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
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.
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!
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).
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.