Puck Connolly is about be the first girl to take part in the annual Scorpio Races, a dangerous race across compelling waters atop capaill uisce – flesh-eating water horses attracted to the sea. Puck is terrified, but it’s her only choice. So with help from Sean Kendrick, winner of the races for the past four years, she begins to train.
Review of the story
On the surface, The Scorpio Races looks purely like a fantasy novel, but take away the capaill uisce (pronounced CAP-ul ISH-kuh), and it’s much more like contemporary fiction. This is why I enjoyed it so much. It’s not really a story about racing magical horses – although the race is an important element that holds everything together – it’s more about the island of Thisby, the people who live there, and their relationship with the capaill uisce. The book takes place in the few weeks leading up to the race on these powerful, beautiful – and deadly – animals.
The Scorpio Races is a slow-paced story, but this is its strength. Thisby isn’t bustling like the mainland – there’s no need to rush when there’s nothing to rush for. It’s a poor, quiet island where everybody knows each other. It’s home to Puck, and she never wishes to leave. The Scorpio Races is a humbling tale, imaginative and alive. I could picture it all and I was captivated by its characters, whom I followed right up until the perfect, cinematic ending. It also lacks action, which suits me just fine, but when there is, it’s thrilling. Although I was rooting for Puck – it’s hard not to – Sean was my favourite character to listen to. They’re contrasting characters, but perfectly suited. There’s the inevitable romance, subtle and real. You won’t find instaromance here. Even though Sean and Puck look out for each other, they never take their eyes off the goal – to win.
I never expected to love The Scorpio Races. Surprisingly, I thought it was utterly breathtaking and haven’t stopped thinking about it since I finished.
It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.
Review of the audiobook
The Scorpio Races is the first ‘proper’ audiobook I’ve ever listened to, aside from dramatisations of Enid Blyton novels and a little bit of The Time Traveler’s Wife. It took me two months to finish, yet I never forgot any part of the story or became confused like I might have done if I was reading the book over that length of time.
Listening to the audiobook was an extremely enjoyable experience, perfect for my daily commute. It won a Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults award and I can see why – the production is fantastic. I loved the two actors who narrated Sean and Puck. They also had to put on different voices/accents for the side characters, which I imagine wasn’t easy. If you’ve read The Scorpio Races before, you may be interested to know that Sean and Puck have southern English accents. I imagined Thisby to be similar to Jersey or Guernsey, and England to be the ‘mainland’.
I was really disappointed when the story ended on my way home, when I had thought there was over an hour still left to listen to, which I haven’t felt in a long time. First person narrative is well suited to audiobooks – it isn’t like someone reading you a story, but more like watching a movie and feeling like you’re in the thick of things. I’d wholly recommend The Scorpio Races audiobook even if you’re hesitant about them. Give it a try! I loved it. You can listen to a sample here.