12 Books that’ll Have You Dreaming of Sugarplums and Darker Things this Holiday Season


We might have missed Christmas, but these wintery books and dark tales will help you prolong the season’s chill for as long as you desire!

1. East by Edith Pattou

This epic retelling of the Scandinavian folktale, East of the Sun, West of the Moon is the perfect winter adventure to read if you’re a fan of cursed princes, plucky heroines, and magic- for both good and ill. (But, mostly ill.)

2. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

This classic ghostly Christmas story has been spun so many times over the years- from live-action to Muppets. We’re sure nothing is quite as good as the original! Tuck into Coventry England and read as Scrooge’s icy heart thaws! 

3. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Another epic adventure with a group of flawed young heroes who ally with a powerful being named Aslan to fight a frosty, terrible enchantress. In Narnia, it’s always winter and never Christmas thanks to the White Witch. Watching her get foiled by a bunch of kids is always such a treat!

4. The Finnish Line by Linda Gerber

This is a lesser-known contemporary YA title, but I enjoyed reading it when I was younger! It’s got everything: Finland, skiing, a bad boy love interest, and a partridge in a pear tree!

5. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

This classic doesn’t have much to do with Christmas, but there’s something distinctly haunting about it that feels right to read during the darkest season!

6. The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman 

Go on an action packed adventure to the arctic in this sci-fi fantasy! Can a determined young woman save her friend and imprisoned uncle from the wicked Magesterium’s clutches? (I guess we’ll have to see!) 

7. The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo 

Step back into the Grishaverse with this lovely anthology of dark, slavic fairytales! Leigh even gave us a retelling of The Nutcracker to boot! Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

8. Hansel and Gretel by Hans Christian Anderson

Maybe it’s the gingerbread house that pulls me towards this one… or it could be that the idea of children foiling witches feels quintessentially Christmassy to me for some reason.

9. The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson

Okay, this recommendation comes with a caviat- don’t read it unless you’re okay with feeling ridiculously sad for a long time. It’s a beautiful story about the importance of sharing what you have with others- because you never know the hardship that someone else might be suffering in silence. 

10. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

There is something about this wintery werewolf tale that makes me want to snuggle up next to a fire with a cup of Earl Gray. Mercy Falls is just the perfect misty, forested backdrop. *Chef’s Kiss*    

11. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik 

I am so happy to put one of my favorite books on this list. It’s not necessarily Chistmassy, but it has a wintery Easter European backdrop and a focus on family that’s quite important to any good Christmas story. It also features a clever young moneylender, an unpretty lady, a tsar possessed by a fire demon, a peasant girl, and a fey king with a heart of ice who governs a land of snow and winter. In other words, it’s perfection. 

12. The Bear and the Nightengale by Katherine Arden 

None of you should be surprised that this family-focused Russian tale made it to my list! It’s got a brave heroine, scary folktales, demons, and wintery climes- and pretty much everything else you need for a great seasonal read! 

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