Books with a Winter Setting

As the cold sets in and the winter months are at their fullest strength, I wanted to share six books that have the perfect winter setting to really immerse you in the season. These stories will make you want to set a kettle on for a hot cup of tea and cuddle up in front of a fire as you get lost in these wintery worlds.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden is set in 14th-century Russia. This book is steeped in Russian folklore about little fairies with magic in this winter setting. This is book one in the trilogy, and each book contains a winter setting plus a lot of winter magic involved as well. I read these as a buddy read with one of my friends and we both loved the little creatures that are all introduced, the characters, and the political system of this book. If you enjoy fantasy and a slower-paced unwinding of mythology and folklore, this one is for you.

Set in Canada as a contemporary story is Beartown by Fredrik Backman. I’ve read a few of his books and what this author does really well is character development. His books have strong characters that really become their own story. Beartown is centered around the culture of a local hockey team with a focus on the dynamics of living in a small town that’s very sports-oriented plus the drama that gets involved with those athletes. I personally don’t know much at all about hockey but I still very much enjoyed dipping into this world and getting lost in the dynamics of the small town and what goes on around the hockey team.

Naomi Novik is one of my favorite authors and I loved her book Spinning Silver. This is a standalone book and a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. This is set in a fantasy land that reminds me a lot of primitive Russia. It had similar vibes to The Bear and the Nightingale. There are fantasy elements in this book and the magic is rooted in winter elements. This story has multiple POVs of different female characters. However, if you have a hard time with POV shifts, especially if there’s an absence of chapter titles (as is the case with this book), then I would recommend physically reading this or reading it on your Kindle as opposed to an audiobook.

Bouncing back to a contemporary genre, I recommend The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock. This was a random book that I picked up from the library one year based on my intrigue with the cover and blurb. It focuses on different teenagers who are growing up in Alaska in the 1970s, pinpointing some of those classic teen experiences but in a remote setting. It was a slower-paced read in a multi-POV format. The audiobook has a full cast and was a fantastic listen.

If science fiction is more your jam, then this young adult book set on a frozen planet is my recommendation for you! Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves by Meg Long is the first book in this action-packed duology. The story is centered around a sled dog race, but make it sci-fi and on a frozen ice planet. It is an extremely cold setting featuring several scenes of life-threatening situations related to the climate that had me snuggling deeper into my blankets while reading.

The last book on my list is one that I just read this past month, Emily Wilde’s Encyclopedia of Fairies by Heather Fawcett. Book 1 of an adult fantasy series, this story is set in a remote village in Norway. The main character Emily is there on a scholarly research trip to document fairies of the region for the first time. She arrives in November, right before the winter really kicks in, and she stays for several months. Emily is from Cambridge originally, so she is not used to this level of snow or frigidness. There are treks through the snow-covered forest and ice magic and faeries. This is a very fun and cozy read that has adorable characters, all immersed in a winter setting.

These are my six book recommendations featuring prominent winter settings that I have read and loved. I personally rated each of these books 3 stars or above. Let me know if you’ve read any of these or if you have other books that have a strong winter setting that I should read next!

Written by Coco

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The Bear and the Nightingale

The Bear and the Nightingale


Beartown

Beartown


Spinning Silver

Spinning Silver


Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves

Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves


Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries


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