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...
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.
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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