2016 04 10 Kristin Dearborn Top 10

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Top 10 Winter Horror Novels

Written by Kristin Dearborn


As a New Englander, I am no stranger to snow. Winter in Vermont lasts from November until April (or May…) and the days are short and grey, the nights long and snowy. This is one of my favorite settings for a horror story. The weather has a way of conspiring against characters. Sometimes it literally traps them, sometimes the grey gloom is a sponge, drawing off any cheer or optimism. Cabin fever sets in. Things get stabby. Below are ten of my favorite winter horror books. 

The Boy Who Drew Monsters Keith Donohue CoverBuy Amazon Us

The Boy who Drew Monsters by Keith Donohue

Jack Peter is a ten-year-old autistic boy who, after a near-drowning experience, refuses to leave his home. Donohue's book examines Jack Peter's parents' decaying marriage; his strained friendship with Nick, the only kid who'll come around anymore; and his newest obsession with drawing monsters. When Jack Peter draws monsters, his parents and Nick start to see things. First only out of the corners of their eyes, but then, closer. The book is a slow burn and ramps to a satisfying ending over a snowy, isolated Christmas vacation. Bonus points for being set in Maine. Points deducted for audiobook narrator Bronson Pinchot (who is my favorite) not knowing how to pronounce Machias.


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Night of the Wendigo by William Meikle

Meikle brings the cold to Manhattan in Night of the Wendigo. Archeologists find a boat in the Hudson River from 1605, and when it is unearthed, a storm unlike any other rolls in and cripples New York. The story combines the fate of the 1605 ship captain with the fate of a few hearty New Yorkers. The Wendigo can animate the dead and control the weather. Bonus points for ice zombies. Points deducted for some flimsy characters.


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Ghost Story by Peter Straub

The Chowder society is made up of four old men who like to tell stories. Unfortunately, they hold a secret between them. A secret which won't stay buried. This book is very literary and a very slow burn. Stephen King calls it one of the best horror novels of the '70s due to its rich cast of characters, intricate, deliberate plotting, and stunning prose. Bonus points for an almost hallucinogenic element of supernatural terror. Points deducted for some pacing issues.


Snow Ronald Malfi CoverBuy Amazon Us

Snow by Ron Malfi

All Todd wants is to fly home to be with his son for Christmas. As often happens with winter travel, the flight is cancelled. He and a group of other travelers decide to drive through the storm instead. Along the way, they pick up a hitchhiker…it all goes south after that. They wind up in an isolated, Rockwellian small town, which seems deserted. It's not. There's something in the snow. And it's hungry. Bonus points for some really gruesome deaths. Points deducted for character development not quite standing up to the rest of the book.


30 Days Of Night Steve Niles Ben Templesmith CoverBuy Amazon Us

30 Days of Night by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith

Imagine a place without sun, where vampires can flourish for a month without a care in the world. Barrows, Alaska, is that place. These aren't mopey Interview with the Vampire vampires or sparkly Twilight vampires. These are monsters through and through, terrifying with huge, nasty teeth. A small town sheriff is all that stands between them and his townspeople. The story and the art are fantastic and have a way of sticking in your mind. Bonus points for delivering some scary vampires. More bonus points for really nasty artwork. It's a very unique aesthetic.


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Snowblind by Christopher Golden

A New England town, a huge blizzard strangely reminiscent of a catastrophic storm 12 years ago. Haunting figures stealing people away into the storm. Families are torn apart in these storms, and characters must prove who they are, if they can handle the pressure or if they cave to it. No one is left unchanged. The careful exploration of characters' psychological states through the story elevates the book to the next level. Great small town story, this book planted the seeds for Woman in White. Bonus points for a slow reveal of the monsters.


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Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft

Lovecraft steps out of New England and all the way to Antarctica for this tale of a geological survey mission gone horribly wrong. A 1930's scientific expedition discovers more than it bargains for in the frozen landscape and sets out to explore the abandoned city they find. This is the home of the Old Ones and has been on earth far longer than mankind. However, the city may not be deserted after all. Love him or hate him, HPL is the undisputed master of cosmic horror, and this novella showcases this aspect of his work at its finest. Bonus points for the ambiance and sense of dread. Points deducted for Lovecraftian purple prose.


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Who Goes There? by John Campbell Jr.

Scientists isolated in Antarctica (again!) uncover an alien spacecraft and find one of its passengers frozen in the ice. When the ice melts, they learn the organism isn't dead after all. Claustrophobia and paranoia drench the book. Although John Carpenter's 1982 The Thing is a remake of the 1950's Thing from Another World, his film is much closer to Campbell's story than the movie. Written in 1938, the book reads a little pulpy at times, but terrifying the rest of the time. Bonus points for the atmosphere. Points deducted for adverbs. So many of them.


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The Shining by Stephen King

Alcoholic novelist Jack Torrance wants to start over with his family so he takes on a job as winter caretaker for the Overlook Hotel nestled high in the Rockies. He's warned about the last caretaker who killed his family, but Jack's a smart guy. He's going to work on his writing, he and his wife can play with their son Danny…what could possibly go wrong? Things are great until the snow starts, trapping the family in the well-stocked hotel. But the hotel and Jack have a special connection, and it won't stop unit it gets what it wants. Bonus points for traumatizing me with the wasp scene. Gah.


The Terrror Dan Simmons CoverBuy Amazon Us

The Terror by Dan Simmons

Ships HMS Terror and HMS Erberus are searching for the Northwest Passage and have become stuck in the ice. The men are restless. The rations are spoiling because of cost cutting measures back home. Everyone is hungry. Scurvy runs rampant. And something…big enough to kill a polar bear…is hunting the men on the ships. This is a long book, and slogging through the descriptions of miserable cold, hunger and boredom mixed with terror makes the reader feel like they're stuck in the ice with the crews of these two ships. That sounds like a bad thing, but it's not. Bonus points for an amazing chase through the icy rigging of the ship. More bonus points for Lady Silence. Points deducted for overlong fever dream sequences.


Readers, what's your favorite book to curl up with in a blizzard? Let me know in the comments!


If it screams, squelches, or bleeds, Kristin Dearborn has probably written about it. She's written books such as Sacrifice Island (DarkFuse), Trinity (DarkFuse), and had fiction published in several magazines and anthologies. Stolen Away was recently a limited edition offered from Thunderstorm Books, which sold out. She revels in comments like "But you look so normal...how do you come up with that stuff?" A life-long New Englander, she aspires to the footsteps of the local masters, Messrs. King and Lovecraft. When not writing or rotting her brain with cheesy horror flicks (preferably creature features!), she can be found scaling rock cliffs or zipping around Vermont on a motorcycle, or gallivanting around the globe. Find more on Kristin at http://kristindearborn.com/.

HorrorTalk would like to thank Kristin for stopping by and sharing her favorite winter horrors! You can pick up her latest novel, Woman in White, by clicking one of the links below. Also, make sure you follow along the publicity tour with these hashtags: #WomaninWhite #DarkFuse #IcyHorror

Rocky Rhodes, Maine.


As a fierce snowstorm descends upon the sleepy little town, a Good Samaritan stops to help a catatonic woman sitting in the middle of the icy road, and is never seen or heard from again. When the police find his car, it is splattered in more blood than the human body can hold.


While the storm rages on, the wave of disappearances continue, the victims sharing only one commonality: they are all male. Now it's up to three young women to figure out who or what is responsible: a forensic chemist, a waitress struggling with an abusive boyfriend, and a gamer coping with the loss of her lover.


Their search will lead them on a journey filled with unspeakable horrors that are all connected to a mysterious Woman in White.

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