I have to be honest here, there are many things that could have gone wrong with this book, for me.
1. I do not care for horses nor do I like to read about them or even, lazily so, watch movies about them. I hate being near them; the smell of them; and the way they look at me.
2. The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, while well-written and a good read, was definitely not something I found extraordinary or special.
3. There was a lot of teasing regarding the romance, rather than "just doing it", as a co-worker has said. "Just have sex already".
But there were other things that made this book so right for me.
1. There was not a distracted focus on the romance, over the most important conflict at hand.
2. It did not promise to end all neat and clean, leaving the reader questioning who they'd prefer to win the Scorpio Race.
3. It took a very mature tone, despite being a YA read.
4. Hello, not just horses, but water horses from fairy mythology? Awesome.
Stiefvater swept me away with the captivating story of The Scorpio Races, following Puck Connolly and Sean Kendrick. This book did not spend too much time describing the race itself, but the journey of a teen into adulthood; reconciliation with loss; and how to pick yourself up again after you've fallen several times over.
I have to applaud Stiefvater's ability to completely turn her writing around. It's like she's stopped and said "okay, enough of the bullshit, let's get to the real story that can touch hearts". This book has healthy amounts of everything.
It left me terrified of water horses, but also fascinated by them. There's bloodshed and gore; politics and women's rights; love and loathing; jealous plots and happy results; and mostly the discussion of possibilities and hope. Hoping for the best from the future, rather than the minimal. It's like a modern Shakespeare play, but a book...for teens, sort of.
While this isn't the book to keep you hanging off the edge of your seat, it certainly is one that will keep that seat warm for quite awhile.