by Maggie Stiefvater
Early High School and older
On the island of Thisby lives the capaill uisce, vicious horses that rise up from the sea. If you can catch them, and survive, you can run in the Scorpio Races.
Sean Kendrick is a four time winner of the Scorpio Races, one of the best riders on the island, and together with his stallion Corr, trying to win his freedom. His no nonsense approach to life helps keep the capail uisce in order. When a girl enters into the races for the first time ever, his world shifts.
Kate Connolly, better known as Puck, is an orphan trying to eek out a living on the harsh island of Thisby. She lives with her two brothers, takes care of the house, but her true love is her horse. When her older brother says he is leaving, her world starts falling apart. She decides to enter the Scorpio races to earn the money to make her brother stay. Not only is she the first girl to enter the races, she registers her island pony, not a capaill uisce in the race. Inciting ridicule, prejudice, and scorn, she trains herself and the pony to run in the race.
As they train against each other, they get to know each other better. Sean is concerned for her safety on the beach during the race with the vicious water horses running beside her. Puck just wants to try to win, but her life keeps getting more and more complicated. Puck and Sean both need to win, but there is only one winner of the Scorpio Races.
This story is about relationships: Sean and Puck, Sean and his capaill uisce, Puck and her pony, and even family relationships. Puck's life is falling apart, and she needs to find something help her cope with it. Sean needs to find his path to manhood and freedom. The fantasy takes a back seat to the personal matters and issues in the book.
This was slightly different book, but very enjoyable. The story telling flips between Puck and Sean, giving the two perspectives to tell both their stories. I liked having the different stories so that we understand every one's motivations. A lot of the time I read books for the fantasy and the magic; this book I read to find out who won the race and what they did after that.
While this is not a book I will give out to everyone, it's definitely a great read. I would hand it to both girls and boys, since the perspective switches between the two. I would recommend to early high school aged, mostly because I'm not sure that middle school kids would be interested in the issues in the book. Also, there are some slightly violent scenes.
Great book, if you can find the right crowd for it. I enjoyed it a lot!