Winter has always been a time for storytelling. There’s just something about the snowy weather that makes people want to gather around a fire and tell tales. For some, this cozy time of year conjures up images of merrymaking and light-hearted stories that distract from the cold outside. Others prefer to think about what might be lurking outside in the blizzard, or what people cooped up inside all winter might be driven to. If you fall into the latter category, then this list is for you. We’ve rounded up seven winter stories that will make you want to huddle a little closer to the fire.
1.The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson
Hailing from Denmark, Anderson was no stranger to the long winter. The Snow Queen tells the story of two children, Gerda and Kay. Kay has the misfortune to get a shard of a magical mirror stuck in his eye and his heart. The mirror distorts and corrupts all that is beautiful, and when lodged in a heart, it freezes it as cold as ice. Kay’s nature takes an ugly turn, and he is then enchanted by the Snow Queen, who takes him away to be a captive in her ice palace far to the north.
Gerda feels for Kay in spite of his previous bad behavior, and she sets out on an epic quest to rescue him from the Snow Queen. Her magical journey takes up most of the story as Anderson paints one beautiful picture after another of wintry landscapes, enchanted gardens, and talking animals. The evil of the Snow Queen and the message about discovering the evil in yourself, make this a chilling and magical winter read.
2.The Shining by Stephan King
Hailed as “…the best supernatural novel in a hundred years,” the Shining was an instant classic. It tells the story of Jack Torrence, who takes a job as a winter caretaker at the secluded Overlook Hotel in the high Rockies of Colorado. King makes the reader feel the claustrophobia as winter sets in and traps the Torrence family in the hotel with its malevolent ghostly residents. But which is worse, being trapped with ghosts all winter or being trapped with your own demons?
3.Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Twelve-year-old Oskar’s life has never been easy. His parents are separated, and he is bullied at school. To amuse himself, Oskar has taken an interest in murders, crime, and forensics. Oskar’s life changes forever when a mysterious girl named Eli moves in next door. He can’t help but notice that her appearance has coincided with several brutal murders. Eli is no normal twelve -year -old, she’s a centuries-old vampire, turned at a young age and dependent on a human caretaker who kills for her.
As Oskar and Eli become friends, they both reveal the horrible details of their lives and form a fascinating bond. The dark, frigid Swedish winter is the perfect backdrop for this gruesome tale. The book was a best-seller when it was released in 2004 and has spawned two movie adaptations, one in Swedish and one in English.
4.Wendigo by Vaughn C. Hardacker
John Bear grew up listening to his father tell stories about the fearsome Wendigo. An evil spirit of the winter woods that feasts on and possesses humans. John doesn’t believe in the stories until he finds a man dead in the Maine woods with a hole where his heart should be and surrounded by footprints that can’t be human. Now John has to convince other members of their remote outpost that the Wendigo is hunting them. But how do you catch a monster that can look like anyone? Wendigo will make you feel the cold, and the isolation as a cast of interesting characters fights against the elements and the supernatural.
5.The Terror by Dan Simmons
The Terror is a fictionalized account of Captain Sir John Franklin’s real-life arctic expedition. The crew of the HMS Terror set out in 1845 to explore the Northwest Passage, but the ice closes in trapping the ship. Left with no option other than to attempt to hunt and live off the ice, the crew finds itself battling disease, hunger, and deadly cold.
As desperation takes hold, personal hatreds come to the fore. To top it off, the crew are being hunted by a mysterious monster that kills in the dark. As they are picked off one by one, they struggle to band together against the malevolent force, while also contending with mutiny and cannibalism.
The Terror is especially chilling because of its connection to real-life events. Most of the characters are based on the real crew of the ill-fated expedition. The wreck of the HMS Terror was recently discovered, but the fate of the crew is not fully known.
6.The Valencourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories edited by Tara Moore
Christmas may have come and gone, but it’s never too late to enjoy these wintry ghost stories. Collected from 19th-century periodicals, this book features stories of ghosts, corpses, and creepy tapestries. Good for a cold winter’s night by the fire, or for traumatizing your children (hey it’s culture). These are the types of stories that probably inspired Dicken’s to write The Christmas Carol, but this collection is less full of Christmas cheer.
7.The Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin
The best selling book series that inspired Game of Thrones is set in a land where winters can last decades. This book series isn’t finished yet, but it is still a great read for wintertime, especially if you enjoy grimdark type fantasy stories. The White Walkers are some of the creepiest winter demon’s ever created, and the sordid political drama will keep you occupied until spring.