First of all, this is not a review of The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. It’s more of a love letter. Because I LOVED this book. The premise of this YA Fantasy is pretty simple: set in the contemporary world circa 1920s or thereabouts, there is an island called Thisby whose waters (and at certain times land) is inhabited by magical flesh-eating seahorses. And once a year some of the more courageous of Thisby’s inhabitants, capture, train, and ride those horses in the Scorpio Races, a huge tourist-attracting event. The story, told in two alternating first person points-of-view, focuses on two of those riders who both have desperate and heartbreaking reasons to win the race.
Now, as a horse woman with years and years of experience both in the saddle and on the ground, I was a little concerned about the idea of flesh-eating monster horses — as in why would I want to read about that? I mean real life horses can sometimes be scary enough without razor-sharp teeth and a craving for meat and blood. Horses are big and often unpredictable. They have minds and personalities of their own. It hurts when they bite, kick, run you over. They can even kill you.
But then I started to hear good things about the story and decided to give it a try. I’m so very glad I did. Not only did the story blow me away with its beautiful setting, fierce/wonderful/fully-real characters, and a tension that builds like a slow scalding fire, but it also moved me on a deeply personal level, the level where my love of horses resides. When I finished it, I felt as if Maggie Stiefvater had reached inside me, captured my love of my horses, and wove into her story like magic. It was as if she’d written it just for me. It’s the story version of my love for this guy and his love for me:
First as a baby…
And now today…
You don’t have to be a horse lover to love this story, but being one makes the experience all the richer. Horses are more than pets. They’re trusted friends and partners. When you climb on a horse, you must trust it to carry you and to take care for you. You ask it to submit and to give, even as you submit and give back. There’s no feeling quite like it in the world — and The Scorpio Races embodies it.
P.S. Be sure to come back in the fall. I plan on holding a contest to give away the book (unfortunately, the ARC I read isn't mine, and I wouldn't be able to part with it even if it was, I love it that much)