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. (Synopsis taken from Goodreads.)
So, this was a friend recommendation that I let sit for months. At least six. I didn’t think it sounded all that great. Then, in a fit of boredom, I plucked it off the shelf and read it.
And I loved it.
Let’s start with Puck. Not only does she have an awesome nickname, but she has a dry sense of humor, and she’s become almost a mother to her brothers after her parent were killed by the deadly capaill uisce (copple ooshka), the flesh-eating water horses who, every November, the townsfolk of tiny Thisby fight to control.
That’s what the Scorpio Races are…on the first of November, dozens of men and boys race the creatures down the beach. It’s a dangerous sport, and there are always deaths. Not only during the race, but during the training, as well.
And Puck needs money to have her house. So she enters. And not only is she the first girl in what has always been an all-men club, she doesn’t ride a uisce, she rides her pony, Dove.
Then there’s Sean. He’s won the Race before, always on his large red uisce stallion, Cor. Except Cor isn’t really his. He belongs to Malvern’s stables, and Sean knows that one year, Cor could easily go to someone else.
So he arranges to buy Cor. But he only can…if he wins the races.
That’s the thing about this book…you find yourself rooting for both Puck and Sean to win…you can’t decide between them. Either Puck looses her house…or Sean looses the water horse that has pretty much become his family.
The world building is superb, the characters are all unique and quirky and very much small-town. There a small, sweet romance building, and even the horses have personalities.
My one complaint is that after the races, we don’t find out much. The book stops. But the ending made me cry, and that’s saying something, since I don’t normally cry during books.