There is a contingent of readers and writers trying to bring back the Christmas tradition of telling ghost stories around the fireplace. After all, A Christmas Carol is really a ghost story, and Christmas does fall during the darkest time of the year.
And with the Icelandic tradition jolabokaflod taking hold here too, a good stack of ghastly reads — mysteries, murders and mayhem — is just the thing for the season.
An arctic adventure story with a ghostly appearance is a classic often included in collections.
You can also find it for free here.
The Winter People
I’ve recommended this a number of times. I read and reviewed it when it came out and it truly terrified me. It is brilliantly simple but so eerie.
If you want something more tense, this psychological thriller is excellent. A son gets a call from his mother saying his father is trying to kill her. Then he gets a call from the father asking if he has heard from her. It gets scarier from there.
Not sure where to start? This hefty collection breaks its stories into the following categories: Unscrupulous Santas, Crimes of Christmases Past and Present, Festive Felonies, Deadly Puddings, and Misdemeanors Under the Mistletoe.
Another novel I can’t recommend highly enough. It’s the first in a series of the Erast Fandorin books. Set in Imperial Russia (late Victorian), Fandorin is a Sherlock-like detective navigating complicated Moscow society while solving bizarre crimes.
This is a brilliant, searingly creepy, psychological thriller — reminiscent of A Rose for Emily. The narrator, Holly, is a wife and mother, preparing for a perfect Christmas Day. But something followed them home.
The author recounts the (un)real true story of a group of Russian hikers lost in the Ural Mountains. Their camp site is found with many mysterious clues as to how they ultimately died. Though the book makes a compelling case, the final solution remains unknown.
In search of some ghost stories that aren’t winter-themed? I recently read this collection and loved it. She is more well-known for her society romance / dramas but these stories are unnervingly charming.
Another fabulous collection, perfect for entertaining. They get into your head and rattle around, like a ghost clinking its chains.
Many of Irving’s stories were meant to be told around a fireside, including one called “The Christmas Dinner.” You can read it online for free, or find it in a number of his collected works. His ghost stories and folktales, aside from Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle are WELL worth reading.
G Do you have a favorite winter ghost story? S