|THE SCORPIO RACES by MAGGIE STIEFVATER|
“It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.”
“I am so, so alive.”
The Scorpio Races takes place on the island of Thisby, with people coming every November to participate in a race with fierce water horses down a stretch of sand that sees fewer riders at the end point than it does at the starting line. Sean Kendrick has ridden in the races many times, but the addition of a girl, Puck Connolly, changes everything this year.
The love story in The Scorpio Races is threefold: between the people and the horses (both of the water and the land); between the people; and between the people and horses, and the land and sea. While they ultimately all tie together into a cohesive whole, I feel that separately some are slightly stronger than others. This isn't a traditional love story, though, but rather one through which other themes are shared, so I think that's an important thing to keep in mind as you read.
A LOVE STORY BETWEEN
PEOPLE AND HORSES (OF BOTH THE LAND AND WATER)
“They were swift and deadly, savage and beautiful. The horses were giants, at once the ocean and the island, and that was when I loved them.”
When I was little, one of my cousins who is an avid rider took me to the barn to meet her horse. I got all ready to go for a ride on one of the trails, and right before we were about to leave, she said: "There's nothing to be scared of! He's only afraid if you're afraid." WELL. Here is a picture summary of how that went over:
Obviously everything was fine in the end, but I apparently didn't have an innate connection with horses. The reason I shared that embarrassing tidbit is that the riders in The Scorpio Races, Sean and Puck specifically, are about as far on the other end of the spectrum as you can get when it comes to interacting with these beautiful creatures.
|I don't even know. But aren't you all glad I drew something for you again?! #insertsarcasmhere|
There are two types of horses on Thisby, those of the water and those of the land. Sean rides a water horse, or capaill uisce, named Corr; Puck rides a regular mare named Dove. The relationships between human and animal ultimately drive the story. Sean has a particular understanding of the capaill uisce, beyond what the rest of the population comprehends. While the water horses are more often than not described as monsters, Sean Kendrick opens our eyes to the fact that sometimes it is a fellow man who is more dangerous than a so-called beast. Dove and Corr are members of their riders' families, and Sean and Puck remain steadfastly loyal to them. I would go so far as to say that their animal companions are inextricably linked to their souls, which makes this branch of the story so strong.
“Corr can hold a thousand things in his heart and reveal only one of them on his face, like he did earlier today. He is so very like me.”
|Maggie Stiefvater's"The Horses of Roan". That's more like it.|
A LOVE STORY BETWEEN PEOPLE
“"Why is it that going away is the standard? Does anyone ask you why you stay, Sean Kendrick?" "They do." "And why do you?" "The sky and the sand and the sea and Corr." It's a lovely answer and it takes me entirely by surprise.”
One of the main elements of Puck's story revolves around her and her older brother, Gabe, and younger brother, Finn. Their family is being pulled in different directions, and Puck is desperately trying to hold them together in the tight unit they once were. It's about putting the pieces together to try and solve the puzzle of why sometimes people need to move on and travel to different places, even when it's not an easy decision. Or on the flip side, why others cannot imagine ever leaving a place they call home. I think that Puck starts off on her journey for one reason, but by the end it evolves into something more. Even if she doesn't find the perfect answer or solution, she learns important things about herself and the people she loves along the way. Likewise, I think it becomes clear to Sean where his heart lies and just how much he is willing to do to protect what matters most to him. Stiefvater switches between Sean and Puck's points of view, so the reader has a full experience and gets to understand each character's motivations, hardships and loves.
“I say, "I will not be your weakness, Sean Kendrick." Now he looks at me. He says, "It's late for that, Puck."”
LET'S JUST ALL SWOON FOR A MINUTE. Sean Kendrick is a man of few words, stoic and quietly passionate. Puck Connolly is a perfect foil, fierce and brave in the face of adversity and danger. Puck and Sean's story is the one part of the novel that left me wanting more. Not in a "gaping hole" sort of way, but enough to make me want to comment on it. I feel like Steifvater put most of her energy into developing the two other love stories that I've described, so it meant this one wasn't quite as fleshed out as it perhaps could have been. I still love the moments these two characters share, don't get me wrong, but I wanted more of their relationship's arc. Of course their story culminates near the end of the book, so I wish there had either been more detail during the build up, or a slightly longer denouement. Although I suppose theirs is not necessarily meant to be the main tale told.
|I don't know if he's my Sean, but this made me laugh.|
A LOVE STORY BETWEEN
PEOPLE AND HORSES, AND THE LAND AND SEA
“It's so dark that I can hear the sea better than I can see it. Shhhhh, shhhhhh, it says, like I'm a fretful child and it's my mother, though if the sea were my mother, I'd rather have been an orphan.”
This is probably my favourite love story. The residents of Thisby feel a connection to their land, and realise just how dangerous the ocean is. At the same time, they respect it, and find beauty in its harshness. The capaill uisce come from the sea and are always drawn to it; it holds a commanding power over them. It's this push and pull which defines large parts of the story; the lure of the sea and the places beyond Thisby, versus feeling rooted to the land where generations of their families have lived and grown. It's funny, because despite what the title leads you to believe, the actual races are quite a short part of the story. The bulk of it is getting to know the people and horses and falling in love with the bleak and wonderfully despairing, yet wildly beautiful, setting.
This was the part of the story to which I felt the strongest connection. To love a place so much that it becomes a part of you, and you never want to leave it. And then if you have to go, you feel its pull until you're back there and that wave of belonging washes over you once again. Have you ever experienced that? Feeling like you were made for a place or vice versa and it hurts when you're gone? I certainly don't feel rooted to where I am now, but there are a couple of places on the western coast of North America that feel like home to me and I know one day I'll live there. A big part of this draw is the ocean, which again made me feel like part of the story of The Scorpio Races. Nothing in the world compares to standing by that vast body of water and being at once a part of something huge and also just a tiny piece of the big picture as the water rushes over your feet and the wind tangles your hair. The feeling is indescribable.
“This island is a cunning and secretive thing. I can't say what it has planned for me.”
Series can be wonderful. They leave you looking forward to a next installment and provide more time to fall in love with their characters. But sometimes it's refreshing to have a book that is a standalone, so you have a complete journey in one read that leaves you feeling satisfied. I wasn't looking for another trilogy when I started The Scorpio Races, so it was just the kind of story that I wanted. I also loved that it was mostly real, with an dash of legend thrown in. It took place in our world with relatable characters, and the capaill uisce added that otherworldly element that turned it into something more. The balance was quite nice. Furthermore, Stiefvater does things with words that take my breath away. Rather than using a common phrase, for example, she works her magic and creates sentences and passages that make you pause and re-read. I love her stories for that alone.
That's all I have to say about TSR (finally shutting up!), but I thought I'd end the post with a little something different this time. Book trailers are a strange concept to me; I'm so used to just reading the inside flap of a book jacket for a peek at what a novel is about. But this one, with music and animation by Maggie Stiefvater herself, captures the spirit of the story.
A/N: I've read Stiefvater's Shiver trilogy, and have very different thoughts about each of the three books. Has anybody read them/should they be a potential review post one day? I've only talked to a couple of other people who have read TSR, so if you decide to pick it up, I'd love to chat with you about it!
A & A, HERE'S YOUR POST, OKAY? JK JK I want to hear what you think ASAP.
KJ and MCA, my heart aches to be back in that magical place with both of you.
KJ and MCA, my heart aches to be back in that magical place with both of you.
And for B and Sav, all I could picture while reading this was Ireland. I can't wait to discover its beauty in person next year, and more importantly, to finally hug YOU two beauties. ILY both. xx
I read a book on the weekend that I realised I should have read ages ago. Since I want to stay on track with the selection I've made for next week, but I'm also dying to talk about the one I just finished, I'm going to post about it on THURSDAY this week. I'm thinking now that maybe I'll do a cycle of 2 posts one week, 1 post the next. Thoughts? So until Thursday, happy reading! <3