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Friday 9 September 2011

The Scopio Races by Maggie Stiefvater [Review]

Written by: Maggie Stiefvater.
Published by: Scholastic.
Format: Paperback.
Released: 18th October 2011.
Rating: 2.5/5.

Official synopsis: "A stunning new novel from the bestselling author of SHIVER, LINGER AND FOREVER. Stay alive, stay astride, stay out of the water... Every November, the Scorpio Races are run beneath the chalk cliffs of Skarmouth. Thousands gather to watch the horses and the sea that washes the blood from the sand. The mounts are capaill uisce: savage water horses. There are no horses more beautiful, more fearless, more deadly. To race them can be suicide but th danger is irresistible. Sean Kendrick knows the dangers of the capaill uisce. With one foot in the ocean and one on land, he is the only man on th island capable of taming the beasts. He races to prove somethin both to himself and to the horses. Puck Connolly enters the racs to save her family. But the horse she rides is an ordinary little mare, just as Puck is an ordinary girl. When Sean sees Puck on the beach he doesn't think she belongs. He doesn't realize hisate will become entwined in hers. ..."

I've always said that I pride myself on my honest reviews and in writing this review, I've never had to live by that mantra so literally. This will probably be the most honest review I have ever written. It isn't meant to sound scathing and if it does, then I apologise.

I am a big Maggie fan. I love her Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy and think that Forever is one of the best books I've read this year. I was so excited to hear that she was publishing a second book this year. A stand alone by the name of The Scorpio Races. Then I heard the premise and read the synopsis which you can see above. Ooh. It had me hooked. I wanted to read more. I got so excited and when I heard that proof copies were being rolled out amongst the blogging/reviewing community I did a little squee dance and practically sat by the letter box until I received mine. I quickly began to read the book, and soon my heart sank.

Maggie's usually lyrical writing just isn't there. It's clunky, clumsy even and some bits are down right confusing. At points I had to read certain parts again and again. At some points the reading experience was annoying even. This coupled with the fact that I really do love Maggie's other work made me very sad as a reader. I just could not connect with the book nor it's characters. The characters don't seem to have any flesh to them and just seem to be there for the sake of it. They don't really have any purpose. And something that did annoy me was that one of the main characters, Sean, was called by his full name throughout the entire book. By everyone. Sean Kendrick. Sean Kendrick. Sean Kendrick. It alone felt very clunky and just made no sense. If these people know him, why call him by his full name every time they see him? To me, it just didn't make sense.

Several times I found myself to be quite bored and not wanting to read on, and at one point when I was about... a third... maybe nearly half way through the book, I put it down and re-read a book that I'd read earlier in the year and absolutely loved - I needed something to take my mind off it for a while. Perhaps after a break it would be better...

The overall premise of horses that leap from the sea to tear humans from limb to limb, and the race along the treacherous waters of the ocean in November, the month that the horses are most ravenous for human flesh is brilliant. It alone is the reason that I continued to read on. I wanted to see how it ended.

Now the point of this review is not to stop people from reading the book. That's not the point and that's not why I blog. I just wanted to be perfectly honest. While I very much disliked the book, I know there will be people out there who will love this book. And so they should. There is something there. It just didn't work for me. I felt that it would be wrong of me to sit here and praise a book that I didn't like. 

My thanks to the lovely Alexandra at Scholastic for my copy. 


  1. Thanks for the honesty - it's a shame that you didn't get on very well with this book. I absolutely adored it. I love the atmosphere of the island, the characters and especially the loyalty and strong connection between both main characters and their horses.

  2. I always appreciate honest reviews. It's a shame when you have high hopes for a book, and then it just doesn't measure up.