Audiobook Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Posted by Jessi (Geo) on September 2, 2012 | 5 Comments

Audiobook Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie StiefvaterThe Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Published by Scholastic Press (10.18.2011)
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: Audiobook, 409 pages
Length: 12 hours, 6 minutes
Narrator: Fiona Hardingham, Steve West
Source: I own it
Buy on Amazon

4.5 Stars

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.

My thoughts

This was such a magical storyline that I couldn’t help but love it because it’s unlike anything I’ve ever read before. The water horses, capaill uisce (sounds like cap-pull ish-kuh), are basically kelpies. I’ve never read a story about kelpies before, and the idea of a deadly man-eating water horse fascinates me. Taming and racing them adds to that!

I freaking loved Puck!! She was fiery and brave, a bit petulant at times, but compassionate and outspoken. Her and I would totally be besties! She stood up for what she believed in, and stood up for herself. She had the guts to be the first female ever in an all male event, and held her head high in the face of the taunts she received for it.

I loved the switching points of view. Because I was listening to audio, and there was a man and a woman narrating, the POVs were drastically different. But even if I had been reading, there would still have been a difference. There was a clear distinction between Puck and Sean in the way they talked and thought. Sean was very unruffled and….stoic, and Puck was the complete opposite. Their personalities were so well written (and spoken) that they felt like real people!

The relationship between Sean and Corr (Sean’s uisce stallion) was beautiful, and at times, heart-breaking. Even though Corr was a monster at heart, he was still utterly loyal to Sean. The relationship between Sean and Puck was wonderful, too. It moved very slowly, and the romance was barely there at all, but you could still feel their connection.

There wasn’t really much happening for the majority of this book, and if I’d been reading, I may have actually gotten bored. Which is something that didn’t happen with the audio. But the scenes that involved the capaill uisce kept me on the edge of my seat! One in particular – I don’t want to spoil anything, but I thought something terrible had happened and I kinda wanted to throw the book (except it wasn’t a book, it was my $600 iPod, so of course that didn’t happen).

And the ending! The race itself was such a tiny portion of the whole story, and it was over very quickly, but it was intense! Plus something that happened during the race – not gonna lie, I cried. Ahhh! The ending was bittersweet and left me wanting more. This would make a great movie!

This is the first audiobook that I’ve made it all the way through. I have tried before – with One Second After and Darkfever, but I didn’t care for the narrators so I gave up. (Mac’s voice SO should not sound like that!)

I decided to try Audible for a month (it was free) and I got a free credit for it. I chose carefully – I made sure that there was a male AND female narrating. Because a dude talking in a high girly voice is creepy (like One Second After) and a girl can’t really do a guy’s voice very well either (Darkfever).

So, how did it turn out? Fantastic!! Fiona Hardingham (narrator for Kate “Puck” Connolly) has a great voice; it’s not too girly and she does a spectacular job of conveying emotions. I had a hard time getting used to Steve West (narrator for Sean Kendrick) at first, but the more I listened, the more he grew on me. They were both so good at speaking that I was able to get completely engrossed in the audiobook. Even when they were speaking for other minor characters, their voices were different enough that I felt like it was someone else entirely. Especially when it was George Holly speaking, because he had an American accent and they didn’t.

If you didn’t know, this audiobook was a whopping TWELVE hours long. I could have read the book in about 4. It took me roughly a month to finish it because I only listened to it while I was driving. After spending that long with the narrators, it was quite consuming. And addicting!! Anytime I got in the car, I needed to listen to it. There were a few times when my Audible app was acting up and I had to re-download it so I didn’t get to listen…and I missed it! Then when I finished, it was like, Now what? because now I have to go back to listening to music again (and I love music!) because there’s no more. Sad face!

The only downsides to audio? You have to give it your undivided attention. It’s so easy to listen without actually hearing if your mind wanders off. And if it’s a fantasy with strange names (like this one), you don’t always know how to spell them (I only knew how to spell Corr and capaill uisce because I had a sample of the ebook).

Favorite character: Puck, but my heart belongs to Puffin!! I so want to name a future cat that :)
So, I may have had more, but I didn’t realize I could make bookmarks on audio until I was more than halfway through. >.<

Because Sean Kendrick looking like that is the races, even if no race was ever run. A reminder of what the horses mean to the island; a bridge between what we are, and that thing about Thisby that we all want but can’t seem to touch.

I hear laughter and someone asks if I need help, not in a nice way. I snarl, “What I need is for your mother to have thought a little harder nine months before your birthday!”

And here’s another that wasn’t actually from the story, but something Maggie Stiefvater said in the afterword while talking about water horse legends and shape-shifting:
Because, of course, there’s nothing more irresistible than a strange red-headed boy that smells vaguely of fish.



Plot: 3/5
Writing style: 4.5/5
Narration: 5/5
Originality: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
World-building: 5/5
Pace: 4/5
Cover: 3.5/5
Overall rating: 4.5/5 starfish
Jessi (Geo)

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5 responses to “Audiobook Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

  1. I just can’t listen to audio books. I’ve tried so many times, but every time, I feel like I miss something. It goes to slow for me and my attention just wanders of. I’m glad that you liked this one so much! The story sounds great and I’m definitely going to get a paperback copy of this book. Thanks for the lovely audio review, I liked reading it :)

  2. I’m listening to this one right now. I love the alternating narration already, and the vaguely historical feel to the setting. It kind of reminds me of the early 30s or something and it really works.

  3. I know right! Sometimes the narrator tries *too hard* to voice the other gender it comes out sounding really weird. *I’mlookingatyouWhereSheWent*

    On the other hand, Scorpio Races wasn’t as magical as I expected, not the writing but in the paranormal sense. I do like the water horses but somehow I had expected more…magic? But I really enjoyed the writing. This was my first Maggie book and I love the way she makes the smallest of everyday things sound interesting.

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