The Scorpio Races

By Maggie Stiefvater,

Book cover of The Scorpio Races

Book description

A spellbinding novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater.

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…

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Why read it?

9 authors picked The Scorpio Races as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Puck is doing all she can to keep her and her brothers together after their parents die from an attack by bloodthirsty waterhorses surrounding their island home of Thisby. I admire how this one fantastical element changes a ‘normal’ life to an ‘otherworldly’ one, and makes the island a strong character in the story. Raising and racing waterhorses is Thisby’s livelihood, and dire circumstances lead to Puck competing for the annual Scorpio Race prize money as the first girl to race, against great odds by riding her beloved island pony. 

I love the feel of the small Thisby and its…

I read this novel on a plane coming back from vacation. (I’d brought Matt Haig’s The Humans, André Alexis’s Fifteen Dogs, and this one—best vacation reading ever!) It took almost 100 pages to get into it, but then I was hooked fast. I wanted to be Sean Kendrick, to have his skill and composure, to hang out with Corr, the water horse (and not get eaten). The narration alternates between Sean and Puck Connelly, an equally strong and dignified character who rides land horses (not as cool). She is why the book is on this list. Her…

From Catherine's list on understated siblings.

I read this book 3-4 times, I forget, that’s how much I love this creepy story. I am a writer who actually doesn’t hold onto books. I believe in sharing them, especially with reluctant readers. But I have a small bookshelf where I keep my favorites, the ones I’ve read twice and probably will again. To me this book is sort of a mix of Far and Away (the movie with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman) meets Jaws, except instead of a shark, there are creepy, man-eating horses! Set on the coast of Ireland. Not super detailed in the…

From Shannon's list on creepy YA for reluctant readers.

The Scorpio Races, inspired by elements of Celtic mythology, has one of the most vivid, mysterious, intense atmospheres of any book I’ve ever read. Add to that that I love the characters, felt true sympathy for their challenges, love the bond shown between human and horse, and felt terrified by the kelpies or “water horses” – and The Scorpio Races is a truly unique reading experience that has stayed with me. In fact, I think it’s time to read this one again! 

The beauty of Maggie’s writing never ceases to amaze me when I read this story. The setting, the characters, and the world she creates sweep a reader in and never let them go. And most of all: the character of Puck shows that standing up for something you want always takes courage but is worth it in the end. 

Each November the Scorpio Races are run—a race of mythological “water horses” that are more likely to drown and kill their riders than they are to run to the finish line. Only males compete in the races, until now. Puck Connolly, the first girl to ever ride, was thrown in by chance, unprepared, but doesn’t have much of a choice. The author describes these terrifying equine “water horses” as a cross between a velociraptor and the rankest Thoroughbred race horse you can imagine, but somehow manages to make the reader love them. This fantasy is so realistically drawn, I’d think…

From L. R.'s list on to satisfy your horse story cravings.

Puck is the first female to enter her island’s annual “horse” race, a deadly event featuring ferocious and man-eating sea horses. If you can ride the beasts that come ashore to the island every November without being eaten or carried off to be drowned at sea (and then eaten) the monetary prize can make a huge difference in an economically poor area. 75% of Puck’s fight in this book is overcoming objections to entering the race with the last 25% being the race itself. 

Ms. Stiefvater’s writing is incredibly beautiful and as an added bonus I discovered we share our…

If you loved reading about the Chincoteague Island Pony Swim in Marguerite Henry’s Misty of Chincoteague, and you like books set on vaguely Irish/British/Scottish islands, then The Scorpio Races is the book for you. Here’s the twist. The ponies that the islanders race in Stiefvater’s book are carnivorous. Yes, you read that right. Based on the Irish mythological capaill uisce, these unpredictable water horses will either help you win the race, or kill you. Stiefvater does such an incredible job of making Thisby Island feel authentic and true that these terrifying creatures felt real, too. In fact, if…

The Scorpio Races is the story of Puck and Sean, residents of the fictional island of Thisby, where each November is marked by the Scorpio Races – horse races with a twist. On Thisby, the racers ride magical, man-eating water horses, and do so at the risk of their lives. This is not on some other world, it’s on ours, if reality shifted just enough to make way for the terrifying magic that accounts for the existence of the cappaill uisce. I love this book for the lyrical descriptions of the island and for the non-stop suspense that grabs…

From Adina's list on literary fantasies for young adults.

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