to ensure his financial freedom.
After Puck Connelly’s parents were killed when their boat capsized, she remained in the small family’s house with both her older and younger brother. Her older brother attempted to bring in enough money for the rest of the remaining family pieces to thrive on. However, he dropped a bomb on the struggling siblings when he announced that he would be moving away from the island where they lived.
This instigated Puck’s decision to enter the race — something a woman had never done before. The strong and determined young woman was refused to be taken seriously among the other men who entered in the race. True to her character’s development, she did not let that stop her. As one who never grew up around the capaill uisce, she was at a major disadvantage. However, as the plot progressed, she adapted to the disadvantages and gave the local racers a run for their money.
Opposite Puck was Sean Kendrick, another rider in the novel. Like Puck, he had lost his father due to a racing accident with the water horses. After his father’s death, Sean was taken in by the island’s biggest stable owner. There, he was employed as a stablehand with the kelpies who had been captured and tamed over the years. With this experience, and his natural ability with the creatures, Sean Kendrick had always been the top dog to win the races, bringing in money for his employer. Sick of working for another and not having his own freedom, Sean rides in the race to break free.
The entire novel is an engrossing piece that envelops the reader from the start — both from the fresh idea, as well as the well-penned paragraphs that fill each chapter.
From an author who previously wrote a trilogy revolving around temperature sensitive werewolves, I was a bit wary to delve into The Scorpio Races. While her former Shiver book trilogy was less than stellar, Stiefvater has completely redeemed herself with the idea behind the capaill uisce. She has taken a unique idea and turned it into a fantasy world filled with emotion.
The two main riders of the novel cross paths and find each other’s help in the training phases of the race. That being said, romance is a mere undertone and does not stand in the way of the plot. Thank God, finally a novel that does not center solely around someone dating someone else. Instead, each character is developed enough to be independent from each other and still prove to be interesting enough to read about. Most of the novel actually depicts the two separated from each other. However, as their paths do cross, Sean Kendrick welcomes Puck under his tutelage and the two develop a fine friendship.
Stiefvater has done an excellent job of developing two characters and allowing their lives to intersect, instead of depending on their “romance” to further the plot along. In fact, the plot would be able to stand alone without the small flame entirely.
Overall, this novel is a compelling read with a fresh and unique take on the fantastical world of literature. It utilizes a penmanship that reads smoothly throughout it’s entirety. With the plot and character development, which took years to create, the novel has come together almost perfectly. It is definitely a book to read to broaden the sense of the fantasy world.
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars