The Scorpio Races

The Scorpio Races

4.5 429
by Maggie Stiefvater

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From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Shiver and Linger comes a brand new, heartstopping novel. Some race to win. Others race to survive. 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,…  See more details below


From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Shiver and Linger comes a brand new, heartstopping novel. Some race to win. Others race to survive. 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 choice. So she enters the competition - the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen. As she did in her bestselling Shiver trilogy, author Maggie Stiefvater takes us to the breaking point, where both love and life meet their greatest obstacles, and only the strong of heart can survive. The Scorpio Races is an unforgettable reading experience.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—On the sea-battered and wind-swept isle of Thisby, fall brings the famed and feared capaill uisce, or water horses, and with them, death. These animals are bigger and faster than their terrestrial cousins, and they are carnivorous and predatory. Many islanders have lost family members to the beasts, including narrators Sean Kendrick and Kate Connely. For them, and others, the annual Scorpio Races are both a celebration and a grotesque spectacle. Island men test their mettle and risk their lives racing the water horses, capping a weeks-long festival. Sean, the island's foremost horse expert, races Corr to win the money to finally buy the horse from his boss, Benjamin Malvern. Kate, aka Puck, races her land horse to save her family home from foreclosure by the same man. Both cannot win, and it is doubtful that both will survive. While there is plenty of action, conflict, excitement, and a heart-stopping climax, it is the slowly developing relationship between Kate and Sean that makes the book remarkable. Though different, they are both products of the island and have an intense love for Thisby that is not shared by all of the residents. Stiefvater makes readers care deeply for them, their desolate island, and even the monstrous water horses. The author takes great liberties with the Celtic myth, but the result is marvelous.—Anthony C. Doyle, Livingston High School, CA
Jennifer Hubert Swan
If The Scorpio Races sounds like nothing you've ever read, that's because it is. The capaill uisce are exhilarating, frightening creations, far more fascinating in their quivering, carnivorous rage than lovelorn vampires or angsty fallen angels, the current paranormal darlings of Y.A. literature. Stiefvater has successfully plumbed lesser-known myths and written a complex literary thriller that pumps new blood into a genre suffering from post-Twilight burnout.
—The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly
In her closing notes, Stiefvater (the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy) calls this a book “about killer horses”—terrifying faerie creatures that eat meat and seek to drown humans—and, in virtually the same breath, says that it “isn’t really about water horses.” She’s right on both counts. On the island of Thisby, the Scorpio Races are held every November, when the driven or the crazy ride the beaches on the backs of these mounts. Sean Kendrick does it for love, winning year after year on the stallion Corr; Puck Connolly, pitting her ordinary horse against the killers, does it out of desperation, to win money to keep her home and to earn respect from her older brother, who threatens to desert the family. Stiefvater’s narration is as much about atmospherics as it is about event, and the water horses are the environment in which Sean and Puck move, allies and rivals to the end. It’s not a feel-good story—dread, loss, and hard choices are the islanders’ lot. As a study of courage and loyalty tested, however, it is an utterly compelling read. Ages 13–up. (Oct.)¦
From the Publisher

Praise for The Scorpio Races:
* “Masterful. Like nothing else out there now.” – Kirkus Reviews, starred review
* “Stiefvater’s novel begins rivetingly and gets better and better…all the way, in fact, to best.” – The Horn Book, starred review
* “A book appealing to lovers of fantasy, horse stories, romance, and action-adventure alike, this seems to have a shot at being a YA blockbuster.” – Booklist, starred review
* “An utterly compelling read.” – Publishers Weekly, starred review

Praise for Shiver:

#1 New York Times Bestseller

USA Today Bestseller

* “A lyrical tale of alienated werewolves and first love….Stiefvater skillfully increases the tension throughout; her take on werewolves is interesting and original while her characters are refreshingly willing to use their brains to deal with the challenges they face.” – Publishers Weekly, starred review

“This is the most romantic werewolf book you will ever read.” – Justine magazine

“This novel is perfect for Twilight fans or a Romeo and Juliet list. It is sensuous, intense, riveting, and so very satisfying.” – VOYA

“Readers will be able to enjoy Stiefvater's fast-paced storytelling and dedication to the old-fashioned art of creating a believable and enduring romance. Shiver is beautifully written, even poetic at times, and a perfect indulgence for readers of all ages.” –

Praise for Linger:

#1 New York Times Bestseller

USA Today Bestseller

“This sequel's poetic prose skillfully captures the four teens' longings for love, forgetting, remembering, righting wrongs and life itself. The riveting ending will leave readers panting for the next sequel.” – Kirkus Reviews

“This riveting narrative, impossible to put down, is not only an excellent addition to the current fangs and fur craze, but is also a beautifully written romance that, along with Shiver, will have teens clamoring for the third and final entry.” – VOYA

“Leaves readers hanging in anticipation for the next installment.” - Booklist

* “[A] taut, chilling, romantic adventure....Masterful. Like nothing else out there now.” – Kirkus Reviews, starred review

* “Stiefvater masterfully combines an intimate voice (think I Capture the Castle) with a fully evoked island setting with sensory-rich language (think Margo Lanagan) with a wealth of horse detail with a plot full of danger, intrigue, and romance. ... Stiefvater sets not one foot wrong as she takes readers on an intoxicating ride of their own. ... Stiefvater’s novel begins rivetingly and gets better and better…all the way, in fact, to best.” – The Horn Book, starred review

* “A book appealing to lovers of fantasy, horse stories, romance, and action-adventure alike, this seems to have a shot at being a YA blockbuster.” – Booklist, starred review

* “An utterly compelling read.” – Publishers Weekly, starred review

"[A] thrilling book that’s as unusual as it is alluring." — The Los Angeles Times

* "While there is plenty of action, conflict, excitement, and a heart-stopping climax, it is the slowly developing relationship between Kate and Sean that makes the book remarkable." — School Library Journal, starred review

"In her most addictive story yet, Stiefvater revives the strong, silent type in sexy, brooding monster tamer Sean Kendrick. His co-narrator, Puck, is heartbreakingly adorable as a stubborn little sister growing into a brave, self-assured woman. Stiefvater is a master of magical realism, and her prose leaves the reader cold, damp and anxious as November closes in on the isolated island setting." — RT Book Reviews Magazine

VOYA - Blake Norby
Sean Kendrick and Kate "Puck" Connolly have both been orphaned by the capaill uisce—the water horses that are born from the sea every fall in the small island town of Thisby. Their stories are not uncommon on the island as many families have lost loved ones to the hungry and feral creatures and to the Scorpio Races the horses are used for every November. Sean is a four time champion of the races and has more than just his love for the horses riding on this year's race; his freedom is on the line. Puck is the first girl to sign up for the race, and she must win to save her family. Only one can win the race and many are lucky to even survive, but Puck and Sean learn to lean on each other to survive the deadliest season on the island they both love. Fans of Stiefvater's Shiver (Scholastic, 2009/VOYA December 2009) will fall under her descriptive trance once again in The Scorpio Races as she draws the reader into Sean and Puck's captivating world of capaill uisce. The elegant imagery of the town and subtle romance between the two main characters make up for the slight holes in the story, such as Puck's weak motivation for involving herself in the race. Readers may need a little push to get past what initially sounds like a juvenile concept, but will quickly become entranced in this beautifully told coming-of-age story. Reviewer: Blake Norby
Children's Literature - Loretta Caravette
Puck is the first girl to run in the annual horse race, but this is no ordinary race and these are no ordinary horses. Set on an island, the story is based loosely on an Irish myth about wild horses that live in the sea. This riveting and suspenseful story expertly weaves myth with reality. The story is told alternately from two points-of-view, those of Puck and Sean Kendrick. Once a year the islanders race the water horses, or capaill uisce as they are called. The capaill uisce run unlike any land horse and are very strong. They are hard to tame and will kill man or animal if given the chance. Puck and her two brothers lost their parents when they were pulled into the ocean by a water horse and never seen again. There is big prize money for the winner of the race. Puck must win—their home is on the line. The islanders are superstitious and don't want a girl to ride. No one will support Puck except Sean Kendrick. Sean works for Benjamin Malvern's ranch. He breaks in land horses and knows how to communicate with the capaill uisce. He trains and races a red water horse, Corr. They won the last four races together. Puck decides to ride her land horse named Dove. Despite the danger as water horses prey on land horses, Puck, on Dove, and Sean, on Corr, train together. Just before the race, Sean and Mr. Malvern make a deal. If Sean wins he will be able to buy Corr. If he loses he must never ask for Corr again. Corr is as close to Sean as family. Sean must win to get Corr but Puck must win to save her home. Suspenseful, compelling, wonderful visual descriptions with strong characters make this book hard to put down. Reviewer: Loretta Caravette
Kirkus Reviews

The bestselling author ofShiver(2009) andLinger(2010) turns the legend of the water horse into a taut, chilling, romantic adventure.

Each October on the island of Thisby, thecapaill uisce, or water horses, emerge from the sea. Predatory meat-eaters, they endanger the islanders—but they are also fast, far faster than land horses, and if captured and very carefully handled, with iron and magic, they can be trained. Every first of November, the water horses are raced on the beach of Thisby; winning the Scorpio Races brings fame and fortune, but losing often bringsdeath. Nineteen-year-old Sean Kendrick runs for the right to buy the water-horse stallion Corr; 16-year-old Katherine, called Puck, pits her land mare against the water horses in an attempt to save her home. Gradually, the two of them, both orphaned bycapaill uisceand fighting for the most important object in their lives, become confederates. First-person narration alternates seamlessly between Sean and Puck. The large cast of supporting characters springs to life, particularly Puck's brothers, Finn and Gabe, and Thisby feels like a place you can see and smell. The water horses are breathtakingly well-imagined, glorious anduntamably violent. The final race, with Sean and Puck each protecting each other but both determined to win, comes to a pitch-perfect conclusion.

Masterful. Like nothing else out there now.(Fantasy. 13-18)

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Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
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Read an Excerpt

It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.
Even under the brightest sun, the frigid autumn sea is all
the colors of the night: dark blue and black and brown. I watch
the ever–changing patterns in the sand as it’s pummeled by
countless hooves.
They run the horses on the beach, a pale road between the
black water and the chalk cliffs. It is never safe, but it’s never so
dangerous as today, race day.
This time of year, I live and breathe the beach. My cheeks
feel raw with the wind throwing sand against them. My thighs
sting from the friction of the saddle. My arms ache from holding
up two thousand pounds of horse. I have forgotten what it
is like to be warm and what a full night’s sleep feels like and
what my name sounds like spoken instead of shouted across
yards of sand.
I am so, so alive.
As I head down to the cliffs with my father, one of the race
officials stops me. He says, “Sean Kendrick, you are ten years
old. You haven’t discovered it yet, but there are more interesting
ways to die than on this beach.”

My father doubles back and takes the official’s upper arm
as if the man were a restless horse. They share a brief exchange
about age restrictions during the race. My father wins.
“If your son is killed,” the official says, “the only fault is
My father doesn’t even answer him, just leads his uisce stallion
On the way down to the water, we’re jostled and pushed by
men and by horses. I slide beneath one horse as it rears up, its
rider jerked at the end of the lead. Unharmed, I find myself facing
the sea, surrounded on all sides by the capaill uisce — the
water horses. They are every color of the pebbles on the beach:
black, red, golden, white, ivory, gray, blue. Men hang the bridles
with red tassels and daisies to lessen the danger of the dark
November sea, but I wouldn’t trust a handful of petals to save
my life. Last year a water horse trailing flowers and bells tore a
man’s arm half from his body.
These are not ordinary horses. Drape them with charms,
hide them from the sea, but today, on the beach: Do not turn
your back.
Some of the horses have lathered. Froth drips down their
lips and chests, looking like sea foam, hiding the teeth that will
tear into men later.
They are beautiful and deadly, loving us and hating us.
My father sends me off to get his saddlecloth and armband
from another set of officials. The color of the cloth is meant to
allow the spectators far up on the cliffs to identify my father, but
in his case, they won’t need it, not with his stallion’s brilliant
red coat.
“Ah, Kendrick,” the officials say, which is both my father’s
name and mine. “It’ll be a red cloth for him.”

As I return to my father, I am hailed by a rider: “Ho, Sean
Kendrick.” He’s diminutive and wiry, his face carved out of
rock. “Fine day for it.” I am honored to be greeted like an
adult. Like I belong here. We nod to each other before he turns
back to his horse to finish saddling up. His small racing saddle
is hand-tooled, and as he lifts the flap to give the girth a
final tug, I see words burned into the leather: Our dead drink
the sea.

My heart is jerking in my chest as I hand the cloth to my
father. He seems unsettled as well, and I wish I was riding,
not him.
Myself I am sure of.
The red uisce stallion is restless and snorting, ears pricked,
eager. He is very hot today. He will be fast. Fast and difficult
to hold.
My father gives me the reins so that he can saddle the water
horse with the red cloth. I lick my teeth — they taste like
salt — and watch my father tie the matching armband around
his upper arm. Every year I have watched him, and every year
he has tied it with a steady hand, but not this year. His fingers
are clumsy, and I know he is afraid of the red stallion.
I have ridden him, this capall. On his back, the wind beating
me, the ground jarring me, the sea spraying our legs, we
never tire.
I lean close to the stallion’s ear and trace a counterclockwise
circle above his eye as I whisper into his soft ear.
“Sean!” my father snaps, and the capall’s head jerks up
quickly enough that his skull nearly strikes mine. “What are
you doing with your face next to his today? Does he not look
hungry to you? Do you think you’d look fine with half
a face?”

But I just look at the stallion’s square pupil, and he looks
back, his head turned slightly away from me. I hope he’s remembering
what I told him: Do not eat my father.
My father makes a noise in his throat and says, “I think
you should go up now. Come here and —“ He slaps my shoulder
before mounting up.
He is small and dark on the back of the red stallion. Already,
his hands work ceaselessly on the reins to keep the horse in
place. The motion twists the bit in the horse’s mouth; I watch
his head rocking to and fro. It’s not how I would have done it,
but I’m not up there.
I want to tell my father to mind how the stallion spooks to
the right, how I think he sees better out of his left eye, but
instead I say, “See you when it’s over.” We nod to each other like
strangers, the good–bye unpracticed and uncomfortable.
I am watching the race from the cliffs when a gray uisce
horse seizes my father by his arm and then his chest.
For one moment, the waves do not attack the shore and the
gulls above us do not flap and the gritty air in my lungs doesn’t
Then the gray water horse tears my father from his uneasy
place on the back of the red stallion.
The gray cannot keep its ragged grip on my father’s chest,
and so my father falls to the sand, already ruined before the
hooves get to him. He was in second place, so it takes a long
minute before the rest of the horses have passed over the top of
his body and I can see it again. By then, he is a long,
smear half-submerged in the frothy tide. The red stallion
circles, halfway to a hungry creature of the sea, but he does as I
asked: He does not eat the thing that was my father. Instead,
the stallion climbs back into the water. Nothing is as red as the
sea that day.
I don’t think often on my father’s body strung out through
the reddening surf. Instead, I remember him as he was before the
race: afraid.
I won’t make the same mistake.

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Meet the Author

Maggie Stiefvater is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the novels Shiver, Linger, Forever, and The Scorpio Races. She is also the author of Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception and Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie. She lives in Virginia with her husband and their two children. You can visit her online at

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