Review: The Scorpio Races- Maggie Stiefvater

3.5/5 Stars

The Scorpio Races- Maggie Stiefvater

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“Tell me what it’s like. The race.”
What it’s like is a battle. A mess of horses and men and blood. The fastest and strongest of what is left from two weeks of preparation on the sand. It’s the surf in your face, the deadly magic of November on your skin, the Scorpio drums in the place of your heartbeat. It’s speed, if you’re lucky. It’s life and it’s death or it’s both and there’s nothing like it. Once upon a time, this moment-this last light of evening the day before the race-was the best moment of the year for me. The anticipation of the game to come. But that was when all I had to lose was my life.

Plot:
Every November the Scorpio Races start on the island. The danger is imminent as men prepare their horses for the violence of the race. This race is not on your average horse but on the mythical water horse(not to be confused with the Loch Ness monster). These water horses are vicious predators that arise from the sea and go on killing rampages around town. The shredded remains of farm animals and people are left in bloody heaps to be stumbled upon by islanders and tourists alike. Many people on the island have lost parents and children to these magnificently deadly beasts but this does not stop hordes of people from partaking in the Scorpio races. Typically a game for men, when Kate (Puck) Connolly gets it in her head to ride in the races, the men are outraged and will stop at nothing to prevent her from riding. When they find out that she plans on racing her normal horse Dove, the animosity only increases. Sean Kendrick, famous horse whisperer and four time winner of the Scorpio Races, takes a liking to Puck and begins training her. As quickly as things start looking up, Mr.Malvern, owner of most of the island and nearly all of the horses, threatens to evict Puck and her brothers from their home and as an employer of Sean, denies him his freedom and the ability to purchase Corr, his red water horse. Malvern’s son is extremely jealous and malicious, and he is unafraid to butcher innocents to get his way. Puck and Sean have many obstacles in their way but as their mutual attraction blossoms, their fate intermingles. Both need more than ever to win the race but will more sinister forces triumph? Find out as Puck and Sean make their way to the races and hopefully survive to see the end.
PROS:

  • Sean and Puck. Their love for one another is as easy as it is natural. They’re made for one another and complement each other perfectly. The simple way they touch and comfort in their collective silence is wonderfully written. There’s no need for a whirlwind of passion and dramatic declarations, like the island it just is the way it is. Pure, a little dangerous, and full of surprises.
  • These water horses are terrifying. They lurk in the water, pouncing and stalking their prey, wickedly sharp teeth and powerful hooves breaking bones and severing limbs. They’re nothing like the water horse of Loch Ness, they’re more like a Kelpie. If you’ve read The Iron Feythen you already are well versed in the horrifying image of these creatures. If not, they’re magical fey creatures who are horse like and live in the water, they drags people to their deaths by drowning or worse, my torturing them for fun. Stiefvater’s water horses are a merge of Kelpie and the real thing.
  • The preparation for the races and the rituals leading up to it are fascinating. A little Druidy, it created the illusion of a higher entity controlling the fate of the islanders. The way they make blood sacrifices, dress in masks, and make wishes for harm by writing them in ash and casting them into the sea is something so foreign and strange that there is an air of fantasy mixed with reality.

CONS:

  • There were several unnecessary characters and plot points. The whole story was flooded by these fleeting, bland characters. The book could have been much shorter and could have used some editing.
  • Because of those aforementioned characters there were many lags in the story that made the plot seem overly slow and boring despite the content. On Goodreads I saw that a couple people didn’t finish. It’s probably because of this, that some couldn’t get into a story as interesting as murderous water horses.

If you liked any of the following books you might enjoy this:

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-BB

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Review: The Raven Boys- Maggie Stiefvater

3/5 Stars

The Raven Boys(The Raven Cycle, #1)- Maggie Stiefvater

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“Fate,” Blue replied, glowering at her mother, “is a very weighty word to throw around before breakfast.”

She recognized the strange happiness that came from loving something without knowing why you did, that strange happiness that was sometimes so big that it felt like sadness. It was the way she felt when she looked at the stars.

“It’s irrelevant. It’s not growing. I’m doomed to be a man-child.”
“If you keep saying things like ‘man-child,’ we’re done,” Ronan said. “Hey, man. Don’t let it get you down. Once your balls drop, that beard’ll come in great. Like a fucking rug. You eat soup, it’ll filter out the potatoes. Terrier style. Do you have hair on your legs? I’ve never noticed.”

Plot:
Blue Sargent is used to paranormal activity. Living with a family of psychics, strange is the new normal. The only problem is that Blue didn’t inherit psychic powers, instead she is an energy magnifier, boosting otherworldly influences. For as long as she can remember Blue has been weighed down by a powerful premonition that claimed one day Blue’s kiss would kill her true love. From that day on Blue had avoided relationships at all cost and tried to live her life as if nothing was hanging over her head. Like every year on St.Mark’s Day, Blue goes to watch the corpse road but this time fate interceded. Typically Blue can’t see spirits and simply ups their presence so that her mother can communicate with them, however, this time Blue is the only one who can see the dejected boy faltering down the spirit road. Blue knows immediately that her seeing this boy is wrong, that something is starting that is bigger than she is. When Blue asks her mother’s psychic friend why she was able to see the boy she is told that there are only two reasons, that he is her true love or she will be responsible for his death. Blue feels like she owes it to the boy to warn him of his impending death and when he makes an appointment for a psychic reading at her house, she is even more convinced that their meeting is destined. Gansey is one of the Raven Boys and the boy Blue saw on St. Mark’s Day. The Raven Boys are the notoriously snobby “bastards” that shamelessly flirt with girls and flaunt their money as if they own the world. They attend the pre-Ivy Aglionby private school and have too much money, and conceit to know what to do with. Gansey is flocked by his group of Raven Boys, Ronan, an Irish bad boy with far too much anger and sarcasm, Adam, a trailer park kid whose father is abusive and who works three jobs to attend Aglionby, and Noah, a smudgy enigma of a boy with more mystery than truth. Since he was 7 and had a near fatal run in with a swarm of hornets, Gansey has had one goal, to find the sleeping Welsh King who lies hidden on a ley line. As he lay dying, words were whispered into his ear about the Welsh King granting him a wish. Teamed up with Gansey, and the other Raven Boys, Blue embarks on a quest to save Gansey from certain death, to find the Welsh King, and to discover power within herself.

PROS:

  • Ronan is jaded, violent, rude, and an all around ass but is perhaps the most developed, multilayered character in the book. His emotions are complex and buried beneath all the bravado is a hurt little boy just trying to overcome the loss of his father.
  • The character traits are written in such a simple, matter of fact way that they provide clear insight into their foundation, it’s almost poetic.
  • Blue is just the average girl. She is awkward and unsure when it comes to interacting with boys, she is confused about her feelings, but what is admirable about her is that she has such spunk. She speaks her mind and is unafraid to put down the condescending airs of the Raven Boys, she is her own person; she makes her own clothes, adorning them with feathers and lace, and despite all her intentions of standing out, is extremely sensible. Blue is an amalgamation of conflicting emotions, and wavering ideas of herself. She is the quintessential teen girl.
  • The ley lines, how they work, and their connection with spirits, and magic was different in a very pleasant way. Typically fey would be present in connection with they pocketed energy fields, that fact that they weren’t was a welcome surprise.

CONS:

  • Some dialogue like in the quoted section above was overly vulgar and came off as awkward and mildly repulsive.
  • While the idea of the story, rich with Welsh folklore, spirits, and ritual was really an interesting concept it was presented in a way that it almost seemed common place and boring. General suspense and magic were missing when they should have been present in abundance.
  • Some plot points were fragmented and barely pieced together, almost as if they were thrown in randomly like oh hey btw this happened. This left the plot feeling jumbled and a little confused.
  • Most of the minor characters are unlikable and not present. You get fleeting glimpses into their personalities and then they are gone, leaving the impression that they are incomplete.

If you liked any of the following books you’d probably enjoy this:

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-BB