Monday, December 12, 2011

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

"It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die." A great first line opens this fantasy about meat-eating, wild water horses and the people on a small island who attempt to train and race them once each year. Sean Kendrick has a special way with the capaill uisce and has won the race on his horse for the last four years. He works for the richest man in town training other horses both magical and ordinary. His dream is to buy his horse Corr but his boss knows that he can't afford to let Sean go. Sean is further tormented by his boss's son, a mean-spirited, jealous man who would do anything to see Sean fail. Meanwhile, Kate Connelly decides that the only chance she has to keep her older brother on the island and their ragged family intact is to ride in the races herself even though no women have ever entered the race. Terrified of the capaill uisce, she decides to ride her horse Dove against the water horses. This book has a lot to think about and presents what I think is a very realistic vision of life on a small island that relies on tourism. All the characters are shown with depth and flaws and the relationship between Sean and Kate builds slowly. I know that it is well-written and will probably be popular with teens, but I didn't enjoy it myself. The pace was entirely too slow and the seemingly unending deaths made for a looooonnnnng read for me. Reminds me a bit of something about small town life in Maine by Stephen King in terms of how the atmosphere of life on the island is explored in detail.

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