Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Scholastic (October 18, 2011)
How I got this book: Bought
Links: Amazon Goodreads

Blurb from Goodreads:

It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

My rating: 5/5 Stars – Loved it! It totally rocked my socks off.


The Scorpio Races is a creative, emotional, magical tale, and I utterly loved it.  Building from a unique premise, Stiefvater crafts a world that is fantastical, yet feels completely real.  Her characterization is superb, always showing (not telling) how all of the characters, including the horses, have their own personalities, desires, and motivations.  Even the secondary characters like Gabe, Peg, Malvern, and Holly feel like real people, their own internal conflicts revealed through their words and actions or even more subtle clues such as a snippet of a half-overheard conversation.  I could write an entire essay analyzing any one of these characters alone, which really speaks to how masterfully Stiefvater wrote them.

If the secondary cast is that complex and dynamic, then I can hardly begin to describe how much I loved the two main characters.  Puck and Sean are perfect, flawed, compelling, believable, changeable, lovable protagonists.  At its heart, The Scorpio Races is a love story (in more ways than one), but romance is not its focus.  Instead, it’s a story about two people trying to overcome their own obstacles and find what they each need to be happy, and, in the process, they find each other.  Puck and Sean’s relationship feels natural and develops organically throughout the book.  Their conversations are fraught with meaning, and their interactions go beyond superficial attraction.  Although it’s most definitely a love story, The Scorpio Races is about more than just Puck and Sean; it’s bigger and more meaningful than a simple romance.

Indeed, this book is thought provoking in ways that I didn’t expect.  It leads us to question, what is happiness and what do we need in order to be happy?  What ties us to a place or makes someplace our home?  What is the importance of family and tradition?  In thinking about the meaning of the races, so much can be read into it – paganism vs. Christianity, man vs. nature, a discourse on female power, and more.  In fact, I’d love to read a literary analysis of this novel!  (‘Cause I’m a nerd like that.)  There are so many themes and so much symbolism rolled into this story, yet it doesn’t feel burdened, forced, or obvious; instead, it adds layers of meaning that make this book intellectually engaging.

The ending of the novel destroyed me emotionally.  It’s one of those books where you’re desperately  wishing for all the characters’ hopes and dreams to come true, but you know that it can’t happen that way without betraying the honesty of the story.  Still, even though it made me cry, I loved the ending, and I know that this is a story that will stay with me for a long, long time.  The Scorpio Races is one of the most beautifully written, haunting, intelligent, and thought provoking young adult novels I’ve ever read.  I couldn’t recommend it more highly.

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About Lesley

I love big dogs, ravioli, and all things nerdy. Books are my crack.
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