Book Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater

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.
Release Date: October 18, 2011
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Source: Review copy from publisher

I have so many feelings about The Scorpio Races.  On one hand, I enjoyed the book.  On the other hand, I was still harboring disillusionment over the ending of Forever that it tempered my enjoyment of The Scorpio Races.  I kept saying to myself: "I'm reading about horses that eat people and I still don't know if the cure worked on Grace!!!"  In the end, I was able to overcome my lingering negative feelings (no pun intended) about the end of Steifvater's Wolves of Mercy Falls series to really enjoy, and furthermore, appreciate The Scorpio Races.

Going off of the summary, I thought that this book would be about horses and racing.  For some odd reason, I thought it was a dystopia.  It is not---I have yet to learn the actual classification--but for me, it was a paranormal fiction.

The idea of water horses is very unique.  I have never heard of them before, with the exception of traditional sea horses with curly tails.  But these are no benign, cute sea horses.  These are normal looking horses, with the exception of square pupils, that live in the sea and once a year, come out of the water to live on land until the sea calls them back.  The water horses are only found on the island of Thisby.  The men of the island catch the water horses and race them every year.  This is the main event of the island, but the races are dangerous: riders who fall from their horses are either dragged into the sea and drowned or they are eaten by the horses.  The facts surrounding the sea horses were murky for much of the book.  Steifvater clues you in bit by bit (something that usually keeps me interested but in this case made me want to stop reading in frustration).

At the end of the book, there is an Author's Note where Steifvater talks about why she wrote about sea horses and the mythology the capall usice are based on.  I found myself wishing I would have read the Author's Note first.  I think it would have made me like the book more.  As it was, I kept stumbling over the words: capall uisce (the proper name for the water horses).  I had no idea how to pronounce the words and kept wondering how I should be saying it, instead of just pronouncing it phonetically.  Finally, a character sounds the words out and I learned how I should be saying capall uisce to myself.  But, by then it was too late and I was already in the habit of mispronouncing the words. 

The best part of The Scorpio Races was the emotion.  Similar to The Wolves of Mercy Falls series, The Scorpio Races is highly emotional and intense.  Stiefvater sets the scene so that you really feel like you are there.  Everything was described in detail: from the water horses themselves, to the townspeople, to Thisby's beach and weather.  This kind of description makes for an emotional and intense read.  My most favorite part of the book was the very end.  I love what Corr does!!  It made me tear up.  I also really liked that The Scorpio Races was a stand-alone novel.  I love having closure, not having to wait for months to years to find out what happens.  Steifvater resolves the conflict in a way that satisfied me, and I was left feeling moderately happy (it's hard to feel 100% happy in the midst of people dying).

Fans of Steifvater will love The Scorpio Races.  People who are on the fence with Maggie's books will most likely enjoy this one.  


  1. I ordered this book but have put it off due to my feelings towards the end of Forever, so I completely get/loved your review!

  2. Sounds excellent. I can't wait to read the other series and see what you mean. It seems everyone has a strong opinion about it :)

  3. I read the authors note before I read the book. This book made up for Forever for me. I loved it so and so different from other books out there.

  4. I can't wait to read this one! As for Grace, I'm an optimist so believe she's cured and happily married. :D

  5. I haven't read this one yet, but I've been hearing mostly good things. Still, I'm not sure if it sounds totally like my kind of book.

    I would have thought that the words would have been explained because how is anyone who doesn't speak Irish going to know how to pronounce uisce? It's Ish-ka if anyone wants to know. :)

  6. I like the sound of the palpable emotions that seem to really translate to the reader well, and the idea of water horses does sound unique. And I agree, having closure really is the best.

  7. Is this book part of a series? I thought it was but I can't find any confirmation...

    If it is, I'm a bit apprehensive on reading it. After Forever (and from what I hear, Ballad as well), I can't take another inconclusive ending to a series again.


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