Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

The Scorpio Races

HORSES! 🐎 I’m such a fangirl for horses, but would you believe that the first time I met a horse and tried to feed it, I was terrified? Like, what if it decided to eat my hand?? Anyway, I read a lot of horse books as a kid, and have always lamented the fact that there aren’t as many young adult or adult fiction books about horses. In comes The Scorpio Races with horses AND magic! It’s a fantastic tale based on mythological water horses, with a little bit of violence, romance, and horse-rider bonding. (When I say a little bit, I mean a LOT bit.)


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.


Wonderful premise with a mix of magical realism, mythology, and reality. In Stiefvater’s author’s note in the book, she mentions that there were a lot of different variations of the water horse myth, which must’ve been hard to work with. I think the basis of the Scorpio Races – how every November, the capall uisce come out of the water and can be tamed but are still drawn to the sea, how tourists would flood to the island of Thisby to watch the races – makes the myth less of a myth and more of reality. No one questions why these flesh-eating horses appear, and the fact that they’re super fast seems to make up for everything else. I love this kind of magic realism, because it makes the magic more tangible.

“The Scorpio sea has thrown capaill uisce onto our shore since long before my father or my father’s father was born.”

Quiet, thoughtful protagonists with the world against them. In the Stiefvater books I’ve read so far (basically The Wolves of Mercy Falls series and this), I find her protagonists to be the brooding sort, and the sort to think before they speak. They probably also think before they think too, seeing as how everything they think is brilliant and impactful and so resonating. (I’d actually generalize it to Stiefvater’s writing over all – concise, intense, quiet, dark.) We hear the story from Sean and Puck’s alternating narratives, and it’s fascinating how similar they are despite their vastly different levels of experience with the Scorpio Races (and thus being treated differently by the townspeople). The relationship between Sean and Puck is also a little muted, and more in the background than anything else, but it still progresses nicely. There’s more emphasis on the horses and the capall uisce, as well as the individual problems that Sean and Puck had, and that was what I was most interest in.

Horse-lovers, not sure if you’ll like these horses? There are so many wonderful moments of horses with their riders and their connection with each other. But there’s also the fact that these aren’t horses at heart – they’re still water and salt and monsters. So there are normal horsey things, but also unnatural horsey things, and I would’ve liked for more normal horsey things (but probably not from a story like this). This is a story that’s not solely centered around one horse and one rider; it has multiple stories and characters, and I think that makes it a satisfying story despite not really fulfilling my horsey expectations. (Well, there’s one part of the story that was incredibly horsey-satisfying though! But I won’t tell you where. :P)

… but I still can’t ignore that the capaill uisce don’t even smell like proper horses as I get closer to them. Dove smells soft, all hay and grass and molasses. The capaill uisce smell like salt and meat and waste and fish.


The Scorpio Races is typical Maggie Stiefvater awesomeness, with a ton of angst and horses and OMG HOW DID I FORGET TO TALK ABOUT THE NOVEMBER CAKES???! I’m such a fail, but here’s some food amazingness at Fiction-Food Cafe with some mouthwatering pictures of November cakes…

Finn finds my left hand, opens my fingers, and puts a November cake in my palm. It oozes honey and butter, rivulets of the creamy frosting joining the honey in the pit of my hand. It begs to be licked.

Have you read The Scorpio Races?
Have you tried making November cakes?
What’s your favorite food found in fiction books?

(Sorry the questions are so food-focused since I’m hungry right now!)


3 thoughts on “Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

  1. I loved this book so much! I thought the connection between the riders and their horses and the slow-burn romance were both fantastic. I actually had to wait in my car before heading into work because finishing the audiobook made me weepy!

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