I read this because the internet RAVES about it, and I can never say no to you guys. And also because it’s the Forever YA Book Club pick for this month. And also because TY and I read Stiefvater’s paranormal wolfmance Shiver for the Horrible Dare Challenge a few years back and it was disappointing in lack of horribleness (i.e. Kind Of Good). Oh and also because CARNIVOROUS WATER HORSES.
(This is, according to Stiefvater’s own definition, a reaction rather than a review, as it is largely about my FEELINGS, which I convey through allcaps and sweary macros. [For the record, I am not at all bothered my Stiefvater’s distinctions, because I am ridiculous and should not be taken seriously. This is not sarcasm, I am in earnest. I am here to lol and get shouty about things. You are here because you like this about me. Carrying on.])
So. The capall uisce are carnivorous water horses. They live in the water, and you catch them, and then once a year you race them and try not to get eaten. They are supahfast. Racing the carnivorous water horses is pretty much the only thing the island on which our novel is set has going for it, since it seems in all other respects to be a shitty rock to live on. So shitty, in fact, that Puck Connolly’s older brother is like, Everyone? I’m out. Oh and also, we’re losing the house. (And oh yes, their parents are dead, having been eaten by carnivorous water horses.)
So Puck is like, Damn, maybe I had better compete in the races and win some moneys. Also competing for The Moneys is Sean, who wins the races most of the time, which should be awesome except that Sean is a horse-whispering worker-lackey and his boss is a choad who won’t sell him Corr, his horse-soul-mate, for any moneys. (Sean is also an orphan. This book is positively lousy with orphans.)
And so the island gears up for the races and everyone practices their shit on the beach which is DANGEROUS both because the sea is full of carnivorous water horses, and because the carnivorous water horse on which you ride is always trying to FLING itself into the breach, dear friends. But the race is run on the beach, for Extra Danger. And then Puck shows up at the beach on her non-carnivorous regularhorse and everyone is like:
because she is YOUNG and a GIRL and also…regularhorse. But she rides to save her house! And Sean rides to win his horse-mate! And they are both like *eyes at each other* but it’s not soppy, it’s STARK and SPARE, sort of like the book.
I mean, mostly. There are lollarious lines herein, like ‘Dory is what Mum used to call a “strong-looking woman,” which means that, from the back, she looked like a man, and, from the front, you preferred the back’ and then there are lines like ‘She’s my mare and my best friend, and I keep waiting for something bad to happen to her, because I love her too much’ which I find EMOTIONALLY WRECKING. This book made me FEEL in my HEART-SPACE.
And whenever you start to settle into the story, Stiefvater kills something off just to remind you that she’s serious. (It is usually a sheep, but sheep can be Very Dead.) The carnivorous water horse race is suitably dramatic, and the ending only cops out the least little bit.
Well done, Stiefvater! I will stop thinking of you as One Of Those PNR Writers Who Sucks (which I’m sure is very relieving to you).