The Best Winter Books for Hardcore Chionophiles

These snowy, stormy, ice-capped books are sure to satisfy those looking for perfectly atmospheric wintertime reads.

Spring is just around the corner in the Northern Hemisphere, but many of us are still longing for the ice and snow that much of the nation expected but didn’t get this year. Diehard fans of winter, known in scientific circles as chionophiles, thrive in the colder months and love how mesmerizingly still and quiet the world becomes after a snow squall.

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That appreciation doesn’t have to extend to suiting up and stomping around in the slush, of course. Many chionophiles have a healthy respect for the awesome power of winter—the dangers inherent in ice slicks and blizzards or frostbite’s nip. There’s nothing wrong with experiencing snow’s sparkle from inside one’s cozy home, perhaps through a window or maybe even in the pages of a great book.

If you don’t want winter to end and could do with a little—or a lot—more snow in your life, our list of the best books set in winter and icy Fantasy fiction will keep you feeling frosty even after spring has sprung.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

‘The Bear and the Nightingale’ by Katherine Arden. Del Ray

File The Bear and the Nightingale under books that make readers feel like they’re living in a wintery fairytale. Katherine Arden’s beloved series, the Winternight Trilogy, is a masterpiece that takes readers into a Russian version of Frozen’s Arendale. In a land consumed by winter, Vasilia loves telling stories about Frost, the god of death who claims souls in the night. When her new stepmother forbids the family from working their pagan rituals, crops fail and misfortune follows. Arden’s Fantasy novel is beautifully written with characters that resist the expectations placed on women who just want to exist on their own terms.

The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid

‘The Wolf and the Woodsman’ by Ava Reid. HarperCollins

The Wolf and the Woodsman is an atmospheric Fantasy novel that shines light on the antisemitism of medieval Hungary. In a snow-touched land, a kingdom is corrupted by a fanatical king whose threat toward pagans and the Yehuli is deeply felt. When soldiers come to claim Evike’s as a sacrifice, the pagan girl’s people surrender her to Gaspar, the disgraced prince leading the Woodsmen. Reid’s writing is so beautiful and evocative that readers will feel as if they’re standing in the falling snow. With its deeply romantic gestures between enemies and ice-chilled lovers, this book will satisfy the most ardent chionophiles.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

‘Six of Crows’ by Leigh Bardugo . Square Fish

Six of Crows is Leigh Bardugo’s most celebrated Young Adult novel, and it was the characters from this two-book series that drew fans to the Netflix adaptation of Shadow & Bone. In the industrial city of Ketterdam, criminals, spies, thieves and convicts come together to form a group of outcasts planning a near-impossible heist that could make them rich beyond their wildest dreams. Bardugo weaves a dark, gloomy world into being, populating it with hardened characters who slowly reveal their most personal, vulnerable selves.

A Wolf for a Spell by Karah Sutton

‘A Wolf for a Spell’ by Karah Sutton. Yearling

A Wolf for a Spell slowly unfolds, first in a frost-touched fairytale of deadly forests that becomes a beautiful story of loving friendships and complex characters. This Slavic-inspired Middle Grade Fantasy is so popular because it tells classical stories in the vein of the Percy Jackson novels. Here, readers learn how far and how deep magic can impact three destinies in cozy prose perfect for long winter days.

Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber

‘Once Upon a Broken Heart’ by Stephanie Garber. Flatiron Books

Once Upon a Broken Heart is BookTok’s favorite fairy tale romance series for good reason. Stephanie Garber has imagined a truly romantic world that feels like Alice Wonderland as told by Taylor Swift. This book tells the story of Evangeline Fox, who has always believed in true love and happy endings. Heartbroken and healing from a shattered dream, she makes a deal with the wicked and tragic Prince of Hearts, Jacks. Garber writes with broad strokes, painting a whimsical winter wonderland full of grand parties, immortals who act like scoundrels and some truly absorbing romantic tension.

Split Tooth by Tanya Tagaq

A minimalist book cover with an arctic fox head
‘Split Tooth’ by Tanya Tagaq. Penguin

Tanya Tagaq, the famed Inuit throat singer, writes an enthralling collection of stories, memories and poetry, collected in Split Tooth. Inspired by Tagaq’s time as a young girl in Canada’s ice-cold Nunavut territory during the 1970s, the narratives in Split Tooth confront the personal struggles of the author and her community, from government relocation and sexual abuse to alcoholism. But Tagaq turns tragic experiences into one of magical realism that evokes the grand, epic beauty of Inuit mythology and the stories of the Arctic.

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

‘The Only Good Indians’ by Stephen Graham Jones. S&S/Saga Press

The Only Good Indians is one of those books destined to become a classic horror novel that readers will forever obsess over. It’s a horrifying tale of what happens when four Native American men go on a forbidden elk hunt during a winter storm and end up fighting for their lives. Graham Jones writes tense, gory horror with prose that digs deep into the most human of places.

Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy

‘Once There Were Wolves’ by Charlotte McConaghy. Flatiron Books

Charlotte McConaghy’s literary thriller, Once There Were Wolves, calls to mind both the historical fairy tale narratives surrounding wolves and the modern anxieties humanity spins about them. In the snowy wilderness of the Scottish Highlands, Inti and her twin sister lead biologists in introducing a pack of gray wolves into the land. Hardened by a violent past, the wolves and the wilderness push Inti to be a softer, more vulnerable version of herself. When the town blames the wolves for a murder, she is desperate to save the wild, beautiful animals she’s grown to love.

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

‘We Hunt the Flame. by Hafsah Faizal. Square Fish

Hafsah Faizal is one of the best writers in Young Adult fiction in 2024. Her debut, We Hunt the Flame, plays with canonical Fantasy tropes while bringing a fresh—and surprisingly fun—perspective to the genre. In an ancient Arabia-inspired land that has been cursed to suffer endless winter, a young woman disguised as a cloaked hunter goes on a quest to save her people from starvation. The assassin tasked to thwart her is forced to choose between the loyalty he feels toward his autocratic father and the bonds he forms with unexpected friends. Faizal writes fiercely, making for an engaging wintery read.

Emily Wilde’s Map of the Otherlands by Heather Fawcett

‘Emily Wilde’s Map of the Otherlands’ by Heather Fawcett. Penguin Random House

The follow-up to Heather Fawcett’s whimsical fantasy novel, Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries, is another adventure featuring witty faerie academics and light academia. Emily Wilde and her former rival, Wendell Bambleby, journey to the snow-capped Austrian Alps in the hope of unlocking a map that will lead them to the faerie realms. The overt grumpiness of Emily and her posh-yet-deadly love interest is, as usual, delightful in print, but it’s worth pointing out that what’s even better is reading a tale of neurodivergent characters who understand each other on a level no one else can. Fawcett’s world building is as beautiful as ever against a backdrop of snowy mountains and a court of winter faeries.

The Best Winter Books for Hardcore Chionophiles