It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.

The waters around Thisby contain more than just fish. As winter approaches, cappaill uisce, the water horses, are drawn to the beaches where only the brave will attempt to catch them. For the cappaill uisce feeds on meat and will sooner kill a man than look at him. But every November, the men of Thisby ride these dangerous creatures in the Scorpio Races. This year a girl dares to ride…

The water horses originate from the Celtic myth of the kelpies, horses that lived in the sea and would lure children into the water in order to eat them. Although the location of the fictional island of Thisby is not revealed, it’s obviously modelled on the Hebridean islands off the west coast of Scotland. Stiefvater does an excellent job of bringing the island alive, from its people and community to the land itself.

Now, I like horses. I grew up reading books about horses and it may play a big part in why I loved this book. I couldn’t help but think of the Jinny stories, where a girl tames a chestnut Arab in the wilds of the Scottish Highlands. Fans of Jinny will probably love this too, even if the horses are a little different. Dove is just the kind of horse I dreamed about owning myself. If you don’t see the point of horses, I don’t think you’ll get the central concept of this story. It’s not about the action of the races but about the bond between humans and horses.

The plot of down-trodden orphan boy who naturally gifted with horses, who must battle against the cruel, privileged son of the stable owner, sort of reminded me of Jilly Cooper’s Riders, but without the sex. I’m sure the target audience will not know what I’m on about though and will enjoy it all the same.

I have to add, the ending was one of the best I’ve read this year. I could be a YA convert yet!