By Maggie Stiefvater
Awards: Printz Award, Kirkus Best Book of the Year, Horn Book Best Book of the Year
Adult Themes: There are violent incidents throughout the book, but they are not overly graphic.
Plot: Maggie Stiefvater uses inspiration from a Celtic myth about water horses—beautiful, deadly fairy creatures that are part horse and part man-eating sea monster—to weave this gripping tale. Men on the island of Thisby have been catching and trying to tame the water horses for generations when the creatures emerge onshore in fall. The tradition has spawned the yearly Scorpio Races, an extraordinarily dangerous event in which riders jockey mostly wild water horses in hopes of winning a fabulous cash prize – if they’re not eaten by their own, or an opponent’s, mount in the process. The book opens with a scene in which young Sean Kendrick watches his father meet an untimely end during a race, then flashes forward: Sean Kendrick is now nineteen years old and the most renowned trainer of racing water horses on the island. Everyone knows he’s a sure bet to win this year’s race. But teenage Kate Connolly, otherwise known as Puck, has her eyes on the prize, too. She and her brothers were orphaned when their parents were eaten by water horses, and now her oldest brother plans to leave for the mainland. Puck must win the race to earn enough money to support herself and her younger brother, but she can’t afford to buy a water horse and so begins training her small pony to compete alongside the savage animals. Stiefvater winds the plot so taut as the book leads up to the race that it’s impossible to turn the pages fast enough.
|Maggie Steifvater (Photo: Kate Hummel)
Good to Know: Warner Brothers is currently working on a film adaptation of the book. Unfortunately, readers who love this nail-biting book will have to endure yet more suspense: it is set to be released in 2015.