Saturday, March 9, 2013

Recommendation: 'The Scorpio races' by Maggie Stiefvater

Traditionally, dragons are off the map. Or almost. Actually not out of this world, but on its edge. Known of, but not quite known enough to ally our unease at their edginess. They are ultimate powers that stretch possibilities. So no wonder they come in so many forms - beyond those explicitly called "dragons" there's others, like mockingjays, giant moles, and sentient immortal spaceships.

In fact, if you ever need to bluff your way through a conversation about a fantasy novel just nod and say, "Yeah, a very interesting take on the dragon motif," because you'll probably be right.

And then there are horses.

Stiefvater reworks an old Celtic myth about water horses coming on to the land.. Wait, this is so not My Little Seapony territory!

What Stiefvater does so well is tone. These horses are "horses", barely comprehensible, hardly lovable and yet intense. These are dragons – not that she ever calls them that - of Love, Hate, and most challenging of all, Indifference. Like what they always said about Aslan: he's not a tame lion - you can't quite feel sure which way he'll jump. Stiefvater is excellent at keeping it all on edge. The sense of the mystery never goes away and that’s rare in a genre that likes to colour-code, and - (*cough* McCaffrey).

Oh, and she wraps it all up in a teen love story - delayed, protracted, resolved - with a twist. Yeah. Right.

A very interesting take on the dragon motif.

Title: The Scorpio Races
Author: Maggie Steifvater
Published: 2011
Publisher: Scholastic Press

 - Paul, Birkenhead Library


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