There is a contingent of readers and writers trying to bring back the Christmas tradition of telling ghost stories around the fireplace. After all, A Christmas Carol is really a ghost story, and Christmas does fall during the darkest time of the year.

Colin Dickey’s case for the Christmas ghost story

And with the Icelandic tradition jolabokaflod taking hold here too, a good stack of ghastly reads  — mysteries, murders and mayhem — is just the thing for the season.

The Captain of the Pole-star
Arthur Conan Doyle

An arctic adventure story with a ghostly appearance is a classic often included in collections.

You can also find it for free here.

The Winter People
Jennifer McMahon

I’ve recommended this a number of times. I read and reviewed it when it came out and it truly terrified me. It is brilliantly simple but so eerie. 

The Farm
Tom Rob Smith

If you want something more tense, this psychological thriller is excellent. A son gets a call from his mother saying his father is trying to kill her. Then he gets a call from the father asking if he has heard from her. It gets scarier from there. 

The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries
Otto Penzler

Not sure where to start? This hefty collection breaks its stories into the following categories: Unscrupulous Santas, Crimes of Christmases Past and Present, Festive Felonies, Deadly Puddings, and Misdemeanors Under the Mistletoe. 

The Winter Queen
Boris Akunin

Another novel I can’t recommend highly enough. It’s the first in a series of the Erast Fandorin books. Set in Imperial Russia (late Victorian), Fandorin is a Sherlock-like detective navigating complicated Moscow society while solving bizarre crimes. 

Mind of Winter
Laura Kasischke

This is a brilliant, searingly creepy, psychological thriller — reminiscent of A Rose for Emily. The narrator, Holly, is a wife and mother, preparing for a perfect Christmas Day. But something followed them home. 

Dead Mountain
Donnie Eichar

The author recounts the (un)real true story of a group of Russian hikers lost in the Ural Mountains. Their camp site is found with many mysterious clues as to how they ultimately died. Though the book makes a compelling case, the final solution remains unknown.  

The Ghost Stories
Edith Wharton

In search of some ghost stories that aren’t winter-themed? I recently read this collection and loved it. She is more well-known for her society romance / dramas but these stories are unnervingly charming. 

The Phantom Coach: A Connoisseur’s Collection of Victorian Ghost Stories
Michael Sims

Another fabulous collection, perfect for entertaining. They get into your head and rattle around, like a ghost clinking its chains. 

History, Tales and Sketches
Washington Irving

Many of Irving’s stories were meant to be told around a fireside, including one called “The Christmas Dinner.” You can read it online for free, or find it in a number of his collected works. His ghost stories and folktales, aside from Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle are WELL worth reading. 

 G Do you have a favorite winter ghost story? S


6 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Ghostly winter reads”

  1. Yes, The Winter People! I really liked M.R. James’ ghost stories when I read them a few years ago. I don’t think they’re specifically wintry, but I believe that’s when I read them. I also tend to associate The Woman in Black with winter reading.

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