Books for Younguns, Young Adults and the Young-at-Heart

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Scorpio Races

On the island of Trilby, each November the water horses come out of the sea to terrorize and dazzle the natives as well as the tourists who come from around the world to witness the event.  It all culminates in the Scorpio Races, a contest that discovers the fastest horse and always has a death toll.  Sean has won the past four years, but Puck and her land horse are racing for the first time...

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater is a Printz Honor Book for 2012.

This tale, told in alternating voices of Sean and Puck, moves slowly, perfect for those who relish the atmospherics.  There is still plenty at stake and enough exciting situations, but the forebodingly ethereal island is truly another character.  The romance (because of course there's romance) unfolds naturally in the background while the life-or-death risk of the race always takes center stage.  The horses are fully developed and compelling in their own right.  This is, at its heart, a very grown-up version of a horse book.  The sexism Puck encounters after stating her desire to ride in the race (the first woman ever to do so) is all-too-believable and seeing it addressed head-on is a nice bonus.  While this book hit a few of my pet peeves (I'll save you the trouble:  It's meant to be pronounced CAP-el ISH-ka), it proved a surprisingly mature literary effort; an experience that has improved as I've had more time to contemplate it.

The Scorpio Races is published by Scholastic Press and retails for $17.99 (hardcover).  I received my advance reader copy from the publisher (although this review was not solicited or otherwise compensated).  You can get yours at Left Bank Books today!

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