Chilly and Killy: 10 Great Winter Thrillers to Delight and Frighten You



Launched in 2019, Nightfire, the new horror imprint from Tor, encompasses the breadth of horror, from short story collections to novellas and novels, from standalone works to series, from dark fantasy to the supernatural, from originals to reprints of lost modern classics. Nightfire’s novels are now appearing on shelves in bookstores and libraries near you. Do you dare stretch the spines on these terrifying titles this autumn?

I am not a fan of winter. It’s a weird thing for someone who has spent over four decades living in New England to say, but there it is. I am not a snow person and I don’t participate in any winter activities. I am so happy every spring when the warm weather comes back. I am also not a fan of being murdered. And yet, I love winter thrillers.

Because to me, being pursued by a killer is even worse if you’re doing it in the snow. You can always remove layers if it’s too hot outside, but who has time to bundle up when they’re fleeing a killer? You’re being chased through a blizzard by a killer, with zero visibility and freezing temperatures. Have you ever tried running in snow? It’s not easy to do! Or maybe because the conditions outside are so bad, you have to stay inside with a killer. That’s also terrible!

But while I don’t like winter weather, there’s something so cozy about curling up and reading about other people’s misfortunes in snowy conditions. (This will henceforth be known as schadenfreuzen.) Whether it’s a murderous human, or ghost, or an angry figure of holiday folklore, here are 10 great winter thrillers to delight and frighten (delighten?) you.

10 Winter Thrillers Full of Chills, Thrills, and Kills

cover oc Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice, a painting of a snowed-in building surrounded by snow drifts

Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice

When a small isolated northern Anishinaabe community loses power, they think it’s temporary. But as the days go by and they still have no electricity, they have to make some decisions about what to do if they want to survive the winter. But just wait until what is going on in the rest of the world finds its way to them…

cover of The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley, featuring giant snow drifts

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

And this is a locked room mystery, meaning the action and suspense is all set in one place. This one is about a group of friends, former college classmates, who decide to vacation in the Scottish Highlands at a grand estate. But after a raging blizzard seals them in, tensions rise, and two days later, one of them is dead and one of them is a killer.

cover of White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi, featuring silhouette of three faces in a pinwheel pattern

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi 

It might be cold outside the Silver family house in Dover, England, home to four generations of Silver women. But it’s just as ominous inside the home, which doesn’t seem to want to let its inhabitants leave. And it certainly doesn’t like outsiders trespassing between its four walls.

cover of No Exit by Taylor Adams, featuring blizzard conditions as seen through the front of a car windshield

No Exit by Taylor Adams

This one is another thrilling locked room novel. It’s about a college student who is stranded in the information center at a rest stop with four strangers during a blizzard. When she makes a horrifying discovery in the back of one of their vehicles, she must decide if she’ll risk the storm and try to get to safety or stay and fight. We call this Die Hard in a Rest Area.

cover image of The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones, featuring deer antlers

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

And this is a scary story of revenge from one of Book Riot’s collective favorite authors! Years ago, four American Indian men made a terrible mistake during a hunting trip. Now something has come looking for them, and it’s going to take the cold breath from their lungs, one by one.

cover of The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon, featuring a house barely seen through a snowstorm

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon 

And this is a frightening tale of a historic crime, a hidden diary, and a present-day evil. Alice and her daughters Ruthie and Fawn move into a seemingly idyllic Vermont farmhouse. But it comes with a dark history, one that doesn’t want to stay in the past. And when Alice goes missing, Ruthie must solve the mystery of the past to find her.

cover of The Hunger by Alma Katsu, featuring a woman in a white shift standing in aqua lake water

The Hunger by Alma Katsu

Based on the actual story of the doomed Donner Party, who attempted to travel from the midwest to California in the mid 19th century. When a blizzard trapped them in place, supposedly things got so bleak, they resorted to cannibalism. But in Katsu’s version, maybe something evil found them in the snow…

cover of Krampus: The Yule Lord by Brom, featuring illustration of scary Krampus face surrounded by snow

Krampus: The Yule Lord by Brom

Krampus is a famous figure from Alpine folklore, a scary demon who frightens the bad children at Christmas. But what if Krampus stole the holiday from Santa and started running the show? This is a fun and frightening illustrated tale of the story of Krampus, the anti-Santa, and how he got his job.

cover of The Snowman by Jo Nesbo, feauting a snowman silhouette made of ripped paper on a black background

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

While this is listed as the seventh book in the Harry Hole series, you don’t have to read the others to be terrified by it! Detective Hole is up against a killer who is kidnapping and killing women on the first day of snow each year. Known as The Snowman, it’s up to Hole to put an end to his reindeer games. (P.S. The movie adaptation of this is VERY UNGOOD. Just watch the trailer to see the snow face, that’s the only good scare of the whole thing.)

cover of Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia, featuring a multi-colored painting of a white hotel with a red piano in the snow outside, in front of a red sky

Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia

This cover might make this novel seem quaint, but make no mistake. This is a creepy and charming locked room novel about a band competition at the Bellweather Hotel. A giant snowstorm has trapped everyone inside until it’s over, which would be fine, except for the hotel’s whole haunted, murder-y past. It’s a little Shining, a little Agatha Christie, and a whole lot of chilling fun.

That’s all for today! I hope you found some chilling and thrilling things to read on this list of winter thrillers. And for more scary reads for the snowy holiday season, check out these great holiday horror books.


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