Narrator: Steve West, Fiona Hardingham
Published by Scholastic Audio on October 18, 2011
Length: 12 hours, 6 minutes
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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.
“It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die” is the ominous opening lines to The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. Ms. Stiefvater has cleverly combined Celtic mythology and traditional themes in this coming of age novel. As a result, The Scorpio Races has the timeless feel of a fairy tale, the old fashioned kind, where there is a fair dose of horror along with the happily ever after.
The Scorpio Races are not for the faint of heart. Every year, the brave and foolhardy men of Thisby Island catch and train the deadly the capaill uisce (CAP-ul ISH-kuh), or water horses, to ride in the legendary race. One is just as likely to die in the effort as to survive. People enter for many reasons, but the glory of winning the race results in fame on the island and beyond. Sean Kendrick, a four time champion, races for his independence and for the love of his water horse, Corr. Kate Connolly, nicknamed Puck, races to hold her family together and preserve their way of life. Although the two start at opposite ends of the island (metaphorically speaking) they discover their common hopes and dreams in the days leading up to the race.
There are many unanswered details about the location and time period, however, when it comes down to it, the details are irrelevant. I imagine Thisby Island is off the coast of Britain and the time period is roughly post World War II. Perhaps this is because I recently watched a movie that took place on Guernsey Island post World War II and that imagery was fresh in my mind. However, Puck and Sean could be two young adults from today, the past, or some dystopian future. Their struggle to make their own way in the world while trying to retain their quality of life is universal.
The Scorpio Races is loaded with vivid metaphors that make the scenes and the frightening capaill uisce come to life. I loved how it was written. Not only is the prose a thing of simple elegance, but the characters are well-developed and compelling. I found the story both heartbreaking and uplifting. I rooted equally for Puck and Sean to win the race, but most of all, I wanted them to be together.
The Scorpio Races is a wonderful, exhilarating read. It is modern and dark, but with a thread of hope that one can follow through to the end. I was entertained from start to finish.
The narration was simply perfect. The tale is narrated by alternating male and female points of view. I am already a huge fan of Steve West, but I was impressed with Fiona Hardingham. Both narrators did an excellent job with the various voices as well as with the pacing, but they brought something else to the performance that I can’t quite express in words. Their narration seemed to add to the wonder of the story. I would strongly recommend listening to this on audio.
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