The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

It's been rather quiet around here because a couple of weeks ago I spent a fabulous week at the beach with my family. Over that six day period we enjoyed the most perfect weather -- sunny and warm with a slight breeze. Perfect weather every day except for one. That day it was cloudy with a cold, brisk wind that rushed at us from the waves. Never ones to let a little bit of weather daunt our leisure, we stayed that entire day parked alongside the crashing water. And as I watched the larger-than-normal waves surge again and again onto the beach I was struck suddenly by an irrepressible longing for a certain book. And as these things usually go, it was the one I hadn't thought to bring along. The particular book happened to be The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.
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.
(via Goodreads)
Can you see now why this was the book I was longing for on the windy beach? All day I was certain I would see one of the fierce capall uisce surging up from the waves. Of course, that never happened. But as soon I arrived home, I did pluck my gorgeous copy of The Scorpio Races off the shelf and proceeded to devour the story once again.

No holds barred: this is my new favorite Maggie Stiefvater novel. It's one I can see myself reading over and over again because the story and the writing and the characters (horses included here) and the island itself are just so dang unforgettable. When I read it for the first time back at the beginning of the year, I remember feeling utterly swept away by all the drama and the tense wondering of who was going to die today? and the sloooow tension that was Puck and Sean and their race to find happiness. And now I can attest that The Scorpio Races holds up incredibly well to rereads. Incredibly well. No longer breathlessly curious to discover just how it would all turn out, I was able to pace myself as I watched Sean carve out his measure of happiness and Puck find a new rhythm with her brothers, Dove, and above all, with Sean.

What I perhaps enjoyed most about The Scorpio Races this time around is how sharply atmospheric it is. Part of what makes the island, the people and the races all come alive so distinctly is the fully grounded mythology Ms. Stiefvater creates for the water horses and the lives of those rooted in its traditions. Just the lore of Thisby alone was enough to give me shivers -- a violent island that didn't care one way or another if you lived or died.

Alternating point of view between Sean and Puck also does wonderful things for the story. Scenes and conversations between the two would often switch midpoint with such delightfully crisp results. Beginning as almost perfect strangers bent on winning the race, Sean and Puck eventually move towards uneasy friends and then perhaps to something even more. It's that last bit that Maggie Stiefvater does such a bang-up job with. By the end of the novel Sean and Puck's relationship is never quite defined (although alluded to by some perceptive onlookers) but that doesn't matter one bit as I was left utterly satisfied by the conclusion. There's something about a book that delivers an achingly unforgettable story without having to actually set down every single detail. Okay, okay. There's just something about The Scorpio Races period.

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
Angieville review
Book Harbinger review
Bunbury in the Stacks review
The Book Smugglers review
Chachic's Book Nook review

book source: purchased