Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Reviewed by Jen

I don’t read very much YA, but I was in the mood for something different and I figured I could not go wrong with a book that has more than 81,000 ratings on Goodreads with an average that’s above four stars. Not to mention, Maggie Stiefvater is one of those authors I have heard people gush about for many years. I liked the blurb. Especially the part about the main male character being a young man of few words who keeps any fears he has buried deep. Still, with all of those things going for it, this book did not exactly rock my world.

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t dislike anything about it. And I am probably not going to change anyone’s stellar perception with my lukewarm response. My biggest issue, I just didn’t feel very much from –or for– these characters. And though the world building was like nothing I have read before, and the writing clearly well done, I just could not get very excited.

This is a dual POV story told through the eyes of Puck and Sean. Puck is a young woman who lost her parents years ago and is scraping by in a small island town with her two brothers. She loves her horse and pulls her weight by contributing some pottery to a local store. But when she learns her older brother is abandoning their small family for the mainland, she realizes that’s not going to be enough. She decides to enter the Scorpio Races and try to win the prize.

The other main character, Sean, grew up with the races in his blood. They took his father’s life. But he has won several times. The only thing he cares about is his horse, though the animal isn’t regular horse and they don’t run in any regular race.

Once a year, water horses come out of the sea onto the island. They are huge and fast and they consume blood in unrestrained violence. The race is attempt to tame them for a time, but it is always a deadly pursuit for some of the participants. When Puck enters the race, not only does she rock the boat being the first female entrant, but she also bucks tradition by riding a regular horse.

Strangely, the most feeling I mustered for anyone was for Puck’s older brother, who I resented and wanted to kick in the ‘nads. There were many times Puck came across as whiny or petulant. Yes, she had every reason to be upset, but the only thing I really felt coming off of her was resentment in a foot stomping kind of way. Sean was so aloof, I didn’t feel anything from him other than the fact he wanted to keep his horse. He had a rivalry going on with his employer’s son, which added another layer to his story. But mostly it was just a lot about the horses.

There is a thin romance thread, but it was very small. Maybe a kiss or two and with very little of the great angst you so often find in young adult relationships. It was very mild. It really read much more as a good friendship that developed with a little kissing.

And the ending, while sufficient, I guess, made me feel like the book sort of just stopped. I imagine I’m supposed to connect the dots as to how it all worked out but the romance reader in me wanted to see these two with some kind of happy ending. It wasn’t an unhappy ending, it was just an ending.

I wish I could have loved it like so many others did, but maybe it would be a bigger hit for you.

Rating: B-

Click to purchase: Amazon

The Scorpio Races
by Maggie Stiefvater
Release Date: October 18, 2011
Publisher: Scholastic Press



  1. I think maybe you would have loved it more on audio. It’s one of my favorites with amazing narrators Steve West and Fiona Hardingham. They gave a lot more emotional weight to Sean and Puck I think. I wouldn’t have minded a bit more at the end either though. Anne – Books of My Heart

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