Have you ever noticed how many books have the word ‘winter’ in the title and how you automatically respond to these titles with a feeling of chilling mist, dark days and an instinctive impulse to go inside where it’s warm?
They appear across genres; Romance, Apocalyptic, Horror, Crime Thrillers, you name it. Even for me, someone who grew up in a place that seldom sees snow, the mention of winter in a title brings visions of cold, snowy days and murky skies, warm fireplaces and hot chocolate to bring warmth and comfort.
Just as ghost stories are popular in the months leading up to Christmas, stories with winter settings bring out a primal need for protection, whether it is from the elements themselves or something lurking within them. Monster stories in particular are more effective in the cold, where the protagonist is caught between the basic survival impulse to find shelter and the threat of the monster itself. Apocalyptic stories often utilise the hardships of a long winter to add to whatever other difficulties the characters have to face.
In Romance, getting inside from the cold brings a different form of comfort where words and phrases like cozy and good company give the story that warm, safe ambiance conducive to developing a new relationship with an interesting person sharing that warm space.
Even children’s stories associate wintertime as dark and mysterious, a time when magical beings come out of cold fantasylands to help or hinder the child characters in the story. From an early age, we learn from stories to look for the hidden enchantment in the snowy realms we may not have ever experienced in real life.
Sometimes the word ‘winter’ is used in a title to denote sadness in the tale, as is speculated about Shakespeare’s choice of title, The Winter’s Tale and in Silent Winterby Maggie James. In my own second Steampunk novel still in progress, the word ‘winter’ appears in the title to indicate both progression of a series and new realms of hardships for certain characters who are enjoying further development from their roles in the first book of the series, The Wake of the Dragon.
The cold season can become effectively a character in a story. Who hasn’t heard the phrase, “Winter’s coming” from Game of Thrones? As fans eagerly await the next book in the series, The Winds of Winter, they’ve been well primed with that phrase so often that the mention of winter in the title tells us that something is coming to a climax in this instalment. Those of us who followed the television series know some of what is coming, but the rushed final episodes suggest there is far more detail to come in the books and hopefully some wrapping up of loose ends.
Do you read seasonally? Outside of holidays, do you tend to read books set in the season in progress outside of your window? Or do you read cross-seasonally, cooling down in summer with a story involving a winter storm or warming up in the cold months with something in a desert or beach setting?
Let’s curl up with a good book and talk about stories we’ve read to get us through the dark and cold months of the year.
Books available at: