The Scorpio Races
Dogs might be called man's best friend, but they're in close competition with horses. There's a long line of books about people and their equine companions—Black Beauty, Misty of Chincoteague, War Horse—and there are so many movies about horses too—Secretariat, Seabiscuit, that War Horse again—that we might as well put dogs out to pasture.
All of these books and movies put the beauty, power, and intelligence of horses on display and make us think they're just as human as we are. But do you know what those works are missing? Horses that eat people. Hey, Cujo did it for dogs—horse lit has to compete.
Maggie Stiefvater saw this heinous literary oversight and filled it full of scary carnivorous horses with her 2011 novel The Scorpio Races. It's the Kentucky Derby-meets-Hunger Games of young adult novels, and it received tons of glowing reviews and a Michael L. Printz Honor for best book written for teens. All that's missing are people wearing wacky hats and placing bets.
The Scorpio Races is about two nineteen-year-olds who find themselves training for the race of their lives: the titular Scorpio Races, in which vicious water horses called the capaill uisce run at break neck speeds along the beach while their riders try not to break their own necks. It's a unique world drawn from Celtic lore, and the bizarre, dangerous water horses are just as memorable as the humans who try to train them.
Stiefvater knows all about supernatural weirdness, having crafted the uber-popular Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, including Shiver. The Scorpio Races is a one-off book though, so remember to pace yourself while reading. With no sequel planned, this just might be your only chance to hang out with man-eating horses for a while.
Why Should I Care?
It's simple: The Scorpio Races is unlike anything you've read. It's fresh, fun, and even scary-gory-and-gross in a landscape that has become saturated with romantic vampires and lusty werewolves. (Stiefvater is partially to blame for this, creating super-sensitive werewolves in the Wolves of Mercy Falls.) Seriously, when was the last time you read a book in which a horse bit someone's face off? We'll wait while you rack your memory…
Yeah, we don't think there is one, unless zombie horses suddenly took over The Walking Dead while we weren't looking. What makes The Scorpio Races even more interesting is that it's not totally made-up. Stiefvater uses real-world Celtic mythology about the water horses to create her unique world, giving you something else to obsess over when you're done researching the histories of vamps, werewolves, angels, and fairies/faeries/whatever.