Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

“Some race to win. Others race to survive.”

On the tiny, rocky outcrop of an island known as Thisby, every November brings the Scorpio Races. The island fills with tourists to see the capaill uisge race across the beach. The capaill uisge, better known as kelpie in folklore, are dangerous fairy horses from the water who want nothing more than to drag their prey back to the water and devour them. During October to the first of November, Thisby becomes a maze of safe and unsafe zones from the capaill uisge. As October progresses, the more capaill uisge emerge from the sea. Islanders wishing to compete in the future races, hunt down the horses when they are the most dangerous; hungry and sea mad. Those competing in this year’s race train the horses they caught years earlier. They are somewhat docile until they smell the fall sea and the magic inside calls to them.

For nineteen-year-old Sean Kendrick; horses, especially the capaill uisge are his life. A four time champion of the Scorpio Races, Sean watched hi own father die during the Races at the age of nine. His mother left for the mainland so he has lived and worked for Benjamin Malvern at his stable training both horses and capaill uisge for the past ten years. All he wishes for in life is a roof over his head that he can call his own and Corr, the red stallion capall uisge he has rode to victory. Somewhat of a horse whisperer, Sean is respected and a bit feared on the island but the Malverns’ own son, Matthew better known as Mutt, despises Kendrick with a passion. Sean has a lot on his mind with the upcoming Races and mainland horse buyers wandering through the stables before a local girl turns his world upside down.

The past year has been difficult for the Connollys. Kate, better known as Puck and her two brothers; Gabe, six years older and quiet, sensitive younger brother Finn have struggled since their parents’ death at the hands of the capaill uisge. When Gabe announces he is leaving for the mainland, Puck says she is entering the Scorpio Races. Gabe will stay until the race is over. With Gabe slipping through their fingers, Puck goes forward with her intentions to enter the race. The first girl to do so, she soon realizes that no one will take her seriously and allow her to be the rider of their capall uisge. In looking over the rules, Puck realizes that she can enter and ride her own dun mare, Dove. When Ben Malvern comes to the Connolly house, the news is not good. Delinquent on their mortgage since their parents’ death, he has come to evict them.

As Puck gets thrown into the competition, she soon runs into Sean Kendrick. She knows who is but having grown up in a family who was never involved in the Races; their paths haven’t crossed until now. With everyone on the island telling her she has no business racing; Kendrick tries to help her obtain a capall uisge for the Race. She eventually declines because of her parents’ death. One day while training with Dove, Sean privately tells her to get her pony off of the beach. At other times in public, his manner is aloof but he stands up for against the other competitors. Soon thoughts of Sean Kendrick begin to creep onto her mind, especially when he gives her a few pointers one day.

As the day of the Races draws closer, Puck and Sean continually find themselves in each other’s company. Sparks begin to fly as they share each other’s hopes and fears for the future. But only one person can win the Race and inevitability someone will die. Why is Gabe leaving the island for the mainland? Will Puck be successful in the Races? Can Sean escape from under the thumb of Benjamin Malvern and be on his own? Who will die during the Races? And will Puck and Sean’s dreams come true?

Visit Maggie Stiefvater's website.

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