Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Melting

As I’m sure is the case for lots of you, I’m not happy when the lows are over eighty and the highs over ninety every day for weeks on end, especially because our humidity in southern MO is permanently stuck on “sauna” from June through September.

Ugh, this weather! I walk all the dogs at six in the morning because it’s barely bright enough to read on my Kindle while walking them. I can manage three dogs on flexi-leads in one hand and hold a Kindle in the other hand, incidentally, without having to pause to untangle them more than a couple of times per walk, which takes considerable practice.

Anyway, as I say, I walk them at dawn, in sets of three. I need the exercise and they like to sniff around, though it’s not much exercise for them. Then we all stay indoors until dusk. At dusk, the puppies go out and run in mad circles for an hour in the immense yard, incidentally often finding burr plants even though I thought I’d gotten rid of all the burr plants last month. The older dogs think the puppies are nuts and remain indoors, lying in front of air conditioning vents.

None of this is actually a complaint. This year — knock on wood — we are getting significant rain rather than having a three-to-five-month drought, so YAY for that. It’s just, ugh, what unpleasant weather.

This is the time of year I want to read books with COLD, WINTRY settings. There are zillions of them. Let me see if I can put together a good list.

Science Fiction Winter Novels: I KNOW there are many, or at least some, that I am forgetting. What’s that one Poul Anderson wrote? With ice ships? Anybody recall? If you think of any other SF novels with frozen settings, drop them in the comments, please. The same goes for the other categories, obviously.

  1. Fallen Angels by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
  2. The Snow Queen by Joan Vinge, which of course has one of the all-time great Michael Whelan covers:

Fantasy Winter Novels: SO MANY. Here the trick is to stop.

  1. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, obviously.
  2. Mapping Winter by Marta Randall
  3. Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett
  4. Tuyo

Magical Realism Winter Novels: I can only think of one. But, wow, winter.

  1. Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin

Mystery Winter Novels: Huge numbers, but here are a few. I particularly appreciate setting in mystery novels — setting and character — the mystery itself is not as important to me, but I do think these are good overall mystery novels too.

  1. In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming
  2. Winter’s Child by Margaret Maron
  3. Icy Clutches by Aaron Elkins
  4. A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny

Romance Winter Novels: Obviously a million trapped-by-the-snow romances, but here are a handful that come to mind.

  1. Snow Kissed by Laura Florand
  2. Season for Surrender by Theresa Romaine
  3. A Kiss for Midwinter by Courtney Milan
  4. A Rose in Winter by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss

Suspense Winter Novels: I don’t know quite whether to call this suspense or horror. I really liked it, either way.

  1. The Silent Land by Graham Joyce

YA Winter Novels: Obviously a bunch, but this is one I loved and read over and over when I was a kid.

  1. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

Please drop any favorite novels with winter settings in the comments, because I’m sure we could all use help cooling off here in the middle of summer.

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16 Comments Melting

  1. Rachel

    OF COURSE Left Hand. And almost as much OF COURSE for The Dark is Rising — I have no idea how I could have forgotten that one; I read it a bunch of times.

    ALSO I now remember one of my very favorite romances, Softly Falling by Carla Kelly, which is like Wilder’s The Long Winter — historical setting on the Great Plains, terrible winter. I can’t understand why I didn’t think of that first out of all possible winter romance novels.

  2. Craig N.

    Anderson’s _The Winter of the World_ is set thousands of years in the future during the next glaciation. But I don’t recall ice ships being prominent, so you may be thinking of something else in his extensive bibliography.

    John Barnes’ _A Million Open Doors_ is set on a cold planet, but it has less of a wintery feel to it. I’m having surprising trouble coming up with other SF novels set on iceworlds.

    Even if you didn’t want to include two of your own books on the fantasy list, somebody ought to mention _Winter of Ice and Iron_

  3. Hanneke

    An older Anne McCaffrey: A stitch in snow. A gentle romance with an older woman as the main character; not fantasy, just people stuck at an airport hotel during a snowstorm.

  4. Charlotte Taylor

    My mind works the same way as yours! My personal winter favorites are Moominland Midwinter and Winter Holiday, by Arthur Ransome.
    I’ve made three lists of cold books over the years at my place–https://charlotteslibrary.blogspot.com/2008/06/cool-books-with-which-to-escape-summer.html
    https://charlotteslibrary.blogspot.com/2010/07/cold-fantasy-for-hot-summers-day-part-2.html
    https://charlotteslibrary.blogspot.com/2012/07/cold-fantasy-for-hot-summers-day.html

  5. mona

    Deerskin (partially anyway)
    Cambias’s A Darkling Sea
    Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale (& sequels)
    Novik’s Spinning Silver
    Brennan’s A Natural History of Dragons (mostly)
    Pretty much any Beauty or Swan Lake retelling

  6. Rachel

    Thanks for the links, Charlotte! I will definitely check those out — especially Moominland Midwinter.

  7. Rachel

    Craig, maybe it wasn’t Anderson after all. I could swear I remember ice ships and an alien species with, basically, natural blades like skate blades on their feet. I wonder what book that was?

  8. Elaine T

    Second Winter Rose . There’s Rohan’s Winter of the World but it’s not exclusively wintery, it’s set in an Ice Age. J.M. Ney-Grimm has several stories set in wintery lands, such as Winter Glory, and a fair amount of Troll Magic is wintery. The latter is the book that someone described as having no villains.

    I don’t recognize the ice ship story.

  9. Craig N.

    Right: the skates tickled my memory. _Icerigger_ by Alan Dean Foster: I haven’t read it, but the Tran are in Barlowe’s Guide to Extraterrestrials.

  10. Hanneke

    Seconding Charlotte’s choices. Yes, I didn’t think of children’s books, but I love the Moomin books and Moominland Midwinter is my favorite of those, and Arthur Ransome’s Winter Holiday is one of my favorites of his children’s books.

    The J.M Ney-Grimm Nordic fantasy tales that Elaine mentions are good too, and set in a cold Nordic climate, with a fairytale / folktale feeling.

    McKinley’s Winter Rose wasn’t my favorite Beauty and the Beast retelling, but it is very wintery.

  11. Hanneke

    Seconding Charlotte’s choices. Yes, I didn’t think of children’s books, but I love the Moomin books and Moominland Midwinter is my favorite of those, and Arthur Ransome’s Winter Holiday is one of my favorites of his children’s books.

    The J.M Ney-Grimm Nordic fantasy tales that Elaine mentions are good too, and set in a cold Nordic climate, with a fairytale / folktale feeling.

    McKinley’s Winter Rose wasn’t my favorite Beauty and the Beast retelling, but it is very wintery.

    Pratchett had a wintery Tiffany Aching book, Wintersmith. Hogfather had winter too, but I disliked it, never reread it and have forgotten the details.

    Some of Cherryh’s Fortress series was set in a cold winter, but not all of it.

    An old German high-school reading list winter book which I enjoyed was “Three men in the snow” by Erich Kästner, a gentle comedy-of-errors with a little romance from 1934 – there’s even an old film made from it.

  12. Kathryn McConaughy

    LMB’s “Weatherman” in Borders of Infinity. Also, East of the Sun / West of the Moon retellings.

  13. Rachel

    Oh, well, I was totally wrong about the author. Oops. I wonder which other book by Anderson I might have been thinking of … perhaps something with an alien that was in Barlowe’s Guide to Extraterrestrials, which I certainly remember.

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