The Scorpio Races

This month's theme for the Convent Book Group is Horses. As a child, I read pony books and ballet books with equal fervour, though I actually had ballet lessons and I had only once in my life sat on the back of a horse. I longed for a pony, though I don't know what I would have done with one if I'd managed to get one. It was all theoretical, but I never gave up loving the idea of owning and riding a horse of my own.

But the horses in The Scorpio Races are not tame, dependable companions. The capaill uische are mythical Celtic horses from the sea -- fierce, wild and lethal. They literally eat people. And on the island of Thisby, the locals catch these horses, tame them as much as they can (using magical charms), and once a year, they race them. Sean Kendrick has won the Scorpio Races four times. Puck Connolly needs to save her family home. They both have a lot at stake, but by the end of the races, they will be risking even more.

This is a thrilling adventure, where the only overt magical element is the wild, terrifying horses. It's also a great love story -- I got chills down my spine toward the end. Maggie Stiefvater is just a terrific writer, knotting plot and atmosphere, emotion and action, into a tight and satisfying pattern. 

The only uneasy aspect of this book for me was that I had trouble pinning down exactly when it was supposed to be taking place. There were cars, and radios, but no computers. The characters talk like twenty-first century people; it wasn't until I was about halfway through that it occurred to me to wonder about the time-setting. Unfortunately, the fact that I couldn't place it made the rest of the novel feel a bit slippery. But overall, that's a minor flaw in a very strong YA novel.


  1. Ooh, this sounds amazing and I'm going to hunt it down! In your pony book reading days did you come across Patricia Leitch's 'Night Of The Red Horse' or 'Horse From The Black Loch' which cover similar ground?

  2. I don't know Patricia Leitch at all! I'll have to check those out.

  3. You never met Jinny and Shantih! I'm not sure how they'd strike an adult reading them for the first time, but they were an essential part of my pony mad childhood. 'Dream of Fair Horses' - not a Jinny book actually - is one of her best.

  4. Okay, Patricia Leitch is definitely on my list. I read a lot of Monica Edwards, Ruby Ferguson, Marguerite Henry... Monica Edwards was my favourite, esp The Summer of the Great Secret.

  5. Okay, I've found a Jinny and Shantih book on Brotherhood Books -- it'll be added to my next order!

  6. You may have already come across Jane Badger Books, but if not, google immediately - it's a website all about pony books and is utterly brilliant!