I am not that familiar with the Kelpies or other water horse folklore so I don’t know how much of this story is based on folklore or just the writers imagination but man eating water horses, I’m in! The setting for the story is an island named Thisby and the book does a great job getting that small town feel, where some people can’t wait to get off of the island and others could not picture any other life. The islands economy is made up of fishing, horses, and tourism from the Scorpio Races. Most of the island has lost someone to the deadly horses or the draw of the mainland. This is a story about racing man eating horses but it is not a face paced or action packed story. It is a slow burn that gives you time to feel the small town-ness of the characters and life during the Scorpio Races when tourists flood the town. It lets you feel the dread the island has for the horses and the dread some of the islanders feel about being trapped in the small town.
The story centers around Sean Patrick who a four time winner of the Scorpio Races and the “horse whisperer” of the island. He has a special bond with is horse Corr and wants a life where he owns the horse and can have is own stables. He was orphaned when his mother left him for the mainland and his father was killed during the Scorpio Race race when he was young. The other is Puck Connolly who was orphaned along with her two brothers after her parents were killed by the horses on a fishing trip. Her brother is leaving her and her younger brother for the mainland so she enters dangerous race in a bid to make him stay. She cannot back out when she later learns they are going to loose their house and needs the prize money.
The story unfolds slowly as they both prepare for the race, deal with their daily lives, and grow closer to each other. The tension builds as the book gets closer to the end and to the race. I don’t want to give any of the ending away because from the race to the end of the book is a great payoff for the slow atmosphere building. If you love action packed stories this is not for you but it has a very satisfying ending and the last paragraph is heartbreaking.