The temperatures are dropping below freezing and the sun sets early, making it the perfect time of year to curl up with a good book. Whether you like thrillers, swoon-worthy romance, or an escape from reality, there’s a book here to warm you up.
This is also a great list for a seasonal book display that can incorporate many genres and appeal to a wide range of readers.
Thrillers and Mysteries for Cold Winter Nights
If you’re in the mood for an adrenaline rush, these books are sure to get your heart pounding. These mysteries and thrillers will chill you to the bone!
Bonechiller by Graham McNamee (2009 Best Books for Young Adults)
After his mother’s death, Danny moves with his father to a remote Canadian town next to a frozen lake with a terrifying legend that haunts it.
Trapped by Michael Northrup
Seven teens are waiting to be picked up from school when a killer snowstorm hits. Can they survive? This is a good bed for readers who want a thriller without paranormal elements.
As White as Snow by Salla Simukka
Atmospheric Nordic crime thrillers have been popular with adult readers, and this trilogy brings the blood (and cold) to YA and adds a fairy tale twist.
Nightfall by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujiwinski
When the season turns, more than severe weather threatens an isolated island and residents flee. When a group of teenagers are left behind, they must fight to survive. With hints of supernatural threats in addition to the terror of the elements, this is a spooky thriller for middle school readers.
The Dead of Winter by Chris Priestley
This has all the elements of a classic ghost story: an orphan is sent to live in an isolated house in the woods, where he finds a spirits and a mysterious secrets. Fans of staples in this genre, like Poe or Gorey, will delight in this homage to Victorian ghost stories.
The Edge by Roland Smith
The follow up to Peak, this story revolves around a mountain-climbing and documentary film expedition that turns sinister when the director is murdered and other climbers are taken hostage.
Romance for Cold Winter Nights
There are countless summer romances in YA fiction, but sometimes it feels like the winter-themed stories are limited to holiday collections. These novels take place in the winter months.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
This adorable romance takes place over the fall semester of school, but many key scenes take place during the winter months. Laura Jean loves to bake, and especially to make holiday cookies, and there’s a school ski trip that figures prominently into the plot.
This paranormal romance is very much tied to the changing of the seasons. The ability of werewolves to shift to human form is contingent upon the temperature, and the atmospheric prose about the winter weather is sure to put readers in the mood to curl up with a good book.
Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler
This coming of age novel is mostly about growing up. Hudson is trying to balance helping her single mother run a diner with her ambition to be a figure skater, while also contemplating her attraction to two hockey players.
Lovely, Dark, and Deep by Amy McNamara
This emotionally intense YA novel is about a girl who retreats to the wilderness of Maine after high school graduation to process her grief.
Fantasy and Fairy Tales for Cold Winter Nights
These fantasy and fairy tale retellings offer unique settings and worlds with wintry climates.
Snow Like Ashes by Sarah Raasch
This high fantasy series follows Meira, an orphan in the kingdom of Winter, which has been robbed of its magic, fights to help her kingdom rise to power again.
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Set in a Russian-inspired fantasy world with a wintry landscape, this complex fantasy series is perfect for long, cold nights.
Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston
In this fantasy world, Las Vegas isn’t the desert oasis it once was — it’s a wintry landscape blanketed in ice and ruled by sinister magic. A young blackjack dealer dreams of escape to the Blue, a paradise where he’ll be free of prosecution.
Ice by Sarah Beth Durst
This novel, inspired by a Norwegian fairy tale, tells the story of a girl who makes a bargain with a Polar Bear King to try and save her mother. Set in the Artic North and Canadian forests, this tale of survival and sacrifice is perfect for readers looking for out of the ordinary fairy tale retellings featuring headstrong and smart protagonists.
Winterspell by Claire Legrand
The Nutracker inspired this young adult novel about Clara, a girl who is forced to journey to a mysterious, cold land of Cane to save her father with the help of a cursed Prince. A dark, gritty, and sexy fairy tale, this is a perfect read for winter nights.
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George (2009 Best Books for Young Adults)
This fairy tale blends elements of The Beauty and the Beast with Norse fables. Lass, who has always been an outsider, makes a deal with a curse polar bear that her family will become rich if only she will accompany him to his castle of ice.
Do you have any favorite wintry reads? Add them in the comments!
— Molly Wetta, currently reading This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab