Reviews for Scorpio Races

Booklist Reviews 2011 September #1
*Starred Review* The island of Thisby, somewhere near Britain and replete with cars and electricity, is nevertheless fantastical, the home base of a fierce breed of water horses, the capaill uisce, man-eaters who rise from the autumn seas to terrorize the islanders. They can be captured and somewhat tamed, however, and once a year the island hosts a tourist draw, the Scorpio Races, a beachside contest often fatal to the riders. Sean Kendrick is one of the racers, a four-time champion on his trusty stead. Kate "Puck" Connolly is new to the races and the first woman rider. Due to a loophole in the rules, Kate's riding a regular horse, her beloved Dove, which she trusts to run true against the more frightening contestants. Both riders have deeper personal motives for wanting to win. Filling it with loving descriptions of wet, wind-tossed Thisby as well as exciting equine action, Stiefvater has created a thrilling backdrop for the love story that blooms between Sean and Puck. And in the water horses, based on mostly Celtic legends, she's created scary yet compelling forces of nature. A book appealing to lovers of fantasy, horse stories, romance, and action-adventure alike, this seems to have a shot at being a YA blockbuster. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Spring
Stiefvater's novel, inspired by legends of beautiful but deadly fairy horses, begins rivetingly...and gets better. The narrative alternates between Sean Kendrick, in tune with the magic horses, and Kate "Puck" Connolly, orphaned by the creatures and desperate enough to enter the famed Scorpio Races. Stiefvater sets not one foot wrong as she takes readers on an intoxicating ride of their own. Copyright 2012 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2011 #6
"It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die." Stiefvater's novel, inspired by Manx, Irish, and Scottish legends of beautiful but deadly fairy horses that emerge from the sea each autumn, begins rivetingly and gets better and better...all the way, in fact, to best. Stiefvater masterfully combines an intimate voice (think I Capture the Castle) with a fully evoked island setting with sensory-rich language (think Margo Lanagan) with a wealth of horse detail with a plot full of danger, intrigue, and romance. The narrative alternates between two first-person voices: Sean Kendrick, more in tune with the magic horses than anyone else on Thisby but tied to his stable job by his love for his employer's valuable water horse, Corr; and Kate "Puck" Connolly, orphaned by the vicious creatures and desperate enough (both for money and to keep her small remaining family together) to enter the famed annual Scorpio Races -- though she quietly intends to ride not a water horse but her beloved land mare, Dove. Both Sean and Puck need to win the race and claim the prize money to achieve their dreams, so the tension builds and holds until the climactic scene: the bloody, intoxicating race along the edge of the ocean, where the perils include not just crazed horses but human villainy. Stiefvater sets not one foot wrong as she takes readers on an intoxicating ride of their own. martha v. parravano Copyright 2011 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2011 September #1

The bestselling author of Shiver (2009) and Linger (2010) turns the legend of the water horse into a taut, chilling, romantic adventure.

Each October on the island of Thisby, the capaill uisce, or water horses, emerge from the sea. Predatory meat-eaters, they endanger the islanders—but they are also fast, far faster than land horses, and if captured and very carefully handled, with iron and magic, they can be trained. Every first of November, the water horses are raced on the beach of Thisby; winning the Scorpio Races brings fame and fortune, but losing often brings death. Nineteen-year-old Sean Kendrick runs for the right to buy the water-horse stallion Corr; 16-year-old Katherine, called Puck, pits her land mare against the water horses in an attempt to save her home. Gradually, the two of them, both orphaned by capaill uisce and fighting for the most important object in their lives, become confederates. First-person narration alternates seamlessly between Sean and Puck. The large cast of supporting characters springs to life, particularly Puck's brothers, Finn and Gabe, and Thisby feels like a place you can see and smell. The water horses are breathtakingly well-imagined, glorious and untamably violent. The final race, with Sean and Puck each protecting each other but both determined to win, comes to a pitch-perfect conclusion.

Masterful. Like nothing else out there now. (Fantasy. 13-18)

Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews Newsletter
Every year there is a book that rightly deserve a place on my Best of the Year list but misses the honor because I read it after deadline. Twenty pages into Stiefvater's magical tale of killer horses and their desperate riders, this book became a Top Five favorite. Here, Sean Kendrick is the man to beat. The groom has won the Scorpio Races four times and hopes that a fifth win will allow him to purchase his beloved steed, Corr, one of the deadly capaill uisce, from the stable owner. Orphaned by the man-eating horses, 16-year-old Kate "Puck" Connolly enters the race to keep from losing her family home. Through their alternating viewpoints, the reader is swept up in the breakneck excitement of the race-the only source of income for the residents of the small, cold island of Thisby. The cruelty of Sean's and Puck's circumstances is matched only by their determination to make a better life in this dire and beautiful place. In this year's crowded field of exquisite fantasy, The Scorpio Races may yet pull away and win by a furlong. - "35 Going on 13" LJ Reviews 2/16/2012 (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 August #4

In her closing notes, Stiefvater (the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy) calls this a book "about killer horses"--terrifying faerie creatures that eat meat and seek to drown humans--and, in virtually the same breath, says that it "isn't really about water horses." She's right on both counts. On the island of Thisby, the Scorpio Races are held every November, when the driven or the crazy ride the beaches on the backs of these mounts. Sean Kendrick does it for love, winning year after year on the stallion Corr; Puck Connolly, pitting her ordinary horse against the killers, does it out of desperation, to win money to keep her home and to earn respect from her older brother, who threatens to desert the family. Stiefvater's narration is as much about atmospherics as it is about event, and the water horses are the environment in which Sean and Puck move, allies and rivals to the end. It's not a feel-good story--dread, loss, and hard choices are the islanders' lot. As a study of courage and loyalty tested, however, it is an utterly compelling read. Ages 13-up. (Oct.)¦

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School Library Journal Reviews 2011 November

Gr 8 Up--On the sea-battered and wind-swept isle of Thisby, fall brings the famed and feared capaill uisce, or water horses, and with them, death. These animals are bigger and faster than their terrestrial cousins, and they are carnivorous and predatory. Many islanders have lost family members to the beasts, including narrators Sean Kendrick and Kate Connely. For them, and others, the annual Scorpio Races are both a celebration and a grotesque spectacle. Island men test their mettle and risk their lives racing the water horses, capping a weeks-long festival. Sean, the island's foremost horse expert, races Corr to win the money to finally buy the horse from his boss, Benjamin Malvern. Kate, aka Puck, races her land horse to save her family home from foreclosure by the same man. Both cannot win, and it is doubtful that both will survive. While there is plenty of action, conflict, excitement, and a heart-stopping climax, it is the slowly developing relationship between Kate and Sean that makes the book remarkable. Though different, they are both products of the island and have an intense love for Thisby that is not shared by all of the residents. Stiefvater makes readers care deeply for them, their desolate island, and even the monstrous water horses. The author takes great liberties with the Celtic myth, but the result is marvelous.--Anthony C. Doyle, Livingston High School, CA

[Page 140]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

VOYA Reviews 2011 October
Sean Kendrick and Kate "Puck" Connolly have both been orphaned by the capaill uisce--the water horses that are born from the sea every fall in the small island town of Thisby. Their stories are not uncommon on the island as many families have lost loved ones to the hungry and feral creatures and to the Scorpio Races the horses are used for every November. Sean is a four time champion of the races and has more than just his love for the horses riding on this year's race; his freedom is on the line. Puck is the first girl to sign up for the race, and she must win to save her family. Only one can win the race and many are lucky to even survive, but Puck and Sean learn to lean on each other to survive the deadliest season on the island they both love Fans of Stiefvater's Shiver (Scholastic, 2009/VOYA December 2009) will fall under her descriptive trance once again in The Scorpio Races as she draws the reader into Sean and Puck's captivating world of capaill uisce. The elegant imagery of the town and subtle romance between the two main characters make up for the slight holes in the story, such as Puck's weak motivation for involving herself in the race. Readers may need a little push to get past what initially sounds like a juvenile concept, but will quickly become entranced in this beautifully told coming-of-age story.--Blake Norby 3Q 3P J S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.