Every November, on a small, rocky island probably somewhere off the coast of Ireland, people race water horses. These are magnificent, fierce, bloodthirsty creatures, and participants in the races are fighting not only win but to survive – to not be dragged into the ocean, or get your arm bitten off by a competitor’s horse. Or by your own for that matter.

It’s about the water horses and the islanders’ love/hate relationship with them. It’s about barely making a living, and about sacrifices to get to do what you love. It’s also about roots vs opportunities. Thisby is a small island that doesn’t have much of a future to offer to young people. It’s rustic and traditional – which is great if roots and tradition and blood ties are your thing, but not so great if you want things in your life such as rock music and job opportunities.

I can’t really say what made this book so great. It’s intelligent, somehow. Beautiful and vivid; pared down, spartan, but poetic.