Loosely based on the legend of the eich uisce, deadly horses that come from the sea, The Scorpio Races tells the story of Puck Connolly, a young girl who enters the annual eich uisce races to try and save her home and convince her brother not to leave the island where they grew up. No woman has even competed in the races before, and she must deal with the hatred and sabotage of the other contenders, as well as with the entrancing, terrifying horses themselves.
If, like me, you love horses, or love Celtic mythology, or just love beautiful stories, this is definitely a book to try. Puck is the very definition of a realistic yet "strong" female character. She has her doubts and insecurities, but she is also fierce, stubborn and determined, and she won't let anything stop her from pursuing her goals. Her relationships with her brothers, her neighbors and even her horse feel heart-achingly real. Meanwhile, her world is exquisitely painted, and, like Puck, I feel in love with it all -- with the rough landscape, with the deadly sea, and with the terrifying, magical horses that captivate everyone who lives there.
Like all YA novels, The Scorpio Races also includes romance, but it is secondary to the characters and the plot, and it is, shock of shocks, actually a healthy and organic relationship based on shared interests and slowly developing affection. The novel is told in alternating POV, between Puck and her love interest/Scorpio Races champion Sean, and although I preferred Puck's chapters, both voices feel authentic.
In the space of a few pages, I went from being skeptical about this novel to being completely in love. I devoured it in a day and wish I could go back for more. Any fan of fairy tales, mythology, horses or just excellent YA novels should check it out.