Top 10 Best Books for Winter

These wonderful, snow-sprinkled stories are perfect for curling up with on a cold winter's day. From dazzling fantasy across frozen plains, to heart-pounding historical fiction, to cosy reads to wrap up warm with, there's something for everyone in this list of the best winter books.

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1. Northern Lights

Philip Pullman

It may technically be a children's book, but this magical tale will appeal to readers of all ages. It follows Lyra and her animal 'daemon' - the animal embodiment of her inner self - who live half-wild and carefree among scholars of Jordan College, Oxford. Lyra's destiny will take her to frozen lands, magical witch-clans and savage ice-bears. Join her on her extraordinary quest, which will have unimaginable consequences far beyond her own world...

2. The World According to Anna

Jostein Gaarder

This captivating read follows 15-year-old Anna, who is haunted by visions of the desolate world of 2082. She sees her great-granddaughter, Nova, roaming through the empty wastelands with a group of survivors. The more she sees, the more she realises she must do something to prevent these grave premonitions from becoming reality - but is she already too late?

3. The Winter Crown

Elizabeth Chadwick

In 1154, Eleanor, Queen of England, bides her time whilst her husband King Henry II battles for land across the channel. Eleanor must stay to be ruler and bearer of royal children, but she wants to be more than this. She loathes the way her husband belittles her, and when he falls for a young mistress, Eleanor is left side-lined - and furious. As her sons grow up, Eleanor is forced into a rebellion of terrible consequences. This enthralling title is riddled with scandal, passion, politics, triumphs and tragedies.

4. A Meal in Winter

Hubert Mingarelli

One morning, in the dead of winter, three German soldiers head into the Polish countryside, commanded to track down and bring back for execution 'one of them': a Jew. They flush out a man hiding in the woods, but decide to rest in an abandoned house before going back to camp. They are soon joined by a passing Pole, whose fervent anti-Semitism adds further tension to an already prickly atmosphere. Each member of the group will have to confront their own conscience as the moral implications of their deadly mission become all too clear.

5. Winter Siege

Ariana Franklin & Samantha Norman

It's 1141 and freezing cold. Gwil, a battle-hardened mercenary, is horrified to find a little girl close to death. She has been attacked, another victim in a winter of atrocities. The frightened child clutches a sliver of parchment, and Gwil is determined to bring her back to life. He will train her to fight and, together, they will hunt down the man who did this to her. But danger lurks behind every corner. Castle after castle falls victim to siege, and rumours abound of a madman, of murder - and of a small piece of parchment with a terrible secret...

6. Midwinter

Fiona Melrose

Father and son Landyn and Vale Midwinter are Suffolk farmers, haunted by a past they can't bear to confront: the death of beloved wife and mother, Cecelia. But something snaps with the onset of a harsh winter. Vale makes increasingly fraught decisions whilst Landyn withdraws, finding comfort in the land, his animals, and a vixen who frequents the farm, seemingly bringing reassurance and protection. A soft, beautiful tale about love and home.

7. Winter Magic

Edited by Abi Elphinstone

This stunning anthology of snow-sprinkled stories will enchant children and adults alike. It features tales by acclaimed children's writers including Michelle Magorian, Lauren St John and Berlie Doherty, with all sorts of winter themes, such as snow queens, frost fairs, snow dragons and pied pipers. This book is an enchanting winter treat, perfect for cosy nights beside a crackling fire.

8. Half the World in Winter

Maggie Joel

London, 1880. Lucas Jarmyn and his family struggle to make sense of the death of his beloved youngest daughter. Only Mrs Logan, the venerable housekeeper, seems able to carry on. Things only get worse when a train accident occurs on the railway Lucas own, and claims the life of a young child. Amid the public outcry, the child's father travels to London seeking justice. When he arrives on a frosty morning, he finds a family with a horrendous secret tearing their lives apart.

9. Winter King

Thomas Penn

Discover the dark and tumultuous reign of Henry VII, in which his young son, Henry, would transform from a vulnerable young boy into the aggressive teenager who would become King Henry VIII, and in which Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII's first wife, would arrive on the soils of England to meet her destiny. At the heart of this tale was the compelling yet tragic figure of Henry VII - controlling, paranoid, covetous, yet conveying an irresistible charm and an unwavering determination to build on his power and wealth.

10. Wolf Winter

Cecilia Ekback

An empty town on Blackasen Mountain comes to life just once, in winter, when the Church summons her people through the snows. But now, it is summer, and new settlers arrive. Their two young daughters find the dead man. The father is away, and the mother will not let it rest. She will dig at the secrets of the mountain, desperate to uncover the truth. They say a wolf made those wounds - but what wild animal cuts a body so cleanly? This dark, heart-pounding mystery will captivate readers.

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    This title is nominated for "Sunday Times", "Daily Telegraph", "TLS", "Financial Times", "Guardian", "Daily Mail" and "Sunday Telegraph" Books Of The Year. "He were a dark prince, and infinitely suspicious, and his times full of secret conspiracies and troubles". (Sir Francis Bacon). In his remarkable debut, Penn vividly recreates the dark and turbulent reign of Henry VII. He traces the transformation of a young, vulnerable boy, Prince Henry, into the aggressive teenager who would become Henry VIII, and of Catherine of Aragon, his future queen. And at the book's heart is the tragic, magnetic figure of Henry VII - controlling, paranoid, avaricious, with a Machiavellian charm and will to power.
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    One morning, in the dead of winter, three German soldiers head out into the frozen Polish countryside. They have been charged by their commanders to track down and bring back for execution 'one of them' - a Jew. Having flushed out a young man hiding in the woods, they decide to rest in an abandoned house before continuing their journey back to the camp. As they prepare food, they are joined by a passing Pole whose virulent anti-Semitism adds tension to an already charged atmosphere. Before long, the group's sympathies begin to splinter as each man is forced to confront his own conscience as the moral implications of their murderous mission become clear.
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    "An absorbing re-creation of the 12th Century ...this is a fast-moving story of humbler folk caught up in cruel battles". (The Independent). "Original, atmospheric and genuinely moving ...captures the imagination and does not let go". (Giles Kristian). It's 1141 and freezing cold. Gwil, a battle-hardened mercenary, is horrified to stumble across a little girl close to death. She has been attacked, just one more victim in a winter of atrocities. Clutching a sliver of parchment, she is terrified - but Gwil knows what he must do. He will bring her back to life. He will train her to fight. And together, they will hunt down the man who did this to her. But danger looms wherever they turn. As castle after castle falls victim to siege, the icy Fens ring with rumours of a madman, of murder - and of a small piece of parchment with a terrible secret to tell, the cost of which none of them could have imagined ...
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    "Without this child, we shall all die." Lyra Belacqua and her animal daemon live half-wild and carefree among scholars of Jordan College, Oxford. The destiny that awaits her will take her to the frozen lands of the Arctic, where witch-clans reign and ice-bears fight. Her extraordinary journey will have immeasurable consequences far beyond her own world...
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    "It is London, 1880, and Lucas Jarmyn struggles to make sense of the death of his beloved youngest daughter; his wife, Aurora, seeks solace in rigid social routines; and his eighteen-year-old daughter Dinah looks for fulfilment in unusual places. Only the housekeeper, the estimable Mrs Logan, seems able to carry on. A train accident in a provincial town on the railway Lucas owns claims the life of a young child and, amid the public outcry, her father journeys to London demanding justice. As he arrives in the city on a frozen January morning he finds a family with a terrible secret tearing their lives apart."
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    'Like a silent fall of snow; suddenly, the reader is enveloped...visually acute, skilfully written; it won't easily erase its tracks in the reader's mind.' HILARY MANTEL, author of Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies There are six homesteads on Blackasen Mountain. A day's journey away lies the empty town. It comes to life just once, in winter, when the Church summons her people through the snows. Then, even the oldest enemies will gather. But now it is summer, and new settlers are come. It is their two young daughters who find the dead man, not half an hour's walk from their cottage. The father is away. And whether stubborn, or stupid, or scared for her girls, the mother will not let it rest. To the wife who is not concerned when her husband does not come home for three days; to the man who laughs when he hears his brother is dead; to the priest who doesn't care; she asks and asks her questions, digging at the secrets of the mountain. They say a wolf made those wounds. But what wild animal cuts a body so clean?
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    It is the winter of 1154 and Eleanor, Queen of England, is biding her time. While her husband King Henry II battles for land across the channel, Eleanor fulfils her duty as acting ruler and bearer of royal children. But she wants to be more than this - if only Henry would let her. Instead, Henry belittles and excludes her, falling for a young mistress and leaving Eleanor side-lined and angry. And as her sons become young men, frustrated at Henry's hoarding of power, Eleanor is forced into a rebellion of devastating consequences. She knows how much Henry needs her, but does Henry know himself Overflowing with scandal, politics, sex, triumphs and tragedies, The Winter Crown is the much-awaited new novel in this trilogy and a rich, compelling story in its own right.
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    Father and Son, Landyn and Vale Midwinter, are Suffolk farmers, living together on land their family has worked for generations. But they are haunted there by a past they have long refused to confront: the death of Cecelia, beloved wife and mother, when Vale was just a child. Both men have carried her loss, unspoken. Until now. With the onset of a mauling winter, something between them snaps. While Vale makes increasingly desperate decisions, Landyn retreats, finding solace in the land, his animals - and a vixen who haunts the farm and seems to bring with her both comfort and protection. Tender and lyrical, alive to language and nature, Midwinter is a novel about guilt, blame, lost opportunities and, ultimately, it is a story about love and the lengths we will go to find our way home.
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    A beautiful and classic anthology of frosty, magical short stories from acclaimed children's writers such as Michelle Magorian, Berlie Doherty, Lauren St John and Katherine Woodfine, and edited by author Abi Elphinstone. Dreamsnatcher's Abi Elphinstone heads up this gorgeous collection of wintery stories, featuring snow queens, frost fairs, snow dragons and pied pipers ...from classic children's writers such as Michelle Magorian, Geraldine McCaughrean, Jamila Gavin, Berlie Doherty, Katherine Woodfine, Piers Torday, Lauren St John, Amy Alward, Michelle Harrison and Emma Carroll. An unmissable, enchanting treat of a collection that will be enjoyed for years to come, by readers of all ages.
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    When fifteen-year-old Anna begins receiving messages from another time, her parents take her to the doctor. But he can find nothing wrong; in fact he believes there may be some truth to what she is seeing. Anna is haunted by visions of the desolate world of 2082. She sees her great-granddaughter, Nova, roaming through wasteland with a band of survivors, after animals and plants have died out. The more Anna sees, the more she realises she must act to prevent the future in her visions becoming real. But can she act quickly enough? 'Compelling' Sunday Times