A guest post by Author Charles Markee
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
On the fictional island of Thisby, an annual race takes place in which men ride the capall uisce, mythical water horses. Unlike the horses that you and I know, these are animals of great beauty, power, speed and danger; carnivores that can turn on their riders or other horses, and kill them. Such is the backdrop for the story related by seventeen-year-old Kate (Puck) Connolly.
Thisby Island is basically a rock protruding from the North Atlantic into a dystopian environment of fierce, ragged and unfriendly weather. Puck and her brothers, Gabe and Finn are orphaned and live there in abject poverty. About to be evicted, her only chance for keeping their home and remaining on the island is to ride and win the Scorpio Race, in which no female has ever been allowed. Moreover, she’d have to beat her friend and romantic interest, Sean, the current champion.
Sean is a stable hand for the wealthy Malverns, who own him and almost everything else on the island. Their son, Mutt, hates Sean, who has won the race the last four years. Since the horse he rides, Corr, is owned by the Malverns, Sean receives a pittance of the purse. However, it’s Sean’s special ability with the mystical horses as well as everyone’s acceptance of the capall uisce as normal that makes this story more magical realism than fantasy.
Stiefvater paints every scene with wonderful figurative language. The rural community on Thisby comes alive under her pen. Her language is a joy to read. Also, the story is crafted so that its characters develop naturally. However, as well as this is written, I found the voice of the two main characters, Sean and Puck, so similar that I often confused them and had to return to the chapter title, to know what character I was reading. Regardless, I highly recommend this as a great read for adults or young adults.–CM
Thank you to author Charles Markee for allowing me to post his review of The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater. Charles is also a gifted writer of novels for students. His series OTHERWORLD TALES feature the novels IRISH THE DEMON SLAYER and DEMON INVASION, both of which grab the middle grades boys’ attention in their quest for adventure.
Thank you for posting this article by Charles Markee. He always gives a fair and comprehensive critique of the YA and MG books. This book sounds like it’s something worth taking a look at.
You’re welcome, Jeanne! Yes, Charles is not only an excellent writer, but does insightful reviews too.
You’re right, Jeanne. Doesn’t Charles have a gift for review writing? And he certainly knows how to draw the middle grades students into an action packed novel.