Winter is here! While the biting wind is whipping against the window panes, there is nothing more comforting than curling up under a huge blanket and reading chillingly beautiful stories. I don’t know about you, but this time of year is perfect for reading books with haunting tales and ghostly happenings. Keep reading to see TWENTY books that we recommend this Winter.
20 Hauntingly Beautiful Books To Read In The Winter
1. The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse / / Link
Nothing is as it seems . . .
France, 1928. It is ten years since the Great War ended, but Freddie Watson is still haunted by the loss of his beloved brother.
Driving through the foothills of the Pyrenees, his car spins off the road in a snowstorm. He takes refuge in an isolated village and there meets the captivating Fabrissa. They spend the night talking of love and loss and war.
By daybreak, Fabrissa has vanished and Freddie has discovered that he alone holds the key to an ancient mystery, one which leads him deep into the mountains and to a cave that conceals a shocking secret . . .
2. Midnight In Everwood By M.A. Kuzinar // Link
In the darkness of night, magic awaits…
Marietta Stelle longs to be a ballerina but, as Christmas draws nearer, her dancing days are numbered – she must marry and take up her place in society in the New Year. But, when a mysterious toymaker, Dr Drosselmeier, purchases a neighbouring townhouse, it heralds the arrival of magic and wonder in Marietta’s life.
After Drosselmeier constructs an elaborate theatrical set for her final ballet performance on Christmas Eve, Marietta discovers it carries a magic all of its own – a magic darker than anyone could imagine. As the clock chimes midnight, Marietta finds herself transported from her family’s ballroom to a frozen sugar palace, silent with secrets, in a forest of snow-topped fir trees. She must find a way to return home before she’s trapped in Everwood’s enchanting grip forever.
3. For The Wolf by Hannah Witten // Link
THE FIRST DAUGHTER IS FOR THE THRONE.
THE SECOND DAUGHTER IS FOR THE WOLF.
As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose – to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in order to save her kingdom. Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can’t control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can’t hurt those she loves. Again.
But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn’t learn how to use it, the Wilderwood – and her world – will be lost forever.
4. A Wolf For A Spell By Karah Sutton // Link
Since she was a pup, Zima has been taught to fear humans–especially witches–but when her family is threatened, she has no choice but to seek help from the witch Baba Yaga.
Baba Yaga never does magic for free, but it just so happens that she needs a wolf’s keen nose for a secret plan she’s brewing . . . Before Zima knows what’s happening, the witch has cast a switching spell and run off into the woods, while Zima is left behind in Baba Yaga’s hut–and Baba Yaga’s body!
Meanwhile, a young village girl named Nadya is also seeking the witch’s help, and when she meets Zima (in Baba Yaga’s form), they discover that they face a common enemy. With danger closing in, Zima must unite the wolves, the witches and the villagers against an evil that threatens them all.
5. The Winter of The Witch By Katherine Arden // Link
One girl can make a difference…
Moscow is in flames, leaving its people searching for answers – and someone to blame. Vasilisa, a girl with extraordinary gifts, must flee for her life, pursued by those who blame their misfortune on her magic.
Then a vengeful demon returns, stronger than ever. Determined to engulf the world in chaos, he finds allies among men and spirits. Mankind and magical creatures alike find their fates resting on Vasya’s shoulders.
But she may not be able to save them all.
6. White Is For Witching By Helen Oyeyemi // Link
High on the cliffs near Dover, the Silver family is reeling from the loss of Lily, mother of twins Eliot and Miranda, and beloved wife of Luc. Miranda misses her with particular intensity.
Their mazy, capricious house belonged to her mother’s ancestors, and to Miranda, newly attuned to spirits, newly hungry for chalk, it seems they have never left.
Forcing apples to grow in winter, revealing and concealing secret floors, the house is fiercely possessive of young Miranda . . .
7. The Mistletoe Bride And Other Haunting Tales By Kate Mosse // Link
I hear someone coming.
It has happened before. I pause and listen but no longer hear anything. I sigh. As always, hope is snatched away before it can take root. And so then, as always, I am carried back to that first December so very long ago…
Rooted in the elemental landscapes of Sussex, Brittany and the Languedoc, here are tales of ghosts and spirits seeking revenge, grief-stricken women and haunted men coming to terms with their destiny.
8. The Wolves of Midwinter By Anne Rice // LINK
It is the beginning of December and it is cold and grey outside. In the stately flickering hearths of the grand mansion of Nideck Point, oak fires are burning. The Morphenkinder are busy getting ready for the ancient pagan feast of midwinter. Everyone is invited, including some of their own who do not wish them well…
Reuben Golding, the newest of the Morphenkinder, is struggling with his new existence as a Man Wolf, struggling to learn to control his desires and bloodthirsty urges. His pure, luminous girlfriend Laura seems all set to join him in this new way of life, but Reuben is not at all certain he will love her if she becomes as he is. Beyond the mansion, the forest echoes with howling winds, which carry with them tales of a strange nether world, and of spirits centuries old who possess their own fantastical ancient histories and taunt with their dark, magical powers.
As preparations for the feast gather pace, destiny continues to hound Reuben, not least in the form of a strange, tormented ghost who appears at the window, unable to speak. But he is not alone: before the festivities are over, choices must be made choices which will decide the fate of the Morphenkinder for ever.
9. The Whitby Witches by Robin Jarvis // LINK
hen orphans Ben and Jennet arrive in the seaside town of Whitby to stay with Alice Boston, they have no idea what to expect. A lively 92-year-old, Miss Boston is unlike any other foster mother they’ve known.
Ben is gifted with ‘the sight’, which gives him the power to see things invisible to other mortals. He soon encounters the mysterious fisher folk who live under the cliffs and discovers that Alice and her friends are not quite what they seem.
But a darkness is stalking the streets of Whitby, bringing with it fear and death. Could it be a ghost from the Abbey? Or a beast from hell? Unless the truth is uncovered, the town and all its inhabitants is doomed.
10. A Spell Of Winter by Helen Dunmore // LINK
Cathy and her brother, Rob, don’t know why they have been abandoned by their parents. Alone in their grandfather’s decaying country house, they roam the wild grounds freely with minds attuned to the rural wilderness. Lost in their own private world, they seek and find new lines to cross.
But as the First World War draws closer, crimes both big and small threaten the delicate refuge they have built. Cathy will do anything to protect their dark Eden from anyone, or anything, that threatens to destroy it.
11. The Quiet At The End Of The World by Lauren James // LINK
How far would you go to save those you love? Lowrie and Shen are the youngest people on the planet after a virus caused global infertility.
Closeted in a pocket of London and doted upon by a small, ageing community, the pair spend their days mudlarking and looking for treasure – until a secret is uncovered that threatens not only their family but humanity’s entire existence.
Now Lowrie and Shen face an impossible choice: in the quiet at the end of the world, they must decide what to sacrifice to save the whole human race…
12. Thin Air By Michelle Paver // LINK
The Himalayas, 1935.
Kangchenjunga. The sacred mountain. Biggest killer of them all.
Five Englishmen set out to conquer it. But courage can only take them so far. And the higher they climb, the darker it gets.
13. The Ghost Stories of M.R. James // LINK
The Ghost Stories of M. R. James collects the tales that best illustrate his quiet mastery of the ghost story form.
Running through each of these stories is a slowly escalating sense of unease and dread, which ultimately shifts into the wildly uncanny.
James characters exist in a world of ancient objects whose atrocious histories begin to repeat when they are disturbed, and the blinkered repression common to James’ narratives only amplifies the shock of the spectral appearance.
14. Entwined by Heather Dixon // LINK
Just when Azalea should feel that everything is before her–beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing–it’s taken away. All of it. And Azalea is trapped. The Keeper understands. He’s trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. So he extends an invitation.
Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest, but there is a cost. The Keeper likes to keep things. Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.
15. Snow & Rose By Emily Winfield Martin // LINK
*Top Tip: This book is illustrated so get a physical copy to truly appreciate its beauty!*
Snow and Rose didn’t know they were in a fairy tale. People never do. . . .
Once, they lived in a big house with spectacular gardens and an army of servants.
Once, they had a father and mother who loved them more than the sun and moon.
But that was before their father disappeared into the woods and their mother disappeared into sorrow.
This is the story of two sisters and the enchanted woods that have been waiting for them to break a set of terrible spells.
16. Frost Blood By Elly Blake // LINK
Enter a world where fire and ice are mortal enemies…
Ruby is a Fireblood. In a land ruled by frost, her very existence is a crime. She’s spent her whole life in hiding.
Until the day Frostblood soldiers raid her village and kill her mother. The day she swears to avenge her people.
She must travel deep into the heart of the enemy, to the court of the Frost King, with only the mysterious warrior Arcus – a Frostblood rebel – by her side. But with alliances between flame and ice strictly forbidden, is Arcus friend or foe?
Ruby will only have one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who took everything from her. But she has no idea just how hot her fire will burn…
17. The Winter Guest By W. C. Ryan // LINK
The drive leads past the gate house and through the trees towards the big house, visible through the winter-bared branches. Its windows stare down at Harkin and the sea beyond . . .
January 1921. Though the Great War is over, in Ireland a new, civil war is raging. The once-grand Kilcolgan House, a crumbling bastion shrouded in sea-mist, lies half empty and filled with ghosts – both real and imagined – the Prendevilles, the noble family within, co-existing only as the balance of their secrets is kept.
Then, when an IRA ambush goes terribly wrong, Maud Prendeville, eldest daughter of Lord Kilcolgan, is killed, leaving the family reeling. Yet the IRA column insist they left her alive, that someone else must have been responsible for her terrible fate. Captain Tom Harkin, an IRA intelligence officer and Maud’s former fiancé, is sent to investigate, becoming an unwelcome guest in this strange, gloomy household.
Working undercover, Harkin must delve into the house’s secrets – and discover where, in this fractured, embattled town, each family member’s allegiances truly lie. But Harkin too is haunted by the ghosts of the past and by his terrible experiences on the battlefields. Can he find out the truth about Maud’s death before the past – and his strange, unnerving surroundings – overwhelm him?
18. The Woman In Black and Other Ghost Stories By Susan Hill // LINK
From the horrifying secret of Eel Marsh House in The Woman in Black to the supernatural terror unleashed by spiteful Leonora van Vorst in Dolly and the deadly danger posed by Professor Parmitter’s painting of Venice in The Man in the Picture, Susan Hill’s ghost stories never fail to raise the hairs on the back of your neck and keep you turning the pages long past midnight.
Here, collected together for the first time – and also including the bestselling Printers Devil Court and The Small Hand – are all of Susan Hill’s spinechilling stories of murder, magic and mayhem.
Read on if you dare ..
19. The Near Witch By V.E. Schwab // LINK
The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.
If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.
There are no strangers in the town of Near.
These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.
But when an actual stranger, a boy who seems to fade like smoke, appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.
The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion.
As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.
Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won’t soon forget.
20. The Haunting Season Collection // LINK
Long before Charles Dickens and Henry James popularized the tradition, the shadowy nights of winter have been a time for people to gather together by the flicker of candlelight and experience the intoxicating thrill of a ghost story.
Now eight bestselling, award-winning authors – all of them master storytellers of the sinister and the macabre – bring the tradition to vivid life in a spellbinding new collection of original spine-tingling tales.
Taking you from the frosty Fens to the wild Yorkshire moors, to the snow-covered grounds of a haunted estate, to a bustling London Christmas market, these mesmerizing stories will capture your imagination and serve as your indispensable companion to the cold, dark nights.
So curl up, light a candle, and fall under the spell of winters past…