Solstice by Lorence Alison is a recently released YA horror novel based on the infamous Fyre Festival debacle of 2017. Alison’s novel takes place at the Solstice festival, a similarly exclusive and expensive festival, which our hero, Adri, discovers to be nothing like what was promised. When food and medical supplies run short and then bodies start turning up, the festival goes from uncomfortable to down right dangerous.
Spoiler alerts for the review below.
Solstice is a pretty fast paced novel. I read it in one day and was never once bored with it. Our main character, Adri, is a likable enough lead, and her best friend Elena also comes across as likable, if somewhat spoiled and naive. Once bodies start popping up and the main mystery kicks off, I was really intrigued, especially because Alison’s novel plays its cards close to its chest for a while, and readers aren’t sure if the deaths are the result of human foul play or something supernatural.
Eventually, the perpetrator is revealed to be a giant monster. At first, it’s hinted that the creature, called Diab, might be some sort of shape-shifter and inherently evil, an idea that had me pretty excited. With a shape-shifter, the possibilities for scares and suspense are really endless. Unfortunately, upon the big reveal, we find that Diab is actually just a giant sea monster. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a giant sea creature as much as the next monster kid, but this revelation is somewhat disappointing compared to my expectations. Not to mention, this monster is so big and ravenous that it eventually eats an entire yacht, but the first couple of victims’ bodies are discovered mostly intact. I understand Alison wrote it that way in order to keep us in suspense as to the monster’s nature, but in retrospect, the fact that there are bodies at all, let alone minimally mangled ones, makes very little sense.
Also, with the reveal of the monster, we also get the reveal of the human big bad, Captain Marx. Marx set the whole sham festival up – knowing there was a monster on the island – in order to get a big insurance payout when the festival failed and people died. Suddenly, I felt like I was in a Scooby Doo episode. Captain Marx even gives us the cartoon’s typical big info dump explanation, stopping just short of referring to our heroes as “meddling kids.” Besides being super cheesy, this all just seems a little far fetched. There have got to be better ways to scam insurance companies than banking on a legendary monster to do your dirty work for you.
Solstice is a fun novel, and I enjoyed reading it. If you can get past how silly it eventually gets, you’ll enjoy it too. It’s a fun, light summer read, if not particularly astounding or memorable.