The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
I didn't manage an indie book for this week. We are gearing up for the holidays and time is hectic. I doubt I will do any official reviewing before the end of the year. I don't only read indie and small press books, and I have some favorite authors who have gone the traditional publishing route with great success. I have hesitated to write about my traditionally published favorites because I feel I have set myself up to do something different. I want to bring attention to writers that nobody else is speaking for, and I do, almost every week with my Gallion Picks.
I am taking the rest of the year off. I will be reading and rereading books that I have already read or that I feel drawn to, without any thought for its publication method. This post is about one of those books. I don't think of this as a review, it's more just something I needed to write, and since reading The Scorpio Races, I've got no other words of my own. I hope writing this will kickstart me. This post is me, paying homage to one of the best writers out there.
I haven't listened to anything in months, and there is one I've wanted to hear for a long time. This week I gave in and bought the audio to Maggie Stiefvater's The Scorpio Races. Maggie Stiefvater is not a small press writer; she publishes with Scholastic Press. She has several books of which I have read The Raven Cycle. She creates unique characters that live somewhere on the edge of normalcy. The Raven Cycle is about dreamers and ancient kings, fast cars, ravens, love, friendship, death, and a quest. Stiefvater has other books about fairies and wolves, none of which I have read. But the Raven Cycle has lived on my phone for several years, and I have listened to it numerous times. As many of you know, I'm not a fan of werewolves and vampires, but I am a fan of horses, hence my interest toward The Scorpio Races. I kept seeing people talking about The Scorpio Races on the author's twitter feed and decided to give it a go. It's a standalone, about eight hours, so I figured I could give up that much time to see about the fuss.
Well, two days out, and my voice is still highjacked. I should have known better. Stiefvater is one of those rare writers that crawl around in the dark crevices of my mind and rules there. I've not written a word since I started The Scorpio Races and I'm not sure when I'll find my own words again. It felt like a calling me home, to some island I never knew. She is masterful in her descriptives; her characters speak in their own words and all of their histories filter through the page like water through the soil.
The capall uisce (COP-ple ISH-ka) are legendary water horses, Steifvater's cappal uisca are conglomerates of many versions of the legend. They are meat-eating creatures that come up from the sea during great storms or at certain times of the year and ravage sheep or cattle on the Isle of Thisby. The Scorpio Races offers so much that draws me, horses, resilient people, magic and superstition and the power of both, harsh landscapes, the sea.
The story follows Puck Connolly and Sean Kendrick in the rise toward the races. Sean is a veteran racer and champion on the island and almost as mythical as the capal uisca. Puck Connolly and her horse, Dove enter the race out of desperation. Dove is a regular horse, not of the sea, and there are many on the island who think she should not be racing in a sea-horse race, not as a woman and not with her natural born horse. Puck is determined, even as she is terrified of the creatures from the sea because she has much to lose. There is a reward at the end of the race and Puck hopes to save her family home with the winnings. Sean is racing for a chance to own the horse he rides and has ridden for years, Corr. Both are desperate, in their way. Thigsby is a close-knit but hard-bitten island, and the inhabitants are hard and practical. Survival is the making of hard choices and taking chances.
If you haven't been introduced to Maggie Stiefvater and her body of work yet, let me be the first.
(This video is created by Maggie Stiefvater - Animated Trailer for the Scorpio Races)
She is incredible.