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16 April 2012

I don't know if I've said it before, so I'll do it now: fantasy and/or dystopian novels are *that* much better on audio. With the right narrators, the tension is fantastic, and this story is no different. The adaptation of Irish mythology into this YA book was absolutely fantastic. Me hit the "stop" button? Nah, I don't think so. The Scorpio Races was one of those audio books I would made excuses to run errands so I could be in the car. I needed to know what happened next!

The remote (fictional) island of Thisby, off the coast of Ireland, has an annual event unlike any other. Each year in November, the elusive and dangerous water-horses, known as the capaill uisce (pronounced capell-ishka), are ridden in fierce horse races sometimes resulting in death, either for the rider or for the horse. There is a magic to these incredible beasts, who easily hypnotize a rider before bringing them back to their beloved sea and drowning them. Capaill uisce are flesh-eating horses: they will fight, attack, bite, and devour a human, but to many it can be worth the risk since the winner of The Scorpio Races collects an extraordinary amount of money.

Told from two perspectives, Puck (Kate) Connolly and Sean Kendrick are riding the races this year. It's the first for Puck, but Sean, a four-time winner of the races, has a bigger win on his hands. Nineteen-years-old with no family or friends, Sean Kendrick is the water horse expert, and can easily calm a beast down with his quiet and calm manner. His veteran winning status, combined with a mysterious and brooding personality, assures him to be the likely winner, but the win for him is even greater this year. His one love is the water horse he'll ride again, Corr. Majestic, tough, and most definitely still wild, Corr is only calmed by Sean Kendrick and their bond is easily felt throughout the story. Corr is owned by Sean's boss, Benjamin Malvern,  and Benjamin's son, Mutt, maintains a deep jealousy that eventually corrupts everything around him.

Not only has Puck decided to not ride a water horse, but instead ride her own personal horse, she is also the first female to ever ride the races. She consistently presents the island residents with more reasons to attempt to bar her in any way they can, but a win for her could save her home for both her older brother Gabe, who has decided to fend for himself and move to the mainland, and younger brother, Finn. Losing their parents to a capaill uisce has made the races even more frightening but this is Puck's chance to keep her remaining family together.

Both stories for Puck and Sean are so compelling and the ending tugged at my heartstrings considerably. I ask myself, why have I not read/listened to any other Maggie Stiefvater story before? That'll have to change, and quickly.

This is an exceptionally well-told tale of despair, hope, adventure, and first love. Sean Kendrick was sexy and brooding, and Puck was petulant and feisty. At odds initially, Puck's horse causes chaos on the beach and it's up to Sean to calm all the beasts down, but it initially sets the stage of yet another obstacle to overcome for both Puck and Sean to become friends and ultimately much more. The setting of this tiny Irish island was brilliantly described, and in audio form, it was beautifully magical. It wasn't difficult to smell, feel, and breathe the sea air. Thinking back on the story now, I honestly cannot imagine reading the printed word since the setting and narrators were so mesmerizing. I fell in love with Sean Kendrick and found myself conflicted with whom to root for. My only complaint was I expected much more to be shared in the evolution of Puck's actual training, but it ended up being a bit quiet on that subject. Let's be honest, though. That's a minor quibble compared to the meat of this story, which was thoroughly fantastic.

An entrancing tale of adventure, family, hope, and love, Maggie Stiefvater creates magic once again in The Scorpio Races. This was my first Maggie Stiefvater story, and I'm pretty sure I'll be selecting more of her works, especially in audio.

Audio Notes: As a fairly new listener of audio books, I couldn't have been happier with both of the narrators cast to voice Sean Kendrick and Puck Connolly. They were equally masterful in the emotions, the characters, and each event that transcended standard tension and crafted an experience that was extremely absorbing. Click here to listen to the sample on Audible.com (click the "play" button below the cover). You may need to have an Audible.com membership, so check it out on iTunes. On her blog, Maggie Stiefvater has an incredible interview with both of the narrators and includes pictures of the cast (Steve West as Sean Kendrick!!), so click here to read.

Additionally, Maggie Stiefvater plays the instruments throughout the audio which was wonderful, and her Afterword was a delight to listen to, particularly as she trails off with laughter in the end...

Others said:

Publisher: Scholastic Audio
Release Date: 10/18/2011
Audio Time: 12 hours, 6 minutes
Narrators: Steve West, Fiona Hardingham

About the Author
Maggie Stiefvater is the best selling author of The Shiver Trilogy and The Scorpio Races, among others. She is an award-winning color pencil artist, and also plays the Celtic harp, the piano, and the bagpipes. She lived in Virginia with her husband, two children, two dogs, and a cat.

Follow the author:


This is another selection for the 2012 Audio Book Challenge hosted by Teresa and also a selection for Carl's 2012 Once Upon a Time Challenge. Reviews from Once Upon a Time Challenge participants can be found here.



FTC Disclosure: I purchased this audio book on Audible.com

22 comments:

  1. I've heard this is excellent. It's not my usual genre but I want to give it a try.

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    1. I was surprised I would enjoy this one; after all, a flesh-eating horse sounds a little ick to me, but man! I was pulled in immediately and fell into lock-step with it all. The story was incredible and the narrators were the icing on the cake.

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  2. Sounds fantastic. I really need this one. Great review.

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  3. Never heard of this author, but I agree that a well-done audio book can take a story to new levels of interest and understanding.

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    1. This is my first time reading/listening to the author and I know other bloggers loved her Shiver Trilogy quite a bit. I'm still hoping to read that one and it looks like she has a new one coming out soon that is the start of a different series called The Raven Boys. I'll be looking for that one!

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  4. Rhapsody Jill RAVED about this book. I'd heard that this author's trilogy on audio was not so good (the narrator really bothered some people) so I didn't even think to see if my library had this one. Which is stupid because it is not the same narrator! I'm convinced. I'm going to see if they carry it.

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    1. I loved Jill's review! I've been debating on getting the Shiver Trilogy on audio or printed, and I'm not sure which one to go with. The Audible.com reviewers seemed to enjoy it, but I think I actually have Shiver already on my shelves so I might need to read it first!

      The Scorpio Races have absolutely fantastic narrators! I am definitely putting them on my "must listen to them more" list.

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    2. I just found that Steve West did one of the Jo Nesbø books! Score!

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  5. I absolutely loved this one too - now I wish I had listened to the audio!

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    1. Oh, the audio is fantastic! If you get a chance to visit this one again, try the audio.

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  6. I keep looking for this one at the library but it is always checked out. I'm hoping to get my hands on it soon or I may have to break down and buy it :)

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    1. If you enjoy audio, do try to see if you can get it that way. It was a great listening experience! Good luck!

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  7. Steve West is totally hot hot hot! I didn't listen to it, but I could love imagining him as Sean while I listened! :--) By the way, this coming Sunday, I am posting pictures of my experiment making November Cakes!

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  8. I have been waiting for a really thorough and involving review of this one, and now that I have read yours, I think I need to grab this book as soon as I can! It does indeed sound like a powerful story, and like one that I would love. You did it excellent justice in this review. I think I will go with the audio as well!

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  9. Great thorough and interesting review. I really love the sound of this, you have totally sold it to me! Thanks for the insight, I'm definitely going to have to read this ASAP!

    New to your blog!
    Stephanie @ Stepping Out of the Page

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  10. I've never heard of this one by this author. I've got to check this out!

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  11. I would really like to give this one a change. I don't listen to audiobooks but I might give it another chance.

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  12. you know, i can really see how dystopia would be so good on audio. i imagine it would be like sitting around a campfire listening to a story, feeling that tension build. :-) I'll have to try it sometime! :-)

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  13. I absolutely LOVED this too, although I read a hard copy instead of the audio book. I'm thinking about checking out some of Stiefvater's other books.

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  14. This one is on my TBR too, so I've only half-read your thoughts to avoid any spoilers. I do agree, though, that there is something particularly compelling about listening to this kind of story; I'm fairly new to audiobooks, too, but I listened to The Hunger Games and found myself listening at every single opportunity, not only on longer walks and with longer waits, but even for a minute or two!

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