Hi friends! Welcome back to my first book review since April. Honestly, I’ve pretty much forgotten how to write reviews, and I’ve kind of forgotten how I felt when I first finished reading this book, but here we are. I’m so glad I started taking notes of what I liked and didn’t, otherwise, I probably would never have been able to write this.
Anyway, here I am today with my review of The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, including some pictures and thoughts on her November Cakes recipe. I’m super excited, so let’s jump right in!
Book: The Scorpio Races
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Summary: Some race to win. Others race to survive.
It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line.
Some riders live.
At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.
Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a choice. So she enters the competition – the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.
As she did in her bestselling Shiver trilogy, author Maggie Stiefvater takes us to the breaking point, where both love and life meet their greatest obstacles, and only the strong of heart can survive. The Scorpio Races is an unforgettable reading experience.
I loved Puck and Sean.
They cared so much, and felt so much, having been through a lot of pain and suffering, but they were still there, still fighting, still going.
I loved Puck’s dedication to her little brother and her determination to save him and herself when Gabe abandoned them. I admired her determination to win on the back of her lovely and faithful horse despite the overwhelming and much stronger opposition.
I felt Sean’s hope to eventually lead an independent life and have Corr as his own. All his feelings, pain, and desires ached and it was so sad seeing him keep it to himself, holding it all in.
I loved seeing his gentle care for the capaill uisce. Through him, you get to see the other side of these deadly yet beautiful horses, you get to admire and love them because Sean’s passion makes you understand.
And let’s not forget Finn. That boy is so adorable, and I wanted to hug him and hold him and give him all the things to tinker with for the rest of his life. He truly got the big sister protective feelings out of me.
Mutt is the only other character who I felt strongly about, and for the wrong reasons. I hated him. Why do people have to be miserable pain-inflicting emotionally torturing souls? Why??? Why can’t they just be good, or be indifferent? Why do they have to destroy and hurt people so much? He got what he deserved, and I’m not the least bit remorseful.
It was slow.
This book is the definition of slow-burn, and it wasn’t the romance that was slow. Everything was, and I kind of liked that. You truly get to know Sean and Puck thanks to it’s slowness and that made it even better.
I also love that this felt more like a friendship and horse story than a romance until the very end. Sean and Puck first go from rivals, to allies, to friends, and it’s not until the end that it becomes something more.
This book is more character-driven, so I don’t really have that much to comment on about the plot. The race was interesting, but it only happened the end and I was fine with that.
The world was pretty cool. I loved the harsh beauty of Thisby; it was so similar to the frothing murderous sea horses in it’s beauty, but also in it’s deadliness. I like how Stiefvater didn’t really give us a location, or fully show us what it looked like, because it let me imagine it on my own. It felt like it could be real.
It’d be a terrifying place to live in, but it’d also be super cool. Imagine riding a capaill!
I loved the ending. It made me so happy, calm, and content. It was also sad in some ways, but beautiful and amazing in others, and I just loved it. I just wish that there was an epilogue so we could find out what happened later.
Overall, I really enjoyed this. It was very slow, and could get tiring easily, but it is worth it. This is a book about pain, hope, and passion. It’s about loving and going after what you’re passionate about no matter who tells you that you can’t. It’s beautiful, it’s whimsical, and I highly recommend it.
One sentence summary: A wonderful slowburn fantasy with great characters and terrifying horses.
Overall, 5 stars!
So, I FINALLY MADE NOVEMBER CAKES.
My picture doesn’t do this delicacy any justice. I was just too excited to spend time and make it all nice and dolled up for a picture. And I also didn’t want to add so much glaze because I felt like it would be much too sweet, even for me. So that’s why it looks a little sad.
This wasn’t the authentic recipe because I did substitute some things since I didn’t have them, and I didn’t follow the recipe to a T because I didn’t agree with the recipe on how to do some things (more on that below). But it still tasted amazing.
The dough guys. The actual pastry itself. It’s the softest most pillowy amazing cloud of air. I was thinking that this would end up tasting more like a cinnamon roll (without cinnamon of course) kind of pastry, and be a little dense. Not dense in a bad-hard-rock kind of way. I just was not expecting this airy fluffy confection.
There are two glazes that are used, and I understand why, because the pastry itself is pretty bland and not sweet at all. The first glaze is the honey one, and since I didn’t have any vanilla extract I know, the shame, I substituted it with date syrup. I know, weird substitute, but it works! I also didn’t have whipping cream, so I “made” some with milk and a little butter.
For me, the glaze was too much. I finished making the dough at night, and I added the glaze after the pastry had cooled a little. The glaze was thick and gooey and pooling everywhere, and I still had like a whole half cup left after I was done glazing everything. I didn’t want to put more on the pastries cause I was afraid it would be too deathly sweet. Next time though, I probably will add everything. It could have used some more sweetness.
For the icing, I didn’t add any butter when I made it-just sugar and water, and a splash of lemon juice and I drizzled that one top. If you look at the picture, that’s what clearish on the pastry and pooling in the plate. I warmed it before taking the picture, so it kind of melted…
I think that the original honey glaze isn’t really showing, because it’s kind of like the same color as the pastry itself, and I put it the night before. So perhaps it soaked in or something? Idk
For things that I changed in the recipe itself:
- The first instruction says to combine the yeast with the flour, salt, and sugar before adding liquids. Since it’s active dry yeast, that surprised me, and so I did what I was sure of and took a portion of the liquids out after warming them, and added a little sugar and the yeast to that so it could proof in there instead.
- Here’s the thing, salt slows down the activation of yeast, and since it’s not instant yeast, the active dry yeast needs to be proofed before using it. This recipe doesn’t give time for the yeast to activate, and I did not want to spend two hours making this just for it to be dense and flat because the yeast didn’t proof. And so, I proofed it my own way.
- Lol, the shade that Maggie threw at those who don’t have a stand mixer is hilarious. I do have a stand mixer, but I still did it by hand because I just wanted to :p
- My bedroom is an oven during the summer, so instead of following Maggie’s suggestion of the oven trick (which actually really works! I do that in the winter when it’s too cold for the dough to rise in my room), I placed it in my room under the wonderfully blazing sun.
- For the filing part, I didn’t have orange extract as I’ve already said a few hundred times, and so I put lemon juice in the butter instead. It indeed was a slimy annoying mess, and I’m disappointed, because after baking, the butter and lemon juice didn’t taste at all. I actually also sprinkled a little sugar on the top, and that disappeared as well.
- I then rolled it up, cut it up, placed it in my cupcake pan, let it rise, and then baked it. And then I added the glaze and everything, and we’ve already talked about that, so I shan’t repeat myself.
And that’s it!! I’ve compiled a document that you can download here with the original recipe, and then how I went about making it if you are interested in seeing that in a much more ordered format.
Overall, it was a fun experience, and I’m so glad it wasn’t an epic disaster! At least now I know what I’m going to change when I make it again in the future.
Have you read The Scorpio Races? What did you think? Have you tried making the November Cakes? Did you enjoy it? Did you like this review + recipe post? I’m honestly not sure if I like the way I organized the recipe section. Did you? Would you like to see more recipes on the blog? Chat with me in the comments below!!