Home / Books / Book Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Book Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Beautifully written and deeply moving, The Scorpio Races is not your typical YA read.

Book Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

GoodReads | Amazon | Author Website

the scorpio races by maggie stiefvater

Title & Author: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Genre: YA – Fantasy

Release Date: October 18, 2011

Series: Standalone book

Publisher: Scholastic Press

How I Got the Book: Bought


“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.”

In This Case, Life is a Race not a Journey

The Scorpio Races really surprised me. Having read Shiver by Stiefvater, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this stand-alone novel. What I got was better than I expected – a winding journey about family, dreams and racing.

At the beginning of the book, readers might think, wow – so this book is all about this crazy Scorpio Race where people ride these deadly, demon-ish horses from the sea that are really more monster than animal? But, dear readers, you’d be wrong (and would definitely figure this out by continuing to read).

The races are essential to the island of Thisby and to the people who live there, but they serve as a backdrop for the real story: the relationships between the characters.

Puck’s relationship with her brothers and with Sean and his relationship with his water horse Corr and his demanding boss, Malvern, and TONS of others all dominate the pages of the story and add a real depth to a seemingly simple story about a horse race.

As far as the writing and the storytelling go – Stiefvater is a master. The prose is breath-taking – both lyrical and funny. I wasn’t expecting this book to be as funny as it was, actually.

One word of warning – if you need a high-energy, action-packed narrative to really draw you into a book, The Scorpio Races may pose a bit of a challenge for you.That being said, the pacing works within the story. The characters and the setting dictate the steady but sure action of the novel – a fast-paced reading frenzy wouldn’t have worked well here.

Plus, a lot of the “action” of the book was emotional – like Puck coping with her oldest brother leaving the island and Sean fighting to earn Corr for his own.

A Great Ending

Sometimes, I think the ending of a book can make or break it for me. It’s sort of like the final exam of the semester – yes, you may have studied hard for 8 weeks, but the final test worth 40 percent of your grade is what it all comes down to.

The Scorpio Races didn’t disappoint – the ending was raw and beautiful and non-predictable. I mean, someone has to win the race, right? But it ends in a way that doesn’t tie the story up with a nice, neat bow. There are loose ends, but in the best way possible. Also, if you’re an easy crier, having a box of tissues next to you may be a good idea.

Award for best supporting characters goes to George Holly (a wise, non-annoying tourist) and the island itself. With its unpredictable weather, local crazies, and hard-working, toughened inhabitants, Thisby earns rock-solid devotion from the people who live there. It’s very alive and easily visualized too.


This book is highly recommended and is worth taking some time to read. The beautifully written descriptions, the mystical water horses and the spunky characters will engage you throughout this long novel. Give yourself some time to sink into The Scorpio Races – you’ll be happy you did.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.