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Jan 19, 2012

THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater

Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Scholastic Press (October 18, 2011)

Some race to win. Others race to survive.

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 choice. So she enters the competition - the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

As she did in her bestselling Shiver trilogy, author Maggie Stiefvater takes us to the breaking point, where both love and life meet their greatest obstacles, and only the strong of heart can survive. The Scorpio Races is an unforgettable reading experience.

Maggie Stiefvater, best known until now for her "Shiver" werewolf romances, has created a story of timeless appeal in The Scorpio Races, adapting Celtic water horse legends to create a stark and isolated island community off a mainland that could be Scotland, Ireland or Wales, but is never named. 

 In this close-knit community one boy is legend. Sean Kendrick is gifted with an intuitive understanding of the capaill uisce, almost untamable horses that surge out of the waves on November 1st each year and are captured and trained to run in a life or death race. Sean's employer's capaill uisce, Corr, is the love of Sean's life until a local girl, Puck Connolly, shocks the traditional community by entering the Scorpio races, hoping to use the prize money to save her home from repossession by the owner of the stables Sean works for. 

 The story unfolds in seamless alternating first-person, providing valuable insight into the emotionally wind-swept inner lives of both Sean and Puck, whose terse island manners would otherwise render them remote. 

Puck endures many challengers to her desire to run the race from the misogynistic islanders, and Sean is more of an extension of the sea and land than a member of the community, but their mutual respect of their horses and their desire to preserve what is best about the island of Thisby turns from tentative acceptance, to friendship, to romance. 

 The annual influx of tourists and Americans who migrate to the island for the races provide an interesting foil to the islanders and allow Stiefvater to explore themes of financial inequality, family unity in times of stress, and loyalty to one's homeland vs seeking opportunity abroad. 

 In this affectionate and evocative depiction of small island life Stiefvater has built a mythology and belief system that feels as though it could have existed for hundreds of years, resulting in a poetically rendered and literary respite from the hackneyed excesses of much current YA literature.

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A stop motion animated trailer by Maggie Stiefvater for the October 2011 novel, THE SCORPIO RACES. Done with several hundred frames, some cool paper, and a very manky paintbrush. Music composed by Maggie Stiefvater, performed by Maggie Stiefvater & Kate Hummel.


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