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.
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.
About the Author
Maggie Stiefvater is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the novels Shiver, Linger, Forever, and Sinner. Her novel The Scorpio Races was named a Michael L. Printz Honor Book by the American Library Association. The first book in The Raven Cycle, The Raven Boys, was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and the second book, The Dream Thieves, was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. She is also an artist and musician. She lives in Virginia with her husband and their two children. You can visit her online at www.maggiestiefvater.com.
Read an Excerpt
NINE YEARS EARLIER
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
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
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
“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
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,
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
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
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
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
I won’t make the same mistake.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Maggie Stiefvater makes horses scary. This is The Black Stallion with fangs, a book that's ready to sink its teeth into your shoulder and drag you kicking and screaming through the pages. Stiefvater's use of imagery leaves readers with a frantic drumbeat in their head and the insistent feeling that one should be checking for sand in their shoes. This book is dubbed a love story and rightly so, but the love readers will find here won't be in stolen kisses and awkward gropes on the beach. Instead, Stiefvater's words stir up a mixture of feelings that will have readers looking at the ocean in a whole new way. This is not a book for cynical adults. For people who look around and hate the world, hate their job, and have too many obligations that a 404 page journey through Thisby is about as impossible as jumping on a plane and trying to find Thisby, put this book back. This is a book for teens and one of the best I've read in 2011.
I liked Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver series but I love this book more. It starts out a little slow and confusing but it had me hooked till the very end. This book was beautifully written and when I finished it I couldn't stop thinking about it and it's haunting tone. There were parts that were very touching and haunting and if you like romance, action, or suspense you will like this book. The characters were so well developed I feel like they are real people and kind of wish they were! I have recommended this book to all of my friends because I simply need to talk about it more!
Loved, loved it....don't have to be a horse person to enjoy this gem of a book.
It stays with you long after you've read it. This is one of those books.
I read this book while I've been traveling and the only thing I wish is that it'd be longer! I miss it so much already! I'm a big fan of Maggie Stiefvater and she never seems to disappoint my high expectation from a book.
I’m just going to start this review by stating a fact that I am pretty darn sure that The Scorpio Races isn’t a dystopian novel. I know that a lot of people who think that The Scorpio Races is a dystopian, mainly because everything about the synopsis makes it sound like The Hunger Games but with horses. So while the novel is far from being a Hunger-Games-wannabe (because lately there have been tons of those and it drives me insane!), it is one thing that will light everybody’s spirit: It’s fantastic. This was one of the most creative, original and best novels I have read so far! Maggie Stiefvater has literally outdone herself this time. After reading Wolves of Mercy Falls I didn’t think that she could get any better, but after finishing this novel *la pulls at hair* everything about it was just perfect! I laughed, I cried and I even felt butterflies (that sort of rhymes), but enough of my praise—because I can most likely go on for hours typing about everything I loved. For those of you who don’t really know what The Scorpio Races is about, it’s about a scraggly island that hosts a horse race every year at the start of November (“It Is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.” I can’t get enough of that). That’s only the start of our story because I know some of you are thinking; It’s just horse racing, how dangerous can that be? Well, I have something to say to you Smarty Pants *waggles finger*, it’s very dangerous when you are racing near the ocean on the backs of Kelpies (though in the novel they were called capall uisce. Since I struggled with pronunciation up until I read the authors note where I learned that it is pronounced as: “CAPple ISHka”.) who want nothing more than to kill you and end up back in the ocean. And don’t forget the part where our main character Puck is the first girl to be in the races and our other main character Sean is the returning champion who just wants to have ownership over his capall uisce, Corr. Throughout the novel I was constantly at a loss for words, not only was I kept guessing, but I was surprised by the traditions of the island people and by the lengths that came with the races itself. Not to mention the fact that my heart would melt at the length that Puck ends up going to to keep her family house and keep her family together in general. There was always the question of who will win the races? As the stakes grew higher. After every single outburst from a capall uisce would have me freaking out and gasping. Those horses are pure evil…and that is why I ended up loving them so much. The cutest part of the novel was the growing relationship between a somewhat guarded Sean Kendrick and a constantly “cross” Puck Connolly. I can assume that everybody knew that the closer the pair grew—there would be a greater effect on the outcome of the races. All in all, a great novel that is definitely worth a read. I would recommend this to somebody in search of the next Twilight and Hunger Games or just wants something that will slowly blow their mind bit by bit. Let the Scorpio races reading begin!
This story left me wishing Thisby could be a real place so I could go there and see the magic of it for my self. It was an amazing story so read it. It was that good.
Scorpio Races is the newest release from acclaimed author Maggie Steifvater, author of the Wolves of Mercy Falls series. The rich detail and passionate characters that Maggie brought to her wolves crosses into this latest release that asks is the question " how far would you go for what you love?" In Thisby the tides are turning and with the coming of November brings in the entry of the capaill uisce, a fearsome type of man eating water horse. The Scorpio Race itself has been a time honored tradition for the men of the island, and with the coming of the capaill uisce begins the beginning of the bloodletting. The savage water horses eat their way through island and rider as they yearn for the sea and the men and boys yearn for the title of winner for the races of the year. With dangerous training and jockeying for places the riders have someone new in their midst, a girl named Puck with a home to save. Scorpio Races brings in amazing characters who are looking for a future with their small island while all feeling the call or the chains of the sea. SR is breathtaking to read, I ate up the pages and could not put it down. It's story enthralled me as a reader. It was just incredible. Growing up is hard enough but our characters have this huge responsibility to save themselves, their home, their family, their way of life. The world building was spectacular, you could almost feel the pull of the sea in it's pages. Maggie S has created a masterpiece of possibilities in the Scorpio Races.
The begining starts out slow but it ends up being a really good book.
Absolutely beautiful, breath taking book. It left me craving for more... Highly recommend this book!!!
I would love to buy a sequal to this book! The ending was alittle weak, but the book was still really good!
This book, quite simply, blew me away. Sean's relationship to the creature who killed his father; his struggle to get free of the ranch owner who owns the waterhorse, Puck's struggle to keep her family together and her resolve to ride a mortal horse and defy tradition, if that's what it takes, to do it, all kept my heart in my throat as I read. Stiefvater slowly winches up the tension until, by the middle of the book, I had a white-knuckled grip on it and had no intention of putting it down. She just gets more amazing with every title.
Beautiful and exciting, plus a little romance. Very good book
I love this story started to slow,but once it started its amazing.
This book was very well written. I found myself completely enthralled by the story - which was truly unique.
Just, beyond words...
Seriously, If you read this book the only regret you will have is that there is no sequel.
I loved thisbook and all the characters ( except for the three sisters and mutt...grr). The writing was amazing and i loved the whole myth about the water horses. I fell inlove with Thisby in general, though i probably would've been one to move to the mainland. I know most ppl wanted it to be just about the races, but i liked reading int puck and sean's lifes together. There are sooo cute together, and i wish there was a sequel to show us what happens with them. The ending was very abrupt, wish i could give it 4.5 stars just for the story! It's a great book, go read it!!
Perhaps being a rider myself I found it easy to relate to the characters in this book. It was beautifully written and while the plot was slow it was lovely and soft. You never feel forced into liking the characters or annoyed at them. It all felt very dreamy and distant, but in a good way. I love the horses and the realistic magic she gives them. In a way it all is nearly believable...Great read for people who enjoy beautiful writing and new ideas.
I was super curious about The Scorpio Races the minute I heard about the book. I didn’t really know what to expect for a book that dealt with horses, but I love Maggie Stiefvater, and I couldn’t wait to get started on this book. It was definitely worth the read! Every year, November marks the beginning of the Scorpio Races. These are no normal races, however. These races consist of water horses that long for their home in the sea, and eat not only other animals, but humans as well. Riding one these beasts to the very end of the race will win you big, but you could also die in the process. Kate Connolly who, is the first girl that has ever entered the race, needs to win to save her family home. Can she do it, is the question. Kate (Puck) was just a really great main character. I love that she was just a girl, plain and simple. Not wanting to give up the only home she’s know, she did what she had to do for herself, her brother and their home. I love that her best friend is her horse, Dove. They have such a special bond together; it was always nice reading about their situations together. I also really enjoyed Puck’s younger brother, Finn. You could really see how much he cared for his sister, and I loved their brother/sister relationship. Sean Kendrick, who should be Kate’s biggest rival, turns out to be a great character as well. I was a little unsure of him at first, he was a bit standoffish and distant, but he definitely won me over by the middle of the book. I love the way he was with the horses, and the way he was such a gentleman, especially when it came to Puck. The storyline for this book was absolutely unique and fascinating. Just imagining the horses that live in the water, and how evil they were. It definitely kept the mystery in the book. I enjoyed the pacing of the book as well. Once I had time to actually sit down and read uninterrupted, I flew through the pages. The ending of the book is very satisfying, I thought it ended perfectly. The romance in the book is at a minimum, but I think that makes it stand out even more. Overall, I enjoyed this book a lot more than I expected to! With such a great storyline, and awesome characters, who wouldn’t love it? It’s definitely a must read. Happy Reading!
Omg i red this nook like eight times in a row and am reading it again. I fell in love with this book immediatly. It had action, romance, comedy, parts that make you cry, everything! I love sean and corr as well as puck and dove. Both pairs are so awesome you cant help but love them both! Anyone whos given this book less than five stars is out of their mind, this book deserves nothing but five stars because of how amazing the actual story was, all the hard work people put into this book, the to die for characters, the unbelievable seting, and so much more! God bless maggie and keep her writing! I luv u maggie <3!
I LOVED this book and I'm so sad it's only a single book! I would love for Sean and Puck's story to continue. Maggie Stiefvater has written a beautifully mastered legend about the Capaill Uisce or water horses. I am terrified of horses but also incredibly intrigued by them now. The ending is wonderful and I love the friendship between Sean and Corr, I've never read anything like their friendship, especially with an animal it is incredible. I was moved deeply by this book with everything that went on. I learned that no matter what people tell you, you have to do what you have to do. I admire Puck's character, she is so strong and courageous though she may not see it. Sean is dark and mysterious and still. His character was fun to figure out. Praises to The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater! Recommended!
Scorpio Races is a heart-wrenching and beautiful story of a boy and his horse and a girl and her family. Sean Kendrick is a character who demands respect and is given a wide bearth at all costs. Puck is a hotheaded teen who will do anything to save her family. Even if it means going against every fiber in her being. When these two meet it is an unforgettable clash of unsorted feelings and a sense of being scared out of their witts. I loved every word of this book and can not wait to read another book by this author!
this book was awesome. it was super creative and i appreciated the love that grew between Puck and Sean and how it wasn't just insta-love. i do love instant love between characters, but this one was different and i liked it. this book was beautifully written with clear and defined skill. Stiefvater is an amazing writer and i secretly wish that this book had a sequel or something because i loved the characters! i really liked how close-knit Puck was with her two brothers, Gabe and Finn. i also really liked how it wasn't a simple little town, but it was a simple little island which really made it feel so much more secluded from the rest of the world. i also love Puck's name! Puck! for a girl, fantastic! i do admit, some parts were slow, but i got through them knowing that the book would pick up again. i loved this book and really recommend it to anyone that's looking for something different. it's truly original. i give high praise to the author.