I like horses. I went through that major phase many young people did in middle school when I was absolutely obsessed with horses. So its no surprise that the idea of dangerous water horses that will kill a man as soon as let one ride them was really exciting to me. And a race involving those horses? Well, sign me up!
How did this book fare? Well let’s take a look.
The Plot: 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.
The characters were enjoyable, the plot was gripping and intense and it did legitimately keep me guessing. I didn't know what was going to happen in the end, and I like that feeling in a book. (Summary according to Goodreads)
The Characters: There are two main characters here. Puck is a girl who enters the races to save her home and family with the winnings after her brother decides to abandon them. She’s tenacious and determined and all around likable as a character. My favorite of the two was Sean, however, who was classically mysterious, keeping his pain close to his chest (a trope that I often like in my YA boys). However he did so without ever being a jerk and his back story was intriguing. He broke my heart many a time. The other characters don’t really stick out to me. I say this because it’s been awhile since I read the book and no one outside the main characters have stuck in my mind as particularly memorable, which I suppose is a bad mark on the book. But the characters were interesting where it most counted and no one was badly written, so over all they did their job.
The Good Points: As stated before, I love the water horses. They’re just so crazy and threatening and majestic all at once. The most intense scene was when Puck and her brother were hiding from a wild water horse that had wandered onto their property. The scene really captured why these creatures are to be feared. I also liked that the book kept me guessing. I legitimately wasn’t sure how the book was going to end or who was going to win or whether or not Puck would stick with her normal horse or cave and ride a water horse. I didn’t know how her relationship with Sean would end up either. It’s nice to read a book that genuinely keeps me on my toes.
The Bad Points: This book might have earned a higher rating if not for the sexism angle. Half of the conflict of this book has to deal with Puck being the first ever woman to ride in this race which of course causes all sorts of huffing and puffing from the populace. But it was just so… boring and been done before. Even though it was in a time period when women were more marginalized, there’s no reason she had to include this angle. There was tension without it. Puck is riding a normal horse in the most dangerous horse race in the world. And she's young. That's plenty of reason for people to tell her not to do it. Commentary on sexism seemed overdone and extra to a story that was already plenty gripping. Outside of that, the pacing was slow in parts. Not enough to bore me but enough to be noticeable
Outside of that, I enjoyed it. I love the slow build of the relationship, the environment of the island, the likability of the characters and the man eating horses themselves. A great book to pick up if you like action and horse racing with a touch of death!
Final Rating- 4/5