10 Creepy Winter Reads Guaranteed To Give You Literal Chills

by Charlotte Ahlin

Forget about pumpkins and candy corn and children dressed as monsters, because winter is truly the scariest of seasons. Autumn might have its spooky holidays and its changing leaves, but winter has darkness. Winter has those long, frigid nights of staying holed up in your house, wondering what could be lurking out there in the cold. Winter has treacherous drives through the snow. Winter is just plain creepy. Luckily, winter is also a great time for getting cozy under a blanket, pouring yourself a generous mug of hot chocolate, and reading. Here are a few creepy winter reads, for when you want to freak yourself out while staying safely indoors.

Some of these books are classic ghost stories, set against a wintry backdrop of bare trees and freezing temperatures. Others tap into the holidays to spin horror out of beloved traditions, and still others tackle the all too real terror of surviving (or not surviving) in the deadly cold of midwinter. All of them manage to find something skin-crawling about the most wonderful time of the year. So if you need a break from all that cutesy holiday joy, pick up one of these books for a healthy dose of chilling winter horror:

'Let the Right One In' by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Set in the freezing cold of a Swedish winter, Let the Right One In is the story of twelve-year-old Oskar and the little girl who moves in next door. She seems about his age... but there's something off about her. Like the fact that she only comes out at night. And the gruesome, twisted murders that started around the same time she moved to town...

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'The Shining' by Stephen King

You may have heard of this little horror story before: Jack Torrance has just gotten a job as the winter caretaker for the Overlook Hotel. It seems like the perfect chance to reconnect with his family and work on his writing... until the sinister forces that dwell deep within the hotel start to go after his son. The Shining is the ultimate tale of trying not to murder your entire family in the dead of winter.

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'The Winter People' by Jennifer McMahon

Nineteen-year-old Ruthie has just moved into an "off-the-grid" farmhouse with her mother and little sister. It seems like the perfect place to weather a chilly Vermont winter, until Ruthie's mother suddenly vanishes without a trace. Looking for clues, Ruthie stumbles upon an old diary and finds herself sucked into a dark, decades old mystery that might hold the key to her mother's fate.

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'White is for Witching' by Helen Oyeyemi

Helen Oyeyemi has given the classic haunted house story an eerie, modern makeover. The Silver family is recovering from a devastating loss in their vast, cliff-side house. But as they grieve, something strange is taking hold of their home, from the winter apples appearing on bare tree branches to the daughter's newfound appetite for chalk.

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'Ghost Story' by Peter Straub

It's a simple premise: four aging men have gathered to tell ghost stories in the middle of winter, just to divert themselves from their quiet, humdrum lives. But one singular story keeps coming back to haunt them, because this story is true... and, as it turns out, it's not so easy to get away with murder.

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'To Build a Fire' by Jack London

You don't always need ghosts and murderers to make a winter story scary. Sometimes you just need the winter. To Build a Fire is one of Jack London's grimmest tales of all time: one man and his dog, in the wilderness, struggling to build a fire before they freeze to death in sub-zero temperatures.

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'The Wolves of Midwinter' by Anne Rice

The Wolves of Midwinter finally answers that age-old question: how do werewolves celebrate Christmas? Reuben Golding is staying at the grand mansion at Nideck Point, learning how to control his particular, wolfish gifts. But his education takes a strange turn when he discovers his fate is bound up with the passionate yet desperate spirit who haunts the mansion's grounds.

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'Snowblind' by Christopher Golden

Twelve years ago, the small New England town of Coventry faced a peculiar blizzard: strange figures appeared in the snow, faces looked in at children's windows, and people wandered out into the whiteness, never to be seen again. Now it seems that the storm is back, along with the spirits of those who were lost all those years ago.

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'Krampus: The Yule Lord' by Brom

For a twisted holiday classic, check out Krampus: The Yule Lord. Apparently, dear old Saint Nick is locked in an eternal battle with the ancient trickster demon, the Krampus. Only this year, a failed songwriter from West Virginia has gotten himself ensnared in the battle for Christmas, and he'll have to escape the clutches of evil in this outlandish, beautifully illustrated adventure.

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'Thin Air' by Michelle Paver

Five mountaineers are determined to be the first to successfully climb Kangchenjunga, the third tallest mountain in the world. But as they follow in the footsteps of a failed expedition, they start to wonder if it was just the cold and the altitude that defeated their predecessors... or if there is something far more sinister lurking high on the mountaintop.

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