are wintery books good? | ranking books set in winter

Welcome to my post, today I want to find out how good books set in winter are. I’ve never been a seasonal reader, but lately I’ve been incorporating seasonal books, like my dark academia September and requesting wintery books from Netgalley, which made me want to look at all the book set in winter I’ve read. I’m ranking them in terms of star rating, but my opinion might have changed! Hopefully this can give you some recommendations of what to read over winter, even the ones I don’t rank as highly!


These are all the books I’ve rated 2-3 stars. Animal Life is the most recent read, and the lowest with 2.5 stars. It definitely gives you a wintery setting being in Iceland with an oncoming storm, but it got boring pretty quickly. There were quite a lot of insightful quotes, but they felt shoe-horned into the story which made it felt clunky and more of a non-fiction book.

Next is All the White Spaces, which I think I may have been generous giving it 3 stars. If you’re looking for a creepy, isolated winter atmosphere then I would definitely recommend this despite my rating, because that was the best apart about it. However, the tension was a little lost of me because of the slow pace and the disconnect between the characters. One great thing was the trans rep in a historical setting.

Another one with a creepy atmosphere is of course The Shining. The end was gripping and you do end up rooting for the characters, but it did drag for me a little and the racist language at the end put me off, whatever the circumstances. The isolation of winter does play a large part though and I’m mostly in the minority of rating it 3 stars.

Last in this category is The Mercies, and I’d be interested to see what I’d rate it now since I read it over 2 years ago and I think I’d probably appreciate it a little more. It’s set on a Norwegian island in the 1600s and all about witch trials and a forbidden sapphic romance. It’s a very slow-paced book and I think that was my main gripe with it. I don’t remember a lot of the description and now I’m doubting myself that it was winter, but it is a cold setting and at times dark story at least!

Leading onto books I more strongly recommend, these are all ones I’ve rated 4 stars. First up is Wranglestone, and again I think I was a little generous with the rating, but it was a pretty light book with a fun plot, sweet gay romance and wintery atmosphere. The characters weren’t very developed and I’m not interested in reading the new sequel anymore, but I do think it’s a decent YA zombie book.

Another recent read is The Raven and the Reindeer, a retelling of the Snow Queen with a queer twist. It was slightly juvenile for me, especially at the start, but it was an easy read with lots of snow (obviously), adventure and good character development. I would definitely recommend for a short book at the end of the year!

Last in this row is No Exit. I’m quite surprised I’ve read so many horror/thrillers, but I’m not surprised that so many use a winter setting with the helpless, isolated feeling. The book was very tense with that claustrophic atmosphere, and I enjoyed seeing how the main character could find a way out, or exit

Last but definitely not the least (the most? Doesn’t really work), we have books I’ve rated 4 stars and above. Winter’s Orbit is a comforting read with a cute romance, but also political intrigue and a sci-fi backdrop – it has everything! It did feel like it was a romance first and sci-fi second, with some of the world-building and plot sacrificed for it. The most prominent scene I remember uses the cold to further the relationship between them, so definitely wintery!

Another book I really enjoyed with a wintery setting was Moon of the Crusted Snow. I’ve always recommended the audio for this because I know a lot of people complain that not a lot happens, but the audio you get immersed into the descriptions and the atmosphere. It’s very tense with the possible beginning of the apocalypse and a remote community. The inclusion of indigenous culture is insightful, with First Nations history integrated into the story.

The last book and only one I rated 5 stars on this list is The Sword of Kaigen. I read it over 2 years ago now but it’s had a big impact on me, and remains the book I’ve cried about the most. It’s a fantasy with main characters who use water/ice powers, which make for some amazing fight scenes. Beyond that, it has developed characters with interesting arcs, exploration of themes like motherhood and the impact of war, and an interesting plot with devastating twists. If you choose only one book out of these to put on your TBR, I recommend this one!

The Verdict

Are books set in winter good? Out of the ones I’ve read, I would say yes. The average rating of these is 3.65, which is definitely not bad. It’s also interesting to see how much of a range in genres there are, so there’s something for everyone! The fantasy/sci-fi is the highest and horror/thriller lowest, though that aligns with my usual preference so I’m not too surprised. 

Thanks for reading!  Are you a seasonal reader? Do you agree with the rankings here? I’m planning to make a post about books set in winter on my TBR, so let me know if you have any wintery recommendations!


Goodreads ♦


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s