Can we all discuss how terrible book blurbs can often be?! I mean, can I get an “Amen”?! Honestly, how many times have I picked up a book, read the teaser on the back or inside jacket, and promptly put it back down with a disgusted look and moved to the next book? Quite a lot of times, my friends. The blurbs are meant to serve as enticing snippets that lure us in with siren’s songs of potential enjoyment and yet so very often they only succeed in misrepresenting the book and ruining a potential reader opportunity.
I have a hard time wrangling Maggie Stiefvater’s novel, The Scorpio Races, into synopsis submission. And apparently so did Goodreads:
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.
That blurb really tells you nothing about the actual events that take place in the novel. They casually throw in the term “water horses” as if anyone reading the blurb would say, “ah, yes. Good ol’ water horses.” Not I. My Celtic/Scottish/Welsh mythology isn’t what it used to be, and I needed some serious introductions to the idea of water horses, or capaill uisce, which seem to be wickedly vicious, carnivorous beasts that live in the ocean until the arrival of fall on the island of Thisby compels them to break from the churning waves and gallop along the island’s coasts.
The presence of this highly supernatural and mythological element commingling with everyday, mundane life is part of what gives this novel its appeal. It is not an alternate reality or universe; it is our universe and our reality; it is the same ol’ baloney that happen in a small town, and the same issues that plague teens. Plus meat-eating, man-killing, ocean-dwelling horse beasts.
The other thing that makes this novel special is the way it is written. This could’ve easily gone in another, less pleasing direction, what with the mythological creatures and the typical teen drama, but Stiefvater kept the story grounded and moving forward. I will say that the ending felt rushed and left me feeling unresolved, but it wasn’t unfinished; it was just unfinished to my satisfaction, because I had begun to care about the characters and I wanted more info about what happened to them than was provided. But if that is my biggest complaint about a YA book (which stands a good chance of being riddled with feelings and emotions and problems that aren’t really problems), I’ll take it. It wasn’t ridiculous. It wasn’t too feeling-y. It wasn’t gender specific or age specific. It was just plain good!