Winter can be a busy season, what with all the holidays and New Year resolutions. But it’s also the best possible season to look out the window, note the snowstorm or the slush or the cold, and refuse to dash through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh. Sometimes it’s better to snuggle back under those warm covers with a good book instead! Here’s a few of the Inn’s favourite cold-weather reads.
The Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Addison
Look, there’s a reason each book’s release date was set for winter! The Winternight Trilogy is the coming-of-age story of Vasya, a girl living in medieval Russia. Vasya can see and talk to “chyerti” (traditional spirits and creatures from Russian folklore) at a time when their power is fading in favour of Christianity. The books feature cozy fairytales told round the oven, an actual god of winter, and a wonderfully chilling wintry atmosphere.
Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
Christmas in our world has passed, but there’s still time to celebrate Hogswatchnight*! The Auditors (i.e. celestial bureaucrats) wish to eliminate the Hogfather (i.e. Santa Claus but with tusks), as he brings too much chaos into the world. Death (i.e. Death) and his granddaughter Susan must work together to stop the Auditors and bring back
Christmas Hogswatchnight. If you’ve never tried a Discworld book before, this is a perfect place to jump in!
* It’s on December 32nd.
The Winter Road by Adrian Selby
Teyr is a mercenary-turned-merchant who dreams of building a road to link together disparate clans, thus encouraging trade and discouraging conflict between them. The subject matter here is pretty dark, and there’s a tonne of violence, but behind all that is a protagonist who drives this novel forward through sheer force of love and will. Nothing like some heartwarming grimdark to keep the chill away on a cold night.
Snowspelled by Stephanie Burgis
Cassandra Harwood was the first woman magician, but she lost all her magic four months ago. Now she’s stuck in a snowbound manor trying to avoid politicians, former colleagues, and most of all her stubborn but sweet ex-fiancé. What she can’t avoid is a magical deadline given to her by a malevolent elf lord… Snowspelled is a charming and heartwarming Fantasy of Manners novella.
Sabriel by Garth Nix
Sabriel is to be a necromancer. Or rather, she’s to be a reverse necromancer: her family is tasked with the duty to put the Dead back to rest. When she receives word that her father is in trouble, she must leave her boarding school, and instead pick up her snow shoes, sword, and magical, Death-controlling bells. Sabriel is a classic YA book with the perfect touch of wintry creepiness.
The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky
[Release date is January 29th!] Set in the icy lands of North America around a thousand years ago, it tells the story of the Inuit hunter and shaman Omat. Omat seeks to save her village, who are starving because the seal have stopped coming. To do so, she must go on a journey and regain favour with the spirits. The book is chock-full of vivid cold-weather imagery and tries to portray both Inuit culture and the newly-arrived Viking culture in as much detail as possible, so definitely check it out when it’s out!
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
A snowy, Slavic-themed retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. Miryem comes from a family of moneylenders. When she takes over her father’s job, she proves far better at it than he was. In fact, she’s good enough for a rumour to spread that she can spin silver into gold. Unfortunately, that rumour then reaches the ears of the Staryk: otherworldly fae creatures who take words a little too literally and now have a task for Miryem.
The Winter Riddle by Sam Hooker
A charming festive fantasy, full of Vikings, Frost Giants, Santa, and a cranky witch. Volgha, said cranky witch, gets asked by the Norse god Loki to split his mind in two. You see, Loki wishes to set a riddle good enough to stump the greatest trickster ever (i.e. himself); he needs one Loki to set the riddle and one to solve it. This… obviously doesn’t end great. The Winter Riddle is a lighthearted, funny adventure with a bit of heart.
The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Finally, there’s the granddaddy of them all. How can you resist a story about a land where it’s always winter but never Christmas?
(If you can, that’s alright: there’s always the equally charming and winter-friendly but, ah, slightly less religious Northern Lights by Philip Pullman to turn to instead.)