Tag Archives: Magical realism

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

scorpio races

Stiefvater, M. (2011). The Scorpio Races. New York: Scholastic Press. (978-0-5422-490-1)

Plot Summary:

Puck Connolly knows where she is from and where she belongs; she is a Connolly and she belongs with her brothers on Thisby Island. But, the family is having a hard time making ends meet and her older brother is threatening to leave the island. So, Puck decides to ride in the Scorpio Races; the first girl ever to do so.

Sean Kendrick, on the other hand, has been riding and winning in the races for years – but always for someone else. This year, if he wins, he will get the most important thing in the world for him – his freedom. Sean admires Puck’s grit and determination to win but he knows that the best he can do is help her train; not so she will win but so she will survive.

Critical Evaluation:

An interesting trend I am enjoying is the recycling of the old monsters, characters of folk tales and mythology, and bringing them into the modern world. In our throw-away society, I believe that too often authors forget the rich and diverse traditions available to them. Stiefvater’s treatment of the water horse, or capall uisce, stays true to its origin thus introducing elements of the story to a new generation of readers. In so doing, she is encouraging readers to dive into the rich literary history that is foundational to today’s culture. But, at the same time, she is adding another layer to the tradition of the water horse.

Further, Stiefvater has successfully created a place for this mythical creature to live. It may seem pedantic to point out that setting is an essential component in creating a believable tale but I believe it is particularly true in this story. Sean Kendrick and Puck Connolly have been shaped into the people they are by the loneliness of the island, by the elements, by the insular island culture, and by the beautifully alluring danger lurking in the water. The setting is a secondary character in Scorpio Races.

Finally, by allowing Puck and Kendrick to tell their own stories with their own voice, the reader is able to see the differences and similarities between these two interesting people.

Reader’s Annotation:

Only one can win the Scorpio Races but many can die. The horses are killers and the sea is calling. Is it worth the risk?

Information About the Author:

Maggie Stiefvater is a musician who plays several instruments including the bagpipes. She is also an award-winning colored pencil artist and a calligraphy instructor. She is now a full-time writer.

Maggie is the mother of two children and, as she says on her website, “four neurotic dogs who fart recreationally.”

Although Stiefvater gained a loyal following with her Shiver trilogy and Books of Faerie, but she started receiving literacy accolades with the publication of Scorpio Races and Raven Boys.

Please see her website for more information: http://maggiestiefvater.com/


  • Magical realism
  • Adventure
  • Fantasy

Curriculum Ties:

  • Myths foundational to literature today

Booktalking Ideas:

Reading Level/Interest Age:

  • Ages 14 and up
  • Reading level 5.5

Challenge Issues:

  • N/A

Why did you include this book?:


  • Kirkus starred review
  • School Library Journal starred review
  • Booklist, starred review
  • Horn Book, starred review


  • Michael L. Printz Award Honor, 2011
  • Odyssey Honor Audiobook (audio book), 2012
  • Notable Children’s Recording list, 2012 (audio book)
  • ALA Notable Books for Children, 2012
  • The New York Times Notable Childrens’ Books of 2011
  • Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Books of 2011
  • Amazon’s Best Books for Teens 2011
  • School Library Journal‘s Best Books of the Year
  • Kirkus’ Best Teen Books of the Year (2011)
  • Horn Book Best Books of 2011
  • YALSA Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2012
  • YALSA Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults, 2012