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5 Supernatural Tales to Scare Away the Christmas Cheer

What’s better than roasting chestnuts on an open fire? How about reading a novel to send shivers up your spine?

The holiday season is almost upon us, and it’s high time we fought back the good cheer and colour with ghosts, goblins, and creatures of the night. The following novels are ideal stories for a cold winter’s night. Each one uses the merry things we love so much at Christmas – snow, family, winter wonderlands – to create tales that would even make Santa Claus quiver in his boots.

Thin Air by Michelle Paver

Thin Air (cover)This book is fascinating, not only for its supernatural elements, but with the doubt it is able to induce within its readers. Are the characters being plagued by ghoulish ghosts of the past? Or is it just mother nature enacting her terrible will? For those of you wondering, here is the premise:

In 1907, five men lost their lives. They were trying to climb Kangchenjunga, the world’s third highest mountain. Now it is 1935, and young medic Stephen Pearce travels with his brother to India. They are determined to do what the other men could not – reach the peak and live to tell the tale. The lone survivor of the fatal 1907 expedition tries to warn them. There is something dark upon the mountain, secrets that are best left undisturbed. Neither man believes him. That is, until the oxygen levels get lower, the climb grows more intense, and the two brothers realise the terrible truth: five men lost their lives, but only four were laid to rest.

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

White is for Witching (cover)Oyeyemi is a master of atmosphere. Whether it is strange, warm, comforting or terrifying, her words can wrap around a reader’s head and transport them to her narrative worlds. This is one of her more haunting stories, weaving the very real trauma of grief with supernatural encounters:

Apples grow in the middle of winter. Creaks echo throughout the halls. The house has changed since Lily passed away. Her husband, Luc, and her twins, Miranda and Eliot, try to understand the mysterious happenings of their home, all while coping with their loss. Miranda especially feels connected to the supernatural occurrences all around her. She can feel generations of women, trapped within the walls, calling out. Then, one dark night, the girl vanishes without a trace, leaving her father and brother behind.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

The Haunting of Hill House (cover)You may have seen the Netflix adaptation of this classic horror text. While that version is spectacular, the original novel is in a league of its own. If you thought being home for Christmas was a good thing, you’ll definitely want to think twice after reading this:

Dr. Montague, Eleanor, Theodora and Luke. Four people searching for unexplained phenomena that dwells within Hill House. Each have their reasons for being there, and each experience otherworldly encounters that they cannot explain. However, this house wants more than to incite fear within its inhabitants. In the dark of night, ghostly hands gather their power – and for one fateful guest, the temptation is too strong to resist.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

The Bear and the Nightingale (cover)While this book is not necessarily a horror, it’s hard to deny that Arden draws on the darker side of fairy tales in this spooky Russian tale. They say that Christmas is all about being with the ones you love. But what if you needed to do something terrible to protect them from harm? This question, and more, is explored in this brilliant novel:

Winter is eternal in the Russian wilderness. Vasilisa does not mind. She spends the freezing nights with her siblings, sat around the open hearth and listening to her nurse’s tales. However, all that changes when her new step-mother arrives. She forbids her family from listening to such fanciful stories, refusing to pay tribute to the spirits who have long since protected the family from evil. In a desperate attempt to save her family from the evil creatures lurking in the forest beyond, Vasilisa must go against the ones she loves. She must use the dangerous gift which she has concealed – no matter the cost.

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

NOS4R2 (cover)What spooky collection would be complete without Joe Hill? This novel is a festive tale that grips you on the edge of your seat like a Saw movie. If you’re looking for a novel that is a cross between a heart-stopping thriller and a B-movie horror romp, definitely consider giving this a try:

Victoria McQueen never forgot Charles Talent Manx. The man who drives a 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith. The man who picks up children with a smile. The man with the ability to travel to the horrifying world of Christmasland, with attractions intended to kill. Victoria is the only child to ever escape Manx’s evil clutches. All grown up, she is determined to move on from her childhood trauma and make use of her own supernatural abilities. But Manx never forgot Victorian McQueen. And now, he has set his eyes on the one thing he can use to draw her back into his grip: Victoria’s son.

Did we miss your favorite spooky holiday reads? Let us know in the comments!

Title image by Alexey Vychugzhanin.

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