Ahoy there me mateys! I have been hearing about Maggie Stiefvater’s work for a long time and have been meaning to read some of it long before now. I picked this one because it deals with water horses and I listened to this one in audio book format.
What is a water horse? It is a mythical creature of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales that lives in the water but usually has the form of a horse out of the water. Many of the myths say that they are carnivores and love blood – especially that of humans. Some claim that they can shapeshift into the forms of men. In pretty much all cases, they are not friendly and are predators and tricksters.
So this book is about water horses that come from the sea and a high-stakes race every November on a certain island. Two riders, Puck and Sean, each have their own reasons for attempting to win the race this year. The story shifts between the two perspectives. I have always enjoyed the water horse legend but I have to say that this was a very odd read. The problem was that I loved the chapters about Sean Kendrick and couldn’t stand the ones about Puck Connolly.
Puck just annoyed me. I should have loved her. Usually the snarky, underdog girl competing in a boy’s game is a winner. But all Puck seems to do was mope about her brother leaving the island and whine. Also she knew nothing about the world of the water horses and to compete with her island pony just seemed so unrealistic and stupid. She just seemed so much younger than her stated age in the book. I honestly would have preferred that her storyline have been cut altogether. And as someone who preaches girl power that both saddens and surprises me.
As for Sean, the real strength in his chapters was his relationship with Cor, the water horse. I thought Sean himself was rather two-dimensional. He was a typical silent brooding type. He is supposedly 19 in the novel but came across as a lot younger as well. But I adored his relationship with the water horses and their magic. It was his perspective on the race and the other horses that made this book for me. His relationship with Puck and the romance that evolved was, unfortunately for me, an unnecessary distraction.
But the real triumph of this novel is in the details of island community and its relationship with the water horses and the culture that has sprung up around them. It is an exciting and wonderful take on the myth of the water horses. I felt like the island could actually exist somewhere. The water horses themselves were vicious and had unique personalities. That was worth readin’ this novel.
I also did not like the ending of the race or novel at all. Some of it seemed so very predictable and I was disappointed. I am not sure if I would read another book by this author. None of her other books seem to appeal. But I am glad I gave this one a shot even if I didn’t love it.
Side note: I wish I could have seen more of Puck’s brother, Finn. He was actually me favourite character (besides the horses that is!)
Goodreads has this to say about the novel:
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. Others die.
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 chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.
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