Top Ten Tuesday: Wintry Reads

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Everyone is welcome to join in the fun.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am not a massive seasonal reader. I don’t need to read Christmassy books at Christmas (in fact, this month is usually spent catching up on books I said I’d read that year that I haven’t!) However, sometimes I do like to pick up a seasonal read to get me in the mood.

I did a list a little like this one last year – and I’m not allowed to include any of those books, even though they’d all be perfect. I’ve tried to pick books across genres and age ranges to suit a range of tastes, but they’ve largely ended up as fantasy recommendations as that’s the main genre I read.

1. A SNOWFALL OF SILVER, by Laura Wood

A SNOWFALL OF SILVER is a deliciously funny UKYA historical novel with a dash of romance (it’s billed as historical romance, but honestly, the romance was only part of this coming of age story). It follows Freya, a Cornish girl who comes to London and joins a travelling theatre who are performing across England in December 1931. Technically, it’s a companion novel to A SKY PAINTED GOLD (also a brilliant book) but it can be read alone.

I read this back in October and it perfectly conjured up snowy days and a crackling fire – and I kinda wish I’d left it for this month!

2. DASH AND LILY’S BOOK OF DARES, by David Leviathan and Rachel Cohen

Book cover for DASH AND LILY'S BOOK OF DARES: title as a signpost surrounded by snow

DASH AND LILY’S BOOK OF DARES is the one of the few books I habitually read every year. In this contemporary YA romance, Dash and Lily fall in love as they pass a notebook hidden on a bookshop shelf between each other, sharing their lives as winter grips New York. But will they like their real counterparts as much as they do the written versions?

This book is both funny and cosy, and how I like to kick off the mania that is the two weeks of visting friends and family that usually constitutes my Christmas. And it’s now a Netflix series so you can curl up with either the book or the show (or both!)

3. THE WINTER DUKE, by Claire Eliza Bartlett

Book cover for THE WINTER DUKE: title in yellow on black next to block blue flowers

THE WINTER DUKE is a stunning YA political fantasy released earlier this year about a girl who suddenly becomes Duke of her ice-bound home when her whole family succumb to a curse. With enemies approaching beyond her city walls, her father’s council working against her, and the magic under-lake-realm to balance, Etta has her work cut out for her if she’s to survive long enough to work out who cursed her family – and why she alone wasn’t attacked.

The setting is a cold city on a lake (I was shivering as I read it) with an intriguing magical city underneath the permanently frozen surface.

4. FATHER CHRISTMAS, by Raymond Briggs

Book cover for FATHER CHRISTMAS: a pencil drawn Father Christmas under the title

This one is a bit of a family tradition in my family – and there was great outrage one year when a nameless parent gave our copy away to another family leading to a scramble to get ourselves a replacement!

While we’ve now all read this graphic novel countless time that the jokes have lost their edge, it’s still constantly referenced and one we will all snuggle up with at some point this month. A grouchy Father Christmas delivers presents across the world on Christmas Day, and there’s a cartoon of this/its companion from the same people who did The Snowman (I think same company?)

5. THE STARLESS SEA, by Erin Morgenstern

Maybe it’s simply because I read this over New Year last year, but THE STARLESS SEA is inherently wintry in my mind now. I seem to recall the in-our-world part was set in a New York winter, but that might just be mentally overlaying it.

I know this book did take me quite a while to read, and it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, as it is more literary leaning than I tend to like. I am planning on re-reading at some point, to see if I enjoy it more in hindsight because that often helps with books that are out of my comfort zone. However, if you like books where the style is an integral part of the reading experience and stories nested inside others, then try this book out for size!

6. SKY SONG, by Abi Elphingstone

Book cover for SLY SONG: Title above painted icebergs floating before the northern lights

SKY SONG is an absolutely gorgeous book from UKMG stalwart Abi Elphingstone. If you like MG but haven’t heard of her, it’s time to change that right now!

Set in an arctic land, this is a tale that tackles the subject of grief in a very subtle but powerful way. On the surface, this is a fantasy adventure about friendship and toppling an evil ruler, but underneath is a deftly woven, complex exploration of the pervasiveness of grief. Plus the prose is really lyrical and the book is short enough to devour in one day (as you might be looking at your reading challenge progress for the year and needing to quickly up it!)

7. BLOOD HEIR, by Amelie Wen Zhao

BLOOD HEIR is a YA Fantasy retelling of Anastasia set in an ice-bound kingdom and perfect for those wanting a darker fantasy to read. The sequel, RED TIGRESS, is out next year, soon-ish(?) I think, so if you need to remind yourself what happened, why not re-read over the winter?

Princess Anastacya is reviled for blood magic affinity and blamed for her father’s murder, but that’s not about to stop her finding out the truth, and getting her revenge. On the run, she discovered that the world outside the palace is very different to the life she knew, and corruption grips the land – and trusting a crime lord might not be the best idea…


This is a slightly odd recommendation in that I am only counting the first two books for this list as they are the deeply wintry ones. The series also changes tone after this, with it getting darker in the next two (and more expansive), and then the end of the series is very adult in content.

However, THRONE OF GLASS and CROWN OF MIDNIGHT are set in winter, following an assassin brought to the castle of the vicious conqueror to take part in a competition to win her freedom from the mines – if she works for him to perpetuate his reign.

This series has been on my to-re-read list for ages now, but I doubt I’m going to find time this month. Maybe next year?

9. GIRLS MADE OF SNOW AND GLASS, by Melissa Bashardoust

Book cover for GIRLS MADE OF SNOW AND GLASS: title in white in front of icicles on a black background

GIRLS MADE OF SNOW AND GLASS is Melissa Barshardoust’s debut, a wintry reimagining of Snow White that focuses on the relationship with Snow White and the Evil Queen that plays a lot with the well-known tale. Instead, we get a dual timeline retelling of the Evil Queen becoming the said queen alongside a very different version of the fairy tale.

The Evil Queen’s half is a very compelling tragic tale, not because it’s written as a descent to evil (it’s not really that at all), but because there’s a persistent spark of hope that clings to her as the world fights against her desire to establish herself.

10. THE WAY PAST WINTER, by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Cover for THE WAY PAST WINTER: A girl without a face in a white dress decorated with snowflakes, a bear, a bird and the title

THE WAY PAST WINTER is a short read from an absolute powerhouse UK author who write across MG, YA, and Adult, and across genres too.

When strangers shelter with Mila’s siblings for the night, she wakes to find her brother missing and so sets out on a quest with her sisters to find the land past winter where he lives.

This was a really cute book that felt like stepping into a fairy tale where icicles hang from trees and the snow is thick underneath sleigh runners as you journey with Mila in desperate pursuit of family.

Want more wintry recommendations? I also wrote lists in 2019 and 2021.

10 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Wintry Reads

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