The Scorpio Races by Maggie StiefvaterFantasy
This is, easily, the best book I've read this year, or perhaps any other. It was beautiful, haunting, lyrical. It was one of those books that make you sad that you've read it because it isn't still waiting to be read. I was in severe book hang-over for awhile--nothing else measured up. I know it won the Printz Honor but I'm surprised it doesn't have a slew of gold and silver badges on the cover.
The plot is so clever, so unique. I guarantee you've read nothing like this. Sean Kendrick is the island champion, for the past four years, of the local island horse race. Sean has ridden and trained everyone of the champions, fairy horses that eat flesh and yearn to return to the ocean. Puck is not a typical racer, mostly because she's a girl in this brutal, male-dominated sport. But she's also desperate and willing to die for her family and her horse.
The story seems to exist on its own, without the words or the book. It goes beyond merely, "I was transported" to this location. I felt as if the salt spray of that ocean crusted my arms and my ears ached from the keening of the horses. The setting is so integral to the story that it's as if Stiefvater was raised in those harsh isles. It's as if the story existed regardless of the author or readers, a story so real and true it MUST have happened in some alternate universe and Stiefvater was just lucky enough to be there to record it.
I have read Shiver by Stiefvater, but it didn't approach this level of genius. Regardless, I did just go and buy every other book by her in hopeful anticipation I will find another gem!