The Night of the Solstice

The Night of the Solstice

by L. J. Smith

Paperback(Reissue)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416998402
Publisher: Aladdin
Publication date: 05/25/2010
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 610,738
Product dimensions: 7.68(w) x 5.22(h) x 0.96(d)
Lexile: 790L (what's this?)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

L.J. Smith is the bestselling author of the Night World and The Vampire Diaries series, and has written over twenty-five books for young adults. She lives in the Bay Area of California where she enjoys reading, hiking, and traveling. Her favorite place is a cabin in Point Reyes National Park.

Read an Excerpt

THE VIXEN

The vixen was waiting.

Dappled sunlight fell around her onto the soft dirt beneath the orange trees, gilding her russet fur and striking an occasional brief gleam from her yellow eyes. She had waited here in the orchard since dawn and she was prepared to go on waiting until moonset if necessary. She required only one child, but that child must be alone, and there must be no other human on the street to bear witness.

She was very tired.

At last the front door of the house across the street opened. A ripple of tension went through the vixen’s body, starting at the tip of her tail and racing upward to set her sensitive whiskers aquiver. Her silken ears strained forward as a figure emerged from the house.

It was the young one, the smallest one. And she was alone.

The vixen’s teeth clicked together gently.

Claudia was on her way to the mailbox. It was a cool Saturday morning in December; her father was reading the newspaper, her mother was in the darkroom, Alys was playing tennis, Charles was still in bed, and Janie was—well, Janie was doing whatever it was Janie did. So Claudia, who always had free time, had been delegated to get the mail.

She never saw the animal until it was upon her.

It happened all at once, just as she was taking two handfuls of letters out of the box. It happened so quickly that she had no time to scream or even to be frightened. With one smooth motion the animal sprang at her, and she felt the brush of hard teeth against her knuckles, and then it was past her.

Claudia sat down hard and unexpectedly, biting her tongue. The pain of this brought tears to her eyes as she looked at the creature which had frightened her.

It was a fox, or at least it looked like the foxes she had seen at the exhibit in Irvine Park. A fox had jumped on her. Claudia’s first impulses were to run into the house and tell someone about it and to cry.

Two things stopped her. The first was that the fox was beautiful. Its glossy fur was red as fire and its eyes were like golden jewels. Its slim body looked lithe and strong and very, very competent. The wildness of it took her breath away.

The second thing was that the fox was trotting off with one of her letters in its mouth.

Claudia’s mouth opened and shut. She looked around the street for someone with whom to share this extraordinary sight, but there was no one. When she looked back at the fox, it had stopped and was facing her again, watching her with its golden eyes. When it saw it had her attention, it turned and walked a few steps away, looking over its shoulder.

Slowly, Claudia got up. She took a step toward the fox.

The fox took two steps away.

Claudia stopped.

The fox stopped.

“Hey,” said Claudia. She couldn’t think of anything else to say. “Hey,” she said again.

The fox dropped the letter and looked at her, panting gently.

This time it let her get within arm’s reach before it moved, and then it nipped the letter from the ground and scampered down the road.

But always it looked over its shoulder, as if to make sure she was coming.

It led her down Taft Avenue and up Center Street. It led her past the orange grove, past the quiet houses, and past the vacant lot, until it came to the hill. And then it disappeared.

There were no cross streets here, only a tall iron gate. Behind the gate was a gravel road which led up to a huge old house. Claudia hesitated, standing first on one foot, then on the other. Children weren’t allowed to go near the old house on the hill, not even on Halloween. Strange stories were told about the woman who lived there.

But the fox had Claudia’s letter, and the fox was beautiful.

Claudia squeezed between the bars of the gate.

The gravel road was long and steep as it climbed the hill. Tall trees overhung it, and Claudia had the odd feeling as she walked that the trees were closing in behind her, cutting her off from the rest of Villa Park.

Rising above the trees at the top of the hill was the house, with its massive walls of gray stone and its four tall turrets. Claudia slipped through another gate. In the distance she caught a glimpse of red, and she followed it all the way around the towering house to the back. And there was the fox, caught between Claudia and a huge wooden door. If it ran, she thought, it would have to run toward her.

But, as Claudia hurried forward to trap it, the fox darted through the half-open door into the house.

Claudia clapped her hand to her mouth. Then she crept to the door and peeked inside.

The house was dark and still. When her eyes had adjusted to the dimness she saw the fox sitting in the middle of an enormous room looking at her, the letter between its front paws.

A tingling feeling started between Claudia’s shoulder blades and spread down to her palms and up her neck. Sunlight and open air were right behind her, and for a moment she thought she would just run back down the road to Center Street.

Instead she put one foot inside the doorway.

The tingling feeling grew stronger. Outside, the wind seemed to hold its breath. Inside, the house was empty and echoing, and the air was cool.

Claudia looked at the fox and the fox looked at Claudia. And then Claudia took another step and both her feet were inside the house.

“Right!” said the fox. “Now stay in!”

© 1987 Lisa Smith

Customer Reviews

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Night of the Solstice 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good story line but a littile bit too fast paced and could use a lot of improvement. It was still a pretty decent book though.
shay16 More than 1 year ago
IF YOU LOVE MAGIC,ACTION,AND ALL AROUND FUN THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU L.J. SMITH IS AN EXCELENT AUTHOR AND PUTS HER READERS IN A TRANCE WITH MAGIC THIS IS A MUST READ BOOK........ENJOY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
bookworm211 More than 1 year ago
i just got this book and so far it is AMAZING! if you need advice on a magical, interesting, and exciting book i would totally reccomend it
Bibliotropic on LibraryThing 5 months ago
The problem with reading books intended for younger audiences is that it can be very hard to put ones mind back to the age group the book is intended for. As such, my adult mind was saying things like, "They actually expect the 'doll under the bedcovers' trick to actual fool parents?" and, "Does anyone not know how to solve that trick/riddle/game?" at regular intervals while reading Night of the Solstice.The writing style was nothing special. It didn't stand out as particularly amazing or particularly bad. However, that wasn't necessarily a drawback, as sometimes with books the writing style can actually detract from enjoyment of the story being told, whether the style is good or bad, and in this case I could just move with the words and see the story unfold instead of being wowed or disgusting with phrasing or horrible copyediting. Not sure if that's a bonus. Let's call it a neutral point, but still one worth commenting on.The story itself was quite interesting. A group of siblings discover that magic is real and that they need to save a sorceress in order to stop a bunch of people from another world punching through the fabric between worlds and causing all kinds of chaos. Not sparkling original, I'll grant you, but still fun, and there are a thousand and one ways that story can be told in an entertaining fashion. Mixing some Celtic mythology, the hidden history of this world, and playing around with some fantasy elements to make a creative and interesting setting was pretty well done here, and I like the effect. The world the children end up in isn't overly analyzed or picked apart, it isn't glorified or put down. It just is. And so much was glossed over because of the pressing needs of the questing kids, but that in itself lends a bit more magic to the Wildworld. You can't help but wonder what you're not seeing.For those who enjoy a good mid-grade fantasy, or for those who have or who know children who'd enjoy a good epic fantasy quest, I do recommend this book. For most, though, this book is a take-it-or-leave-it kind of book. It kills some time on the bus, but ultimately my life wasn't changed by reading it.Won't stop me from reading the sequel, though!
coralsiren on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I wasn't expecting to like this book, and, unsurprisingly, I didn't. The main characters are flat and underdeveloped and the story doesn't really go anywhere.
mountie9 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
The Good Stuff * Magic, sorcerers, flying serpents, talking foxes and lots of adventure! * Intriguing bad guys/gals * Wonderfully real and interesting characters * You won't want to put it down * Reminded me a little of Lion Witch and Wardrobe without the religious imagery. Not really the story but the way the children worked together. Very real sibling relationships. * Fantastic opening that really grabs your attention and draws you into the story * Looking forward to the next book in the series "Heart of Valor" * Great epic fantasy quest for the younger setThe Not so Good Stuff * A wee bit predictable, but just a wee bit * Again irritated by the fact that the parents are useless and out of touchFavorite Quotes/Passages"Yes, you! Why do you think I have wasted all this time recounting the history of Wildfolk? For my own amusement? I need help, and you four have able bodies and fair to middling minds. Or so I thought." "You are responsible for what will happen to you next, you are the creator of your own future.""Do you think Morgana would let me trade in my Kryptonite for a dirt bike?"What I Learned * That I would love the ability to talk to animals * I much prefer YA fantasy novels to those written for adultsWho should/shouldn't read * Pretty much anyone who likes to lose themselves in a story * The darkness/violence may be a little much for younger readers * Thinking my neighbors daughter is going to love this4 Dewey's
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