So a while back I read Stiefvater’s werewolf books. They were totally outside my usual reading parameters, but I am super glad that I gave them a whirl because despite the fact that they were angsty YA paranormal stories, I still weirdly enjoyed them (and not just because the cover art was A+ gorgeous!). So I definitely knew I wanted to find some more of Stiefvater’s books, but she hasn’t actually written all that many. The Raven Cycle books are still on my series TBR, but The Scorpio Races is a standalone, so I thought I would give it a try.
While we are never given a clear time period for the tale, it has a very 1920’s-feel, with a few cars and electricity, but not a lot else going on technology-wise. Of course, that could be because our setting is a remote island somewhere that sounds very northern-British-Isles. The opening line is brilliantly enthralling and smidge terrifying:
It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.
The story is told in alternating viewpoints between Sean, a young man who works as the head groom for the richest man on the island; and Puck, an orphan girl who is trying to hold her family together. Both Sean and Puck were very likable, and their narration felt personable without devolving into constant introspection about feelings.
The island of Thisby is very much like another small islands: most of the people make a living by fishing, they are poor but close-knit, and there isn’t a whole lot in the way of entertainment or job opportunities. But Thisby has one major thing that makes it different: the capall uisce. These creatures look like horses, but live most of their life in the ocean. They come ashore every autumn, which is when the people of Thisby try to catch them so that they can race in the Scorpio Races. But the water horses are cruel and vicious. They eat meat and kill livestock and humans. While you may be able to control them for a time, they are never really tamed. And so, when the races are run on the first of November – someone always dies.
Even though this book is leading up to and is centered around the races, it is really about so much more. It’s about family and growing and hanging on and letting go. And it’s all woven through a story that was fast-paced and completely engaging.
While there were things about The Scorpio Races that I would have changed – mainly because I like my endings 100% happy and this one was a bit on the bittersweet side – it kept me racing through the pages and made me yearn for a sequel. 4/5 and recommended.
Also, Sophie also reviewed this book, so be sure to check out her thoughts!