The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater – Book Review

Book/Author: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Standalone/Series: I believe this to be a standalone book. HUZZAH FOR STANDALONES.
Publisher/Year: Scholastic 2011
Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher during BEA in exchange for an honest review.

My feelings toward The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater are rather muddled. I feel like I can’t give a straight answer when asked if I liked this book. There are some parts of this book that made me love it and some aspects that really made me not feel like picking it up. I wasn’t really rushing to pick this one up (but I’ll be the first to admit that I was really stressed out while attempting to read this book) but when I DID pick it up I found myself utterly immersed in the story itself as it is quite magical and captivating.

The major source of contention for me was the writing:

Good: Maggie Stievater has this knack for writing in a way that makes everything seem so alive and vivid. Her descriptions of the setting in particular are breathtaking in the way that I feel I’m gazing into that same sunset or standing right next to that horse feeling tense and afraid but so alive that my blood is pumping and my chest is thumping. I can see it clearly. I can smell it. I can hear it. Maggie Stiefvater takes me there in an intense way that most writers cannot achieve. Her prose is lovely and spellbinding and takes on ethereal qualities.

Kinda Meh: That same writing that I am memorized by sometimes also hindered my love for the story. Now, this is one thing you must know about me. I am not one that always needs a fast plot that whips me around and keeps my interest. I love a good, slow story with lush prose and descriptions that can go on for pages. I do. I mean, Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one of my favorite authors and THAT MAN is overly verbose. A whole chapter goes by and you realize nothing freaking happened but it was lovely and wonderful all the same. For whatever reason, sometimes I just felt as though some of the descriptions weren’t doing much for me to move the story, thus not making me dying to pick it up. I think one of the issues is that I wasn’t ever feeling SUPER connected to any of the characters so even THAT couldn’t propel me forwards. It may have been my state of mind needing something fast paced but sometimes the writing, while I would get lost in the beauty of it, would also slow me down to the point of exhaustion.

I’m not sure why I never felt too much for the main characters but I just couldn’t. I wanted them to be ok and I was obviously wanting the best outcome for them but I more so wanted to learn more about these crazy horses! They were magical and mysterious and I felt the same brimming curiosity that Puck felt despite knowing they were dangerous. The story itself was so unique and intriguing and that is what ultimately kept me reading and desiring to finish it. I rather like the romantical aspect of this book. I was rooting for that for sure despite the fact it was kind of predictable, to me, what was going to happen but despite that I found myself excited for their every interaction but happy that it didn’t overtake the whole book. I mean romances are a dime a dozen but KILLER HORSES?!? Thank you, Maggie, for not doing one of those tricks where you give me an interesting premise to lure me in but instead focus on the romance.

Final Thought: This was my first encounter with Maggie Steifvater’s writing and I’ll be for sure picking up Shiver soon as I have high hopes for it. I loved so many of the qualities of her writing (despite my issues which could very well have been my frame of mind) but hopefully this time I’ll connect with the characters more and find myself feeling more compelled to pick it up. I definitely enjoyed aspects this one but I won’t say that it was unputdownable. If you get distracted by kind of flowery prose, you probably will have troubles with this one. If you like unique storylines (with a hint of something supernatural..everything was normal except the killer horses) and love the feeling of being transported into the story by means of prose that is quite descriptive and flowery (in a really beautiful way), then you’ll dig this. I’d point this one out for all my readers of the blog who only dabble in YA once in a while. Also, I could see this being a kickass movie.

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. Megan at Book Brats says:

    Great review! I have seen this one around for awhile and have been tempted to pick it up. I might just have to see for myself, since I really do like horses. I'm just not a fan of wordiness!

    Megan at Book Brats!

  2. lol, glad to see i'm not the only one who writes reviews on lunch break. :0)

    I haven't read this one yet. I read shiver and linger, forever still on my shelf. I also read Lament. I think it just might be her writing.. I found the same thing with shiver and linger, I didnt' feel that desire to pick it up constantly, and I had to be in the mood for something mellow to read it.. I found they were good books to double read. I would read other stuff, then I would read them a bit before bed. her descriptions would calm me.. and I would be able to put it down at a reasonable hour. lol

    I hope do give her other stuff a shot!

  3. Andrea @ Cozy Up says:

    Great review. I've seen this book around a lot and I have always flip flopped about picking it up and still haven't (I think I've just found so many other books that I've been more interested in). Your review makes me glad I haven't jumped on this one quickly, and maybe I'll look into getting it when I have more time for it but I'm not a fan of too much wordiness, I actually enjoy more often than not a nice fast paced plot. Thanks for all the info though!

    Cozy Up With A Good Read

  4. Boo, I loved it, and am sad you didn't, but you know what is a fact of life? Not everyone loves every book! I totally hate that feeling when you read a MAJORLY hyped book and then feel crazy for not liking it.

  5. Tanya Patrice says:

    I actually really liked this one 🙂 I agree that it was slow in parts, but I really connected with the main characters Puck and Sean. And I didn't think of it then, but now that you've said it, I also agree that there could have been a bit more said about those awesome horses. I love seeing reviews I've read to give me a different perspective!

  6. I really appreciate your honest review on this. I am about to pick up the last book in her Mercy Falls series and I agree that her writing is amazing. But I wasn't sure if I'd grab this one or not – I'm still on the fence. I've heard a lot of people just love it, but I've heard just as many say what you said – that htey couldn't fall in love with the main characters and that something about the book just dragged.

    -Jac @ For Love and Books

  7. Liza (Reading with ABC) says:

    Thanks for the review! I have The Scorpio Races and haven't been able to read it yet. I did love Maggie's Wolves of Mercy Falls series and her writing is so beautiful and lyrical that I'll read anything she writes!

  8. Burgandy Ice says:

    Now, see?!?! You wanted to know more about the horses… because Puck was so interested in them and we get so many hints and bits and pieces… but WHY OH WHY wasn't (the girl) curious? intrigued? tempted?!?! I mean… I can't imagine living on that island and not wanting to know more. Period.

    I also agree with the writing – although I loved it, there were moments where I sat staring at the page, completely ripped out of the story, in awe over the wording, wondering how she did that and discussing with myself what I thought about it. hahahaha I didn't always improve the story. Necessarily.

    Great review!!

  9. I actually really loved The Scorpio Races. I think it's because I, like you, tend to love beautiful, lingering, intricate descriptions and Maggie delivers with this novel. It does take some getting used to, of course, but it was wonderfully done.

    I guess the only difference was I was totally rooting for the characters. I actually really liked Puck – I could relate to her (strange as that sounds since her situation is completely different) and I loved being a part of her experience as she races.

    Shiver was an absolutely lovely read for me. It was the first book of hers that I ever read – and I fell in love with her writing style immediately.

    And yes, I totally agree that The Scorpio Races would make a great film!

  10. I was hesitant to read this review, because all I read is how everyone loves this book.. and well. I didn't. I liked it. It was beautiful, but I wanted SO much more from it.

  11. April (BooksandWine) says:

    I like all of those things. And I also think that your state of mind plays a very important role when it comes to approaching reading. Like, when I am stressed out and distracted, I don't want a book that will be a lot of work to read or that does not immediately engage me.

  12. I was really, really meh about this one. I recognized that the writing was good and beautiful, but if the story and the characters are dull and boring, no amount of beautiful writing can save a book for me.

    I haven't read anything else by Stiefvater, and I'm more than a little hesitant now.

    I like a lot of the points you brought up in your review though! Great job!


  1. […] island from The Scorpio Races — Maggie Steifvater is an amazing writer and I could just see this nameless island so […]

  2. […]  The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater: Puck is a badass equestrian to ride these killer horses and to be the only girl to do it. I loved the setting and the concept for this book (plus the writing is amazing) and I thought it would be fun to honor Puck with an equestrian costume. If you want to go even further, add some blood to your costume since you ARE riding killer horses and it’s not uncommon to get bitten if not killed. […]