Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Scorpio Races

A book that your mom loves.

My mother handed this book to me a year ago, as we were getting ready to go to my first Texas Teen Book Festival. In fact, she pushed it into my hands with a delighted smile and insisted I read it. But while we read a lot of the same books, I was a little hesitant to pick it up anyway. I can't say why other than she didn't give me much of a feel for the book, I didn't know what I was going to be stepping into. But she loved it, my sister loved it, I would give it a shot. A year later. After a lot of bugging. It was worth it.

Oh wow should I have read it sooner. I have yet to read any of Stiefvater's books, taking my time to pick up her Shiver trilogy until I can get all three books and not have to wait in between, so this was my introduction to the writer, and what a meeting it was. Maggie takes a myth that has fascinated her for most of her life and pieces bits of it together from different legends, and makes it her own. And she does so beautifully. Being both a horse lover and a lover of myth, there was no other path but love for me to take, and Maggie's amazing writing style simply helped make the trip easier.

The capaill uisce (Irish pronunciation CAPple ISHka) are a race of water horses that wash up on the beaches of this small island. They have done it for hundreds of years, having formed some sort of bond with the men of the island who sacrifice a bit of blood for the honor of riding these fierce creatures. Only, sometimes the bit of blood isn't enough. The Scorpio Races, which are run every November, are bloody, chaotic events in which the men ride their barely held mounts a little too close to the water to tap into the magic of the creatures for speed. Sean Kendrick was nine years old when he watched one of the horses nearly tear his father in half during the race, but that didn't stop him from racing when he got older, and now he is the four time winning champion of the races. But he wants to own the horse he races for the man that owns half the island, no longer in fear the beautiful animal he has formed a bond with will be torn from him. Enter Puck Connelly, a girl who is used to fading into the background and likes her privacy there. Her older brother is leaving for the mainland, leaving her and her younger brother behind, and in a last ditch effort to keep him close a little longer, she proclaims she will ride in the races as well, the first girl to do so ever. Only she doesn't like the beasts that tore her parents from her the year before, refuses to ride one, and instead thinks riding her regular horse in the races will be a good idea. What unfolds is an incredible story about what the races are really about, what people need when they think they need nothing, and how much  can truly change in a matter of week, even on a tiny island.

So apparently, since I have spoken out about first person a little too many times, the universe has decided I will be given many example of why this particular point of view is in fact awesome and beautiful, and here are some authors that know what they are doing! The Scorpio Races alternates between Sean and Puck, each telling their stories from their view points and giving you insight into two very different, but kinda similar people. You know what the best thing was? They didn't overlap. I hate it when the author feels you need the same scene from both characters point of view, it is redundant and boring. Stiefvater has no qualms moving on, not letting you see that one scene from Sean's point of view so you know what was going through his head, because hey, she already told you what happened. I love it!

SHe also does a great job of introducing just enough myth into the real world that you can believe that somewhere out there is an island where water horses come onto land in storms to eat flesh before melding back into the sea. In fact, it is kind of a perfect book for someone that loves horses to dip their tow in the water of fantasy. I myself used Peter S. Beagle's short stories to introduce me to the world of fantasy and have never looked back, but boy am I wishing Maggie had written a couple decades earlier so that I could have been introduced to her wonderful imagination sooner!

Definitely give the book a try. Give Stiefvater a try. Let me know what you think of it! Do you love it as much as I did? Do you love it as much as my MOM did? Let us know!

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