Monday, September 10, 2012

Mandy's Book of the Week (9/10)

I'm finally back to posting these!  Between getting library cards issued to every Cotter student and doing lots of book talks, I've been out of the office most Monday mornings and these postings got put on hold.

This week, I present you with a book that is unique at the present time.  This book is a standalone novel, meaning it is not a part of a series.  The entire story opens and closes within the confines of this book.

Maggie Stiefvater has taken the legend of the water horses, a Celtic mythical creature (called the capaill uisce in this book), and made it her own.  I'm not a "horse girl,"  and I was worried that I wouldn't like this book, but MAN!, this book is good.

The capaill uisce live in the ocean and start coming to land on the island of Thisby every autumn.  This is dangerous as the horses are carnivorous (read: they'll eat you, your sheep, your cat, whatever) and super strong.  In fact, one of the main character's parents were killed by the horses several years before.

This is a flip perspective book, so you go back and forth between Puck (real name Kate, the middle child orphaned by the capaill uisce) and Sean, a 19 year old who works at the island's stable.

Thisby is generally an island filled with the poor and there is no exception for Puck and her two brothers.  She and her younger brother take odd jobs when they can, but their main breadwinner is her older brother, Gabe.  Gabe is responsible for keeping them afloat, so when he decides he just can't take island life anymore and decides to move to the mainland, Puck has to take drastic measures to make sure the rest of the family can afford to live.

For Sean, his risk comes for the horse he loves.  He's been training his capaill uisce, Corr, for years and has grown to love him dearly.  In fact, while the water horses generally cannot be trusted, Sean and Corr have developed a small sense of trust with each other.

Every November, the Scorpio Races are held.  This is the island's primary means of support as people come from all over the world to watch people chance their lives by racing the capaill uisce on the beach.  Lives are lost every year; the horses are drawn to the sea and have a type of magic living in them that causes their riders to go willingly into the sea with them.  And that is the more bloodless type of death, the horses maim and kill on the beach as well.

Puck decides to enter the race as a means to save her house and provide for herself and her brother, since the winner gets a sizable amount of money.  However, Puck is going to race her mare instead of a water horse and she's the first woman ever to enter the race, leaving her vulnerable to attack by men who think she shouldn't be a part of it.

Sean has asked to purchase Corr from his ruthless boss, the owner of the stable where he works, to no avail.  Sean has won the Scorpio Races on Corr for the last 2 years and has been saving his money.  He hopes that this will be the year he can somehow find the right price to make Corr his.

This book was such a joy to read.  It was full of suspense and Maggie Stiefvater writes in such a way that you never know what is going to happen.  The Scorpio Races was also a Printz Honor book, meaning that it expands from being simply a book and became literature.

Come and enjoy it!

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