Cold fantasy for a hot summer's day--revisited with new additions

My heart goes out to all of you suffering in the horrible heat here in the US. We are not particularly suffering in southern New England at the moment, but it will doubtless get hot again here too. So I am offering a small potential solace--beautifully cold fantasy books--the sort with Winter, and Snow, and freezing damp. On a hot summer day like today, these are exactly the sort of books I want to curl up with. My favorite beach reads are all ice.

Back in 2010, I compiled two lists of Cold Fantasy (here's the one for younger readers, here's the one for older readers). I've just gone through my reviews for the last two years, and extracted more recommendations of books with which to escape from the heat.

Breadcrumbs, by Anne Ursu (middle grade), is all about the snow and ice (being a retelling of The Snow Queen, this is to be expected). The cover in itself cools one down.

And even more intense breath of arctic air comes with Icefall, by Matthew Kirby (middle grade)--what better place to be when it's 100 degrees outside than snowbound in a Norwegian fjord? Yeah, there's a murderer snowbound with you--but at least it isn't too hot.

Another beautifully cold cover is Witchlander, by Lena Coakley (YA), and there's lots of snowy good times (kind of. In an isolated, lonely way). This is one that I think needs to somehow make into the hands of more young teen boy readers, though I enjoyed it lots myself.

The Snowstorm, by Beryl Nethercliff, is an older time slip story that takes place mostly indoors ...but the titular snowstorm does make an appropriately chilly appearance!

Winterling, by Sarah Prineas, is of course all about the snow and cold--lovely! It's a good story too, perfect for handing to your wilting 11 year old.

City of Ice, by Laurence Yep, delivers what it promises, taking the reader to a place that is cold indeed, where Canadian mounties patrol the skies riding on the backs of giant birds, among other marvels.

The Crowfield Curse, by Pat Walsh, is a lovely escape into the unpleasantness of a medieval winter...in a monastery, so even chillier than one might expect! And its sequel, The Crowfield Demon, is set in medieval March, so plenty of damp chilliness and never being warm. These are middle grade, but stand up very well to reading by an adult-- I recommend both of these enthusiastically to anyone who likes good historical fantasy, not just because they make you appreciate having dry, warm, feet.

Cold Magic, by Kate Elliot (marketed to grown-ups), is described by its author as an "Afro-Celtic post-Roman icepunk Regency novel with airships, Phoenician spies, and the intelligent descendants of troodons." It's also cold, though not consistently so...If my memory serves, it gets warmer by the end. So maybe more of a September reading book.

For those who want "horror in cold weather" I suggest The Toymaker, by Jeremy de Quidt. Ostensibly for young readers, but I kind of wish I hadn't read it. It is chilling in both senses of the word.

Anyone else read any good cold books recently?


  1. I agree with you about Witchlanders, sadly, I don't think a book with that cover will appeal to boys. I remember being so shocked when I started reading it and realized the protagonist was MALE and it had nothing, really, to do with the girl's face on the cover. The cover is way too girly for boys to look at twice, I think.

    So many others on this list are already on my wishlist, but I have just added more. I should learn to not look at blogs that cost me money (ha) all in one day. Yikes!

    1. Yup, I get such looks from the boys at my library when I try to suggest Witchlanders. One boy (ONE!) trusted me and read the book, and enjoyed it very much.

    2. Such a pity! I'd hoped they'd get a different image for the paperback, but it seems to be the same...

  2. Ooh, The Toymaker sounds excellent. I would have zero clue that Witchlanders had a male protagonist. Interesting idea for a list!

  3. Thanks for updating this list, Charlotte! The Horn Book gathered some authors' favorite cold-weather reads awhile back, too--I think they meant them to be read in cold weather, but I prefer your idea. Winter is for books with gardening in them. I'm going to mention a book for grownups--The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey--because it's based on a Russian fairy tale, one of my favorites.

    1. Oh yes--I'd meant to read that when I first heard of it, but it never happened...I shall add it to my list!

  4. Brrr, I love it! I could definitely use some cold weather books in my life right now. Icefall has been on my TBR for so long it's shameful (I even checked it out once and still I haven't read it).

  5. What a great idea for a summer reading theme! I loved Breadcrumbs; haven't read any of the others yet. For MG, my cold-weather recommendation would be Wolf Storm by Dee Garretson. Child actors trapped in a blizzard--with wolves. Yikes!

  6. Late to this, but finally thought of one! The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer.


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