With powder snow falling outside,
fireplaces burning bright,
sweets toasting over open fires,
and Christmas trees all alight,
I bring you tidings of well wishes
and books of merry delight.
Besides Halloween, Christmas is my favorite holiday of the year. I’m celebrating this most wonderful time of the year with a Christmas reading list!
You can also check out my December is Dark Retellings month list if you’re looking for something a little less Yuletide greetings and more Krampus.
The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories by Tara Moore (Editor)
During the Victorian era, it became traditional for publishers of newspapers and magazines to print ghost stories during the Christmas season for chilling winter reading by the fireside or candlelight. Now for the first time thirteen of these tales are collected here, including a wide range of stories from a diverse group of authors, some well-known, others anonymous or forgotten. Readers whose only previous experience with Victorian Christmas ghost stories has been Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” will be surprised and delighted at the astonishing variety of ghostly tales in this volume.
The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories: Volume Two by Allen Grove (Editor)
Following the popularity of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol(1843), Victorian newspapers and magazines frequently featured ghost stories at Christmas time, and reading them by candlelight or the fireside became an annual tradition. This second volume of Victorian Christmas ghost stories contains fifteen tales, most of which have never been reprinted. They represent a mix of the diverse styles and themes common to Victorian ghost fiction and include works by once-popular authors like Grant Allen and Eliza Lynn Linton as well as contributions from anonymous or wholly forgotten writers.
The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories: Volume Three by Simon Stern (Editor)
Seeking to capitalize on the success of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol (1843), Victorian newspapers and magazines frequently featured ghost stories at Christmas time, and reading them by candlelight or the fireside became an annual tradition, a tradition Valancourt Books is pleased to continue with our series of Victorian Christmas ghost stories. This third volume contains twenty tales, most of them never before reprinted. They represent a mix of the diverse styles and themes common to Victorian ghost fiction and include works by once-popular authors like Ellen Wood and Charlotte Riddell as well as contributions from anonymous or wholly forgotten writers.
Wolf Winter(Svartåsen #1) by Cecilia Ekbäck
Swedish Lapland, 1717. Maija, her husband Paavo and her daughters Frederika and Dorotea arrive from their native Finland, hoping to forget the traumas of their past and put down new roots in this harsh but beautiful land. Above them looms Blackåsen, a mountain whose foreboding presence looms over the valley and whose dark history seems to haunt the lives of those who live in its shadow.
While herding the family’s goats on the mountain, Frederika happens upon the mutilated body of one of their neighbors, Eriksson. The death is dismissed as a wolf attack, but Maija feels certain that the wounds could only have been inflicted by another man. Compelled to investigate despite her neighbors’ strange disinterest in the death and the fate of Eriksson’s widow, Maija is drawn into the dark history of tragedies and betrayals that have taken place on Blackåsen. Young Frederika finds herself pulled towards the mountain as well, feeling something none of the adults around her seem to notice.
As the seasons change, and the “wolf winter,” the harshest winter in memory, descends upon the settlers, Paavo travels to find work, and Maija finds herself struggling for her family’s survival in this land of winter-long darkness. As the snow gathers, the settlers’ secrets are increasingly laid bare. Scarce resources and the never-ending darkness force them to come together, but Maija, not knowing who to trust and who may betray her, is determined to find the answers for herself. Soon, Maija discovers the true cost of survival under the mountain, and what it will take to make it to spring.
The Wolves of Midwinter by Anne Rice
The novel opens on a cold, gray landscape. It is the beginning of December. Oak fires are burning in the stately flickering hearths of Nideck Point. It is Yuletide. For Reuben Golding, now infused with the wolf gift and under the loving tutelage of the Morphenkinder, this Christmas promises to be like no other . . . as he soon becomes aware that the Morphenkinder, steeped in their own rituals, are also celebrating the Midwinter Yuletide festival deep within Nideck forest.
From out of the shadows of the exquisite mansion comes a ghost—tormented, imploring, unable to speak yet able to embrace and desire with desperate affection . . . As Reuben finds himself caught up with the passions and yearnings of this spectral presence and the preparations for the Nideck town Christmas reach a fever pitch, astonishing secrets are revealed, secrets that tell of a strange netherworld, of spirits—centuries old—who possess their own fantastical ancient histories and taunt with their dark, magical powers . . .
Snow by Orhan Pamuk
Following years of lonely political exile in Western Europe, Ka, a middle-aged poet, returns to Istanbul to attend his mother’s funeral. Only partly recognizing this place of his cultured, middle-class youth, he is even more disoriented by news of strange events in the wider country: a wave of suicides among girls forbidden to wear their head scarves at school. An apparent thaw of his writer’s curiosity–a frozen sea these many years–leads him to Kars, a far-off town near the Russian border and the epicenter of the suicides.
No sooner has he arrived, however, than we discover that Ka’s motivations are not purely journalistic; for in Kars, once a province of Ottoman and then Russian glory, now a cultural gray-zone of poverty and paralysis, there is also Ipek, a radiant friend of Ka’s youth, lately divorced, whom he has never forgotten. As a snowstorm, the fiercest in memory, descends on the town and seals it off from the modern, westernized world that has always been Ka’s frame of reference, he finds himself drawn in unexpected directions: not only headlong toward the unknowable Ipek and the desperate hope for love–or at least a wife–that she embodies, but also into the maelstrom of a military coup staged to restrain the local Islamist radicals, and even toward God, whose existence Ka has never before allowed himself to contemplate. In this surreal confluence of emotion and spectacle, Ka begins to tap his dormant creative powers, producing poem after poem in untimely, irresistible bursts of inspiration. But not until the snows have melted and the political violence has run its bloody course will Ka discover the fate of his bid to seize a last chance for happiness.
Christmas Eve on Haunted Hill by Bryan Smith
Ten years ago on Christmas Eve, Silas Herzinger donned a Santa suit and took an axe to 15 members of his extended family. Luke Herzinger, his youngest son, was the sole survivor of the infamous Herzinger Family Massacre. Now, after a decade away, a despondent and suicidal Luke has come home to face his past and battle the evil that still resides in the old family home on Haunted Hill.
*Cover image from Country Living Magazine: https://www.countryliving.com/life/g2819/christmas-quotes/