Bonnie Elizabeth is the author of over a dozen paranormal mysteries and contemporary fantasy novels. The Frost Witch sage combines her love of cats and magic.

For many years Bonnie blogged as her Siamese cat before turning to writing fiction novels. She is a current member of the Cat Writer's Association. She is currently at work on a paranormal women's fiction series, which, naturally, includes cats.

She can be reached on her website

Shadows of Solstice by Bonnie Elizabeth

It began with a fire. It would end with a battle.

Kicked out of multiple schools, Mina Andresen's future depends upon graduating from tiny Havestad Lutheran College on Minnesota's north shore. While not her ideal situation, her classes interest her, her roommate is pleasant, and life holds promise.

Then the local church burns down the weekend before finals, on the Festival of St. Lucia.

Suddenly, the nights get darker, shadows move eerily, and Mina imagines she sees monsters. When people start dying, Mina must confront the fact that she's not just imaging things.

In order to save her fellow students, the local townsfolk, and possibly even the world, Mina must step up and accept a responsibility larger than anything she ever imagined. Even harder, she must believe in herself.



  • "…atmospheric and moody with tension that pulls you through from the first page to the final confrontation…doesn't disappoint."

    – Reader review
  • "A truly shiver-inducing read!"

    – Reader review
  • "Love, love, LOVE this book! Great characters. Creepy monsters. Interesting setting. What's not to love? Do yourself a favor and READ this one!"

    – Reader review



Sometimes there's a reason for superstitions. Like legends, there can be kernels of truth hidden in amongst the tales. Festivals, particularly religious festivals are often shrouded in rituals that few people today understand the meaning of. And yet, to ignore such festivals can mean asking for punishment from a displeased god who won't be ignored.

I believe that's exactly what happened at Havestad Lutheran College in—where else?—Havestad, Minnesota. You probably haven't heard of it. No one has. I hadn't, not until I was being packed off to the college due to my disciplinary probation status at Sankta Lucia University in Dubuque. Something about peddling drugs that were put in the St. Lucia Day buns a club sold at the craft fair my sophomore year.

Like I'm supposed to police what people do with their drugs. It was so unfair. But so was getting kicked out of Pacific Lutheran University. You can see a pattern here? Clearly, my family thought I needed to go to a Lutheran school in order to… I have no idea what it was supposed to do because a Lutheran school isn't exactly like going to boot camp or anything.

But my folks were set upon the whole Mina Andresen will go to a Lutheran college or university and get her degree in business and come home to work with Mom at the family business. A business I had no interest in. I do not want to work in property management or the spin-off idea Mom thought would be great for me. Property staging. Ugh.

Of course, after a few days in Havestad, I was longing for the relative comfort and warmth of my home down in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Believe me, comfort and warmth are not exactly the way I normally describe my home, but Havestad is north of Duluth. I didn't even know there was anything north of Duluth except maybe Canada and the Arctic Circle.

I have to admit that I might be pushing it if I say that Havestad is "anything." I mean it's slightly bigger than Two Harbors, Minnesota, but that's only because the college fills out the town population.

This was the idea when my family went searching for a school to send me to. They wanted something that wasn't close to a big city. Okay, Duluth is barely an hour away, but in winter the highway isn't the sort of place you want to be driving on regularly if you can avoid it. My car isn't exactly brand new, doesn't have all-wheel drive, and has so many lights glowing on the dash that I worry it's going to come to a halt somewhere along a stretch of highway and I'll end up stuck in some town worthy of a Stephen King novel.

Two Harbors caters to a certain type of tourist with a Burger King, a Comfort Inn, and other big name places around. Lots of hiking and scenery for folks who don't mind a chillier climate while vacationing. I can't say it's relaxing if you're going to spend your time hiking and possibly fishing, though others might disagree.

Havestad is further north and touristy, but in a different way. At some point, the town council had this brilliant idea to make it a cute little movie-ready Scandinavian town with gingerbread trim on the shops and no big name restaurant chains within the city limits. The grocery store was off the main street though it, too, was dressed in pretty colored Scandinavian wood finery.

While Havestad might be hopping in the summer, while school was in session, I can't say the word hopping was appropriate. Chilly, gray days where you feel an uncomfortable nip of cold on your nose starting in October keeps a lot of the tourists at home. Christmas attracts more people, but they're mostly from states further south where snow in December is less common.

From the first of November, wreaths begin decorating doors. By the middle of November, street lamps have ribbons and bows and the lights start going up on the shops, mostly multicolored twinkle lights. At some point, a tree appears.

Through all this, as a student, I'm supposed to be studying and going on about my business while trying to keep the radiator in my room from overheating me and my roommate or freezing us out.

Saturday before finals is the college's Lucia Bride Ceremony. I had heard of the festival at PLU, but managed to ignore it. I apparently helped out one of the campus groups at Sankta Lucia University when I was there by selling them a bit of this and a bit of that to add to their special yeasty buns to make them very special.

No Lucia Bride for St. Lucy's that year. Oops. My bad. Or not. It's not like I knew they were going to sell to the public. I thought it was, like, for a dorm party or something.

Considering each place I got kicked out of had me ending up in a worse place—face it, Tacoma may not be great, but the weather is stunning compared to the Midwest. Yeah, it rains, but it's not so cold. Give me rain and clouds any day over the chill of winter.

Dubuque may not be anyone's idea of fun, but at least there's a city there, uninspiring though I found it.

Now, here I was up on the North Shore and I got clouds, more clouds, winter, and isolation. Go me.

I can't imagine a worse place, but I'm sure if the fifth level of hell appears on Earth my parents will find an appropriate Lutheran school there and send me to it. And because I am not independently wealthy and am disinclined to find a job just yet, I had to go where they sent me. There was also the threat of being disinherited. The family might not be rich, but I expect to get something for the years I had to put up with my mom hovering over me and my dad scolding me regularly about stupid things like a bit of pot and staying out all night.

So there I was, living in an old, crumbly dorm in Havestad, being told I was lucky to have a window that faced the lake, though you couldn't see it for the trees. Still, I'd done fairly well that semester.

I was counting on a solid B from economics. I might even squeak out an A in my business law class. There's an irony there if I ever heard one, but apparently, all the practice I'd had in breaking laws was coming in handy. I had to do well on the final though, otherwise, it'd probably be a B as well. I could pass even if I blew off the final entirely, but I'd never had an A and I was kind of hoping for one.

Like most students preparing for finals, the Lucia Bride festival wasn't really something I was ecstatic about.

"I'm going down to the little fair they have in town," my roommate, Jen said that morning.

It was only nine, earlier than I'm usually up on the weekend, but I wanted to go over everything I needed to study for, or at least economics, which was the final that fell on Monday.

Jen was standing near the closet in our room. I had been stuck in one of the corner rooms, which are odd-shaped things with closets that stuck out of the wall like a wardrobe, giving us a narrow sort of entry hall. Dressers lined the wall closest to the main part of the room and we had just enough space for a small refrigerator and a little microwave on a cart on one side and a loveseat on the other. Our desks sat next to each other across the way, facing a window. A five-foot-high room divider with shelves on either side of it gave us each a bit of privacy and a place for books and other crap. Our beds were tucked off into their separate wings, a narrow little hall just long enough for a twin bed and a walk space next to it. This was the joy of the back corner room. I heard that the room in this spot on the fifth floor had ceilings that angled down and if you didn't walk close enough to the bed, you'd hit your head.

Rumor had it, a girl had knocked herself out.

The wardrobes and drawers had clearly been built into the walls around 1970 with their shiny finished pine wood. The floors had been updated this century and the white computer desks were probably turn of the century things with a few drawers and a pullout shelf for a keyboard.

The building is old enough that the rooms always smell old, that sort of musty smell that seems to get into the very bones of the place and doesn't leave. It also had a hint of something like rosemary in the background, but I could never quite place it. It wasn't a cleanser smell—that was bleach or chemical. This was like a memory of an herb that might have been hung in the building some time long ago.

The radiator between my bed and the desk clicked on with a harsh clank and snort. I always expected puffs of mist to come floating out, but none ever did.

The icy gray skies outside didn't look promising. The grayness made the dark pine of the trees looked nearly black. Safety lamps placed strategically around campus glowed yellow in the morning gloom. A perfect day for studying, because who'd want to do anything else?

If my life wasn't riding on staying in school and graduating, I'd be doing serious drugs. More serious than those I did in Dubuque which I had thought was the near edge of hell. Havestad was one stop closer.

"Looks cold," I said.

Jen laughed. "It's always cold. Get used to it. The best stuff is always out in the morning. We can get stop at the Moo for coffee."

That drew me. The cafeteria coffee had to be made by someone who had never drank a cup in their life. Either that or they hated students with a passion. Jen had a Keurig, but I only had the K cups I could purchase at the local grocery store. The selection was limited. My parents didn't trust me with a credit card so I couldn't order any online.

The Moo was short for Moo and Brew, the local coffee shop. They sold ice cream in the summer as well as coffee. Ice cream sales weren't popular enough for them to stay open in the afternoon in winter, though I had a feeling that as this was a festival weekend, they'd make an exception. It seems they did for certain holidays.

"I'm always up for coffee," I said. I pulled out my winter boots, not because there was snow on the ground, but because they kept my feet warm. I had on socks so heavy I had to twist my feet just so to force them into my boots.

Jen waited, hands in her pockets. She always looked fashionable and today was no exception with her dark black boots, skinny fleece-lined jeans, and a cream turtleneck with candy canes on the neck. Her heavy jacket was unzipped and came down to her hips.

I am always amazed at how blue her eyes are. Her hair is almost black and she swears it's natural despite her fair skin that burns easily in the sunshine. It's one reason she's pleased enough to be in Havestad. There's so little sun she doesn't have to worry that much.

I, on the other hand, don't burn easily. I have lighter hair, though not blonde, and brown eyes, and I could lay out on the beach in Florida all day and maybe get lightly pink. I'm lucky, I know. I'd love to test out my luck on a regular basis someplace warm, but at the rate I'm going, it won't happen until I'm too old to enjoy it. Of course, at least then I won't worry about wrinkles because I'll already have so many a couple of more won't count.

"Ready," I said, pulling my heavy blue and gray coat out of the closet. Mine fell to just below my butt. I was hoping for a long knee-length coat for Christmas because my legs, even clad in long underwear and blue jeans, got cold on days like today.

Jen smiled and we hurried out. Across the hall, our neighbor, Kennedy, waved shyly at us as she returned from the bathroom, the narrow plank pine floor squeaking like an army of mice. Kennedy isn't exactly shy, but she's quiet. She was still in her Wizard of Oz nightshirt over her flying monkey leggings. Naturally, she had on fuzzy red slippers. Kennedy has a thing for The Wizard of Oz.

Jen and I hurried past her with Jen just saying, "Moo," which told Kennedy all she needed to know. This has to be the only school where you can moo at another woman and she doesn't get mad.

The walls of our hall were paneled halfway up with shiny cream paint above. At one time, I'd heard there was wallpaper. Now, at least the cream paint kept the hall from being completely gloomy though it did remind me of a horror movie set when I wandered out to use the toilet late at night.

As if my thoughts brought it, I heard a toilet flush in the floor's large communal bathroom. A shower started moments later. I didn't hear anyone yell "flush" so chances were there was only one person in there. The building is so old that if you flush the toilet, it uses all the cold water and the person in the shower will get scalded.

You'd think with all the updates they had to do to get internet connected throughout the place and keep the electrical modernized to handle today's computer equipment that they could have updated the plumbing, too. But perhaps scalding girls in a shower isn't considered too much of a problem for the school.

Five other women were already in the main floor lounge. Two were clearly dressed to go outside, waiting for companions. Jen and I waved. It always pays to be friendly.

The large double doors to the front were stained a darker wood than the floor and held clear stained glass that formed an angel. The lead between the glass was heavy and had darkened from silver to black with flecks of bronze. Gray light played on the floor in front of us. A shadow moved in front of the door, probably a student.

However, when Jen and I exited the building, the only people were far across the gray cobbled court, too far to have caused a shadow. I shivered in the sudden cold. It could have been a premonition, but back then I didn't believe in such things any more than I believed in superstitions.