Unimaginable Cosmic Castles: 9 Winter Horror Tales to Keep You Warm

Bandon Hill Cemetery, Wallington, Surrey, December 2010, Photographed by Donald Macauley. Via Wikimedia.

Kittens, as winter continues to pound the eastern half of the United States, what could be better than curling up under a blanket with a good book and the wind howling at your windows?  Here are nine fabulously spooky stories set in winter, from snow-bound homes to icy worlds that never see the sun.  Happy reading!

1. John W. Campbell Jr., Who Goes There? 
“The novella that formed the basis of “The Thing” is the John W. Campbell classic about an antarctic research camp that discovers and thaws the ancient, frozen body of a crash-landed alien. Hailed as ‘one of the finest science fiction novellas ever written’ by the Science Fiction Writers of America.”

2. Stephen King, The Shining
“Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote . . . and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.”

3. H.P. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness
“In H.P. Lovecraft’s terrifying horror story, geologist William Dyer is desperate to stop a research team planning a journey to Antarctica. He himself led a disastrous mission there, only to discover evidence of blood-chilling evil from beyond Earth. Will the new expedition continue its plans? And what will happen if they go?”

4. Dan Simmons, The Terror
“The men on board the HMS Terror have every expectation of finding the Northwest Passage. When the expedition’s leader meets a terrible death, Captain Francis Crozier takes command and leads his surviving crewmen on a last, desperate attempt to flee south across the ice. But as another winter approaches, as scurvy and starvation grow more terrible, and as the Terror on the ice stalks them southward, Crozier and his men begin to fear there is no escape.”

5. Alan Ryan, Dead White
“On a cold winter’s night, the citizens of Deacon’s Kill find themselves at the mercy of a snow storm. The few who are not snowed in come together in the town hall to draft a disaster plan and create a temporary shelter. But something else has arrived in their town.”

6.  Albert Sanchez Pinol, Cold Skin
“Shortly after World War I, a troubled man accepts a solitary assignment as a “weather official” on a tiny, remote island on the edges of the Antarctic. When he arrives, the predecessor he is meant to replace is missing and a deeply disturbed stranger is barricaded in a heavily fortified lighthouse. At first adversaries, the two find that their tenuous partnership may be the only way they survive the unspeakably horrific reptilian creatures that ravage the island at night.”

7. Peter Straub, Ghost Story
“For four aging men in the terror-stricken town of Milburn, New York, an act inadvertently carried out in their youth has come back to haunt them. Now they are about to learn what happens to those who believe they can bury the past – and get away with murder.”

8. Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
“Eccentric scientist Victor Frankenstein creates a grotesque creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment and must pursue him to the icy ends of the world.”

9. Michelle Paver, Dark Matter: A Ghost Story
“January 1937. Twenty-eight year old Jack is poor, lonely and desperate to change his life. So when he’s offered the chance to join an Arctic expedition, he jumps at it. But the Arctic summer is brief. Soon he will see the last of the sun, as the polar night engulfs the camp in months of darkness. Soon he will reach the point of no return – when the sea will freeze, making escape impossible. And Gruhuken is not uninhabited. Jack is not alone. Something walks there in the dark…”

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7 thoughts on “Unimaginable Cosmic Castles: 9 Winter Horror Tales to Keep You Warm

  1. I’ve read “Who Goes There?” and “The Shining” and loved them both. I just finished “At the Mountains of Madness” and I liked it except I had trouble following it due to this was my first Lovecraft story and I had trouble getting used to his style of prose. I’m doing better with “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward”. I hated “Ghost Story”; I’ve actually never been a Straub fan. I have “The Terror” on my Kindle and I may make it my next project after “The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft”.
    This was an excellent article and a solid source for new books to read.

    • Lovecraft is lovely to read but can be a chore to get through the first few times around. I’m glad you enjoyed the list – I was just thinking we really don’t feature enough horror writing on the site, when there’s so much excellent material out there to share.

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