There's a widespread phenomenon among fourth grade girls that I like to call "horse fever." It's not contagious, but it's rampant and for some, all-consuming.
Now, I understand that not all girls love horses or obsessively read horse books in fourth grade. Some get started as early as second or third grade and keep going well into their teens. And I know that horse fever is not limited to just girls, because I inherited horse fever from my father. He had a full set of Marguerite Henry's Misty of Chincoteague books and that's what got me started. So it's no surprise that I was excited, excited, excited about Maggie Stiefvater's new book about water horses. If you've ever had horse fever, this book has a lot to offer. Specifically, the capaill uisce.
The horses, or capaill uisce, in The Scorpio Races are based on the mythical Celtic creatures also known as glashtin, aughisky and kelpie. In this story, the capaill uisce (I think this loosely translates to water stallion, but don't quote me on that) emerge from the sea during the stormy last days of October to make their way to the Island of Thisby.
Thisby is a rocky little island, poor and tough, and its residents are the same. The first weeks of November are dedicated to the Scorpio Festival, and tourists abound. The festivities culminate in the Scorpio Races, where islanders ride the capaill uisce in a race unlike any other horse race. The capaill uisce are big, fast and hungry for blood. Yes, these wild horses eat people. Ahhhh!!!!! How's that for excitement?
This brings us to Puck Connolly, a local girl who signs up to ride in the races. No woman has ever ridden in the races before, but Puck is desperate for the money. Her main rival in the races is four-time Scorpio champion Sean Kendrick, who is riding to save his beloved capall named Corr. There can only be one winner and the greatest challenge during the races is to stay alive.
Does Puck stand a chance? Is Sean facing a greater evil on the island? What happens when the water calls to the horses and the humans who ride them? There's danger, there's jealousy, there's heartbreak and there are horses. It's quite a combination.