The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater is an exceptional blend of fantasy, romance, and action that is sure to appease any YA lit fan (teens as well as adults). The annual racing of the capaill uisce (water horses) is nearing, and orphaned Kate Connolly (Puck, to those who know and respect her) is racing to earn enough money to save the house her brothers were raised in. But she is the first female to ever enter the Scorpio Races (taken after the name of the body of water as well as the time of the year in Astrology terms), and is getting serious backlash from the men who put a lot of money (and mortality) into the race.
The parallel story line is that of Sean Kendrick, another orphan who has won the race four out of six times and is the best capaill uisce jockey/trainer on Thisby island. He wants desperately to win one more time so he can finally afford to buy his precious water horse from the island’s horse mogul (and his boss), Mr. Malvern.
The individual story lines are intriguing enough, but the book improves drastically when they eventually merge together. Every character in this book is complex enough to not be stereotypical (even the villain surprises the reader), so the reader is never bored.
The picture Stiefvater paints of Thisby Island is actually quite believable, because there is an island off the coast of Maryland called Smith Island that is all but impervious to the changes of time. The residents speak with a British accent (because their island was originally inhabited by individuals and families from the United Kingdom), and according to the most recent census there are less than 300 residents. While reading this book I could easily imagine the Scorpio Races taking place on Smith Island. (Fact: Stiefvater is from Virginia…I wonder if Smith Island is even on her radar…)
I will leave you with this Ryan Gosling meme, because…well, because why not.