The Solstice Conspiracy by Lee Rawn
Publisher: Lightspeed Publishing LLC (October 31, 2010)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc., Barnes & Noble, Audible.com
The Solstice Conspiracy follows Beth Brinson, a young girl who takes on the task of restoring a withering garden. She discovers that, although her steps are small, her efforts open the door for renewal. Nature readily responds.
Without her knowledge, her project ignites a despondent fairy population with much needed vitality. A cautious cooperation unfolds between human and fairies. However, not everyone is pleased with this development. Although written for a middle-school audience, the story has attracted readers of all ages.
Five—Humor the Kid
The business of settling in continued. With her father’s help, Beth painted her bedroom a soft sage green. Now that her furniture was in place, her room looked inviting.
Turning to the attic, she scrubbed the walls and floor. When the floor was dry, she positioned a comfortable chair below the window. Setting her bookshelf beside the chair, she unpacked her favorite books. Among them were old volumes, traditional tales of adventure and magic, which had belonged to her grandmother Margaret. A light with feelings is magic too, she thought, and it happened in the real world.
Beth walked down to the birches several times during the week, hoping to see the light again, but without success. Nothing could be found to prove that the light had ever existed.
Rain tapered to a drizzle. Doesn’t it just figure, Beth thought, squelching through the sodden grass, after a week of sunshine, it rains on Saturday. Clouds covered the sky with a leaden cast, promising another downpour.
It had been decided that Beth and Chris would be in charge of yard cleanup, while their parents tackled repairs on the house.
“If it starts raining again, I’m quitting,” she said.
“Then let’s get started.” Chris grabbed a garbage bag. “I don’t want this yard to eat up all my Saturdays. We’ll start with the small stuff.”
The rain held off and they worked steadily for a few hours.
“It’s rotten luck having to clean the yard,” Chris said, stuffing trash into a bag.
“I’d rather clean the yard than sand floors.” Beth dragged a heavy bag struggling over some rough ground. A piece of glass cut through the plastic.
“Good point, but look at the size of this yard. It’s a huge job. And what are we supposed to do with all the big stuff, like that old truck?”
An abandoned truck poked through a clump of bushes. The hood was missing, and a small tree twisted around the motor in an effort to reach sunlight.
“Mom and Dad will probably hire someone to tow it away,” Beth said. With effort, she hoisted her bag onto the growing pile behind the garage.
Satisfied with their progress, they sat on an old potting bench to take a break. Beth looked over at Chris, struggling with an inner debate. Sometimes he could be hard to talk to, but she just couldn’t let her thought go.
“What?” he asked, feeling her eyes upon him.
“I think the light we saw was magical.”
“Don’t start with the light again.”
“It wasn’t just a light, and I know you felt something.”
Chris shrugged. “All right, I did notice something, but that doesn’t lead me to magic.”
“You think a car bumper with feelings makes sense?”
Chris threw her a “humor the little kid” look and stood. “Let’s do a little more and then pack it in.”
They wandered farther down the slope, stopping by a flat truck tire on a rusted rim. Rolling it up the hill proved more difficult than expected. Wet grass and decaying leaves were slick from the rain, causing them to slip and slide.
Chris set the tire on its side and knelt on the ground. “There’s something here.” Digging into the dead grass, he seized a clump of sod and tugged. It lifted easily, revealing a stone step.
Beth leaned forward and reached for the next step, feeling its hardness beneath the grass. Gradually, with fingers scraped and caked with dirt, they unearthed seven stone steps.
“These stairs were built a long time ago. The mortar between the stones is crumbling badly,” Chris said, crushing a chunk between his fingers. He looked at Beth and seeing disappointment, started to laugh. “Were you expecting a fairy mound or a secret door?”
“Well, no, but wouldn’t it be great?”
“You read too many stories,” he said. “The stairs are probably part of a rock garden.” He stood up. “Let’s quit and get some lunch. I’m starving.”
“I see you’ve found the old rock stairs,” said a voice.
Startled, the children spun around to see who could have spoken. Peering over the hedge from the neighboring yard stood a very small woman wearing a very large hat. The brim veiled her eyes, but the children could feel her gazing intently. She had a round weathered face and an easy smile. “Please, come over,” she called, waving.
As they drew near, Chris muttered, “She’s not much taller than you. I’ll bet she’s the fairy queen.”
“Cut it out, Chris.”
“I’ve been looking forward to meeting you,” the woman said. “It’s good to have neighbors again. My name is Mrs. Peasgood,” she said with a nod.
“I’m Chris, and this is my sister, Beth.”
Usually Beth felt shy around new people, but Mrs. Peasgood had an enchanting smile. Beth found herself unexpectedly at ease in her presence.
“I’m delighted to see you working in the yard. Did you know that at one time, this yard had many gardens and lawns? The flowers were so exceptional that people traveled from great distances to admire them.”
“You wouldn’t know that to look at it now,” Chris said. “What happened?”
“I’m just about to go in for lunch. Why don’t you join me for tea and sandwiches, and I’ll tell you about the garden.”
“That sounds good,” Chris nodded. “What do you think, Beth?”
“Okay, but we’ll need a few minutes to wash up.” She held up her dirt encrusted hands.
You might want to check with your parents. They may already have lunch waiting for you. Let me know if you can’t come. Otherwise, I’ll see you shortly.”
Beth burst into the kitchen. “Mom, Dad, we’ve just met the lady next door. She is very nice and has invited us over for lunch.”
“We met Mrs. Peasgood a few days ago while you were at school,” their mother said. “I think you’ll enjoy your visit. She is a very interesting person.”
Excerpt from The Solstice Conspiracy by Lee Rawn
Reprinted by permission of the author and publisher.
“Once she settles into the flow of the story, Rawn’s visual descriptions are gorgeous and immersive. The book is heavily centered on the natural world, and she illuminated the detail and beauty in what most writers would dismiss as background. This expertly painted setting surrounds the reader with a realm of magic.” A. Arendt, Word Vagabond
“The Solstice Conspiracy is a fantasy novel for young readers that breathes new life into the old idea of fairies living at the bottom of the garden. Although it draws a lot from the tradition, it is firmly placed in the present, meaning that readers will be better able to identify with the challenges faced by the protagonist, Beth, and her brother, Chris.” Tara Calaby, Agrippina Legit
About the Author
Lee Rawn, author of the novel “The Solstice Conspiracy”, lives in the interior of British Columbia, Canada. There she has found a wealth of writing inspiration from the mountainous terrain to the diverse citizens populating the area. She is known for writing and performing comedic short stories, has taught numerous workshops covering many aspects of the writing process, and has been actively involved with the Shuswap Writers Festival for many years.
To view her artwork and read her most recent blog posts, visit leerawn.com.