The summer solstice is the longest day of the year, or in other words, the twenty-four hour period with the greatest amount of sunlight. This year in the northern hemisphere the summer solstice will take place on this coming Saturday, June 21st, and in the southern hemisphere on December 21st. Just think of all those hours of natural light to read by in a comfy hammock! This definitely calls for a reading list.
The roots of summer solstice celebrations are pagan and over time also became associated with the Christian St. John’s Day. Currently, the summer solstice is celebrated by many, including practitioners of Wicca and also residents of northern Europe, where it is a secular festivity. The summer solstice is particularly important in the Scandinavian and Baltic countries. In Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania the summer solstice, known as Midsummer, is even a public holiday occurring on June 24th.
There are several young adult novels concerning or including the summer solstice, in particular a few which have been published fairly recently. The following are a sampling. Grab one this Saturday, go relax in the sunshine and enjoy!
Shadow of the Mark by Leigh Fallon
In the first book of the Carrier trilogy, Carrier of the Mark, American teen Megan, who has moved with her family to a small town in Ireland, learns that she is actually the human representation of air, one of the four elements. In book two of the series, Shadow of the Mark, Megan and her boyfriend Adam, who is the element of water, and his siblings Ãine (Earth) and RÃan (Fire) must get themselves ready for the summer solstice Alignment, a rite in which the four elements become one. There are various complications in the novel, including the fact that any union between Megan and Adam may end up killing him. There are also Druids and knights who are sometimes of assistance to the four teens and sometimes in conflict with each other. Megan herself must decide to take action if things are going to come to a positive resolution in this suspenseful paranormal romance.
Spellbinding by Maya Gold
Although she has a best friend, sixteen-year-old Abby has felt invisible most of her life. Through a genealogy assignment in history class, she learns that she is a descendant of Sarah Good, who was branded a witch and hanged in the seventeenth century. In the course of her research, Abby visits the town of Salem, Massachusetts, where she finds a part-time job and a boy to whom she is incredibly attracted. She develops the powers of telekinesis and fire-conjuring, both frightening and thrilling to her. She begins using spells to strike back at the classmates who have bullied her. Abby eventually realizes that she must choose whether to retain her powers or her humanity. The summer solstice plays an important role in the plot of this mix of magic, romance and the paranormal.
Solstice by P.J. Hoover
Piper Snow is a teen in Austin, Texas, living through a Global Heating Crisis in a dystopian future in which each day is scorchingly hot. The heat bubbles over the world’s cities decrease available resources and increase crime for those who do not live under protective domes. Piper and her mother have a gift for cultivating plants, helping them to provide sustenance in this dire situation. On Piper’s 18th birthday several unusual things arrive, including a mysterious gift from an unknown giver, two good-looking guys and word that her father has located her and her mother. From the bad boy of her two new suitors, Piper learns that the Greek gods are still on earth and below it, in the Underworld, which she begins to explore. It becomes apparent that Piper may play a part in the climate change that is larger than she imagined.
Betwixt by Tara Bray Smith
High school senior Ondine and her best friend, Morgan, have always felt that they were different to others, but could never pinpoint why. Nix, a newcomer to Portland, Oregon, where the two girls live, feels the same about himself. At a summer solstice party in the wild to which the three are invited, they learn that they are actually fay, or changelings. This means that they have fairy blood but mortal bodies and will soon return to their spirit homes. Each teen reacts differently to this revelation about their true natures, whether rejoicing in it, feeling the calm of answered questions, or simply rejecting the news. However, the teens come together to attempt to save a human from the destructive will of a dangerous fairy.
– Anna Dalin, currently listening to A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness