The weather outside is frightful, but if there’s one thing that is always delightful, it’s a good book. No matter whether your winter is one of snow or sun, there’s plenty of fun to be had indoors, novel in hand and holiday-themed beverages at the ready. If you’re looking to indulge in some of that snowy atmosphere, here are ten historical fiction novels that are set in winter that are sure to satisfy any taste.
10 Historical Novels for When the Weather Outside is Frightful
Take a journey to the dark and treacherous Yukon, where a recent discovery of gold draws in Liza Peterson and her family, looking to move their general store in order to make money off the gold rush. But after a tragic accident along the way, Liza is forced to complete the trip on her own, meeting Constable Ben Turner, who is trying to keep Dawson City together. AT THE MOUNTAIN’S EDGE is a tale of love and adventure about starting anew, even in the wake of terrible tragedy and strife.
From bestselling author Genevieve Graham comes a sweeping new historical novel of love, tragedy, and redemption set during the height of the Klondike Gold Rush.
In 1897, the discovery of gold in the desolate reaches of the Yukon has the world abuzz with excitement, and thousands of prospectors swarm to the north seeking riches the likes of which have never been seen before.
For Liza Peterson and her family, the gold rush is a chance for them to make a fortune by moving their general store business from Vancouver to Dawson City, the only established town in the Yukon. For Constable Ben Turner, a recent recruit of the North-West Mounted Police, upholding the law in a place overrun with guns, liquor, prostitutes, and thieves is an opportunity to escape a dark past and become the man of integrity he has always wanted to be. But the long, difficult journey over icy mountain passes and whitewater rapids is much more treacherous than Liza or Ben imagined, and neither is completely prepared for the forbidding north.
As Liza’s family nears the mountain’s peak, a catastrophe strikes with fatal consequences, and not even the NWMP can help. Alone and desperate, Liza finally reaches Dawson City, only to find herself in a different kind of peril. Meanwhile, Ben, wracked with guilt over the accident on the trail, sees the chance to make things right. But just as love begins to grow, new dangers arise, threatening to separate the couple forever.
Inspired by history as rich as the Klondike’s gold, At the Mountain’s Edge is an epic tale of romance and adventure about two people who must let go of the past not only to be together, but also to survive.
On a snowy night in 1890s London, a seamstress jumps to her death, a cryptic message literally stitched into her skin. Thus the mystery of her demise, and its connection to a slew of missing women, begins. The case brings together three unlikely allies: the sharp and wry Inspector Cutter, lovesick college dropout Gideon Bliss, and aspiring journalist Octavia Hillingdon. Together, they’ll uncover dark secrets and surprising twists that will take them to a mysterious and peculiar abode, the titular Vesper Sands. Dark, smart, and cutting, THE HOUSE ON VESPER SANDS is a must-read for any mystery fan in the mood for a winter-themed whodunit.
Amy Snow was abandoned in the dead of winter, saved by eight-year-old Aurelia Vennaway, who convinces her horrified parents to keep the child. But when Aurelia mysteriously dies at the age of twenty-three, Amy finds herself without a home and with only ten pounds to her name. But soon she finds out Aurelia has left her with more than that: she has an inheritance and a mystery to unravel. A Dickensian-style tale of a poor, young orphan struggling to find out who she is, AMY SNOW is the kind of harrowing but ultimately endearing adventure to warm any heart.
Winner of the UK’s Richard & Judy Search for a Bestseller Competition, this page-turning debut novel follows an orphan whose late, beloved best friend bequeaths her a treasure hunt that leads her all over Victorian England and finally to the one secret her friend never shared.
It is 1831 when eight-year-old Aurelia Vennaway finds a naked baby girl abandoned in the snow on the grounds of her aristocratic family’s magnificent mansion. Her parents are horrified that she has brought a bastard foundling into the house, but Aurelia convinces them to keep the baby, whom she names Amy Snow. Amy is brought up as a second-class citizen, despised by Vennaways, but she and Aurelia are as close as sisters. When Aurelia dies at the age of twenty-three, she leaves Amy ten pounds, and the Vennaways immediately banish Amy from their home.
But Aurelia left her much more. Amy soon receives a packet that contains a rich inheritance and a letter from Aurelia revealing she had kept secrets from Amy, secrets that she wants Amy to know. From the grave she sends Amy on a treasure hunt from one end of England to the other: a treasure hunt that only Amy can follow. Ultimately, a life-changing discovery awaits...if only Amy can unlock the secret. In the end, Amy escapes the Vennaways, finds true love, and learns her dearest friend’s secret, a secret that she will protect for the rest of her life.
An abandoned baby, a treasure hunt, a secret. As Amy sets forth on her quest, readers will be swept away by this engrossing gem of a novel—the wonderful debut by newcomer Tracy Rees.
The prolific Philippa Gregory brings us a tale of lost family and new alliances in THE WHITE PRINCESS. The tale follows Elizabeth of York, who marries King Henry VII in order to end the War of the Roses and unite England. And despite their differences and their warring houses, Elizabeth and her new husband soon grow found of one another. However, their alliance is thrown into question when a young man claiming to be Elizabeth’s lost brother, and challenger for the throne, emerges, with a sizable faction looking to support his ascension to power. The new queen must figure out her loyalties and what is best for the kingdom before it’s too late.
Adapted for the STARZ original series, The White Princess.
Love to the Death.
When Henry Tudor picks up the crown of England from the mud of Bosworth field, he knows he must marry the princess of the enemy house—Elizabeth of York—to unify a country divided by war for more than three decades. But his bride is still in love with his dead enemy, and her mother and half of England remain loyal to her brother, the missing York heir.
Henry’s greatest fear is that somewhere a prince is waiting to reclaim the throne. When a young man who would be king invades England, Elizabeth has to choose between the new husband she is coming to love and the boy who claims to be her lost brother: the rose of York come home at last.
“A bloody irresistible read.” —People
“Bring on the blood, sex, and tears!...You name it, it’s all here.” —USA TODAY
Leidah Pietersdatter is not like other girls. No, seriously, she’s born blue, and with webbed hands and feet. This deeply worries her mother, Maeva, who knows that the villagers in their hometown of Ørken will not take kindly to her strange, magical daughter. And while her husband, Pieter, loves them both fiercely, Maeva knows there’s only one way to keep them all safe: a secret that can never be shared. BECOMING LEIDAH follows mother and daughter as they navigate identity, love, and power in nineteenth century Norway, working to accept themselves and each other for who they really are.
An utterly gripping love story set in nineteenth-century Norway, about a woman rescued from the sea, the fisherman who marries her, their tiny and unusually gifted daughter, and the shapeshifter who follows their every move, perfect for fans of Alice Hoffman, Yangsze Choo, Eowyn Ivey, and Neil Gaiman.
The sky opens up... I hear them laugh.
They don’t feel the sadness in the air.
They don’t feel the danger coming, riding in on the wind.
In the hinterlands of old Norway, Leidah Pietersdatter is born blue-skinned, with webbed hands and feet. Upon every turn of season, her mother, Maeva, worries as her daughter’s peculiarities blossom—inside the root of the tiny child, a strange power is taking hold.
Maeva tries to hide the girl from the suspicious townsfolk of the austere village of Ørken, just as she conceals her own magical ancestry from her daughter. And Maeva’s adoring husband, Pieter, wants nothing more than for his new family to be accepted by all. But unlike Pieter, who is blinded by love, Maeva is aware that the villagers, who profess a rigid faith to the new God and claim to have abandoned the old ways, are watching for any sign of transgression—and are eager to pounce and punish.
Following both mother and daughter from the shadows and through time, an inquisitive shapeshifter waits for the Fates to spin their web, and for Maeva to finally reclaim who she once was. And as Maeva’s elusive past begins to beckon, she realizes that she must help her daughter navigate and control her own singular birthright if the child is to survive the human world.
But the protective love Pieter has for his family is threatening the secure life they have slowly built and increasingly becoming a tragic obstacle. Witnessing this, Maeva comes to a drastic conclusion: she must make Leidah promise to keep a secret from Pieter—a perilous one that may eventually free them all.
When Li Lan dreamed of her future, it didn’t include her mother dying, her father blowing the family fortune on opium, or being married to a dead man. But her father strikes a deal for her to become a ghost bride to Tian Ching, son of the wealthiest family in the area who recently passed away. However, traveling to his home, she begins to dream of her ghostly husband, who tells her that his handsome and charming cousin was the one to kill him. Trapped in a dangerous situation, Li Lan uses a medium to travel to the land of the dead for answers. Suspenseful, supernatural, and original, THE GHOST BRIDE is a roller coaster of secrets, shifting alliances, and unexpected friends, set in 1893 Malaysia.
If you’re looking to go way, way back in time, look no further than THE DOVEKEEPERS. Nearly two thousand years back, a group of nine hundred Jews staved off Roman armies that attempted to besiege Masada. The novel follows four women in the days leading up to and during the attack: Yael, the daughter of an assassin; Revka, a village baker’s wife who is mute after watching her daughter be murdered; Aziza, an expert marksman raised as a boy; and Shirah, a healer and magical practitioner. Together, they fight to survive, help others, and maintain their secrets as the walls begin closing in on their lives.
Nearly two thousand years ago, nine hundred Jews held out for months against Roman armies on Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert. The source for the recent CBS miniseries, The Dovekeepers is a beautifully written and captivating tale of four women whose lives intersect in the desperate days of the siege.
Clarence of Rabaltué thought she knew all about her father and uncle’s time in the colony of Fernando Po, now known as Bioko in Equatorial Guinea. But upon discovering letters from the 1950s, she uncovers a love story between her uncle Kilian and a local woman, Bisila, amidst the rising tensions on the island. Clarence must uncover what secrets have been held, and their many consequences, as well as discover who it is that continues to leave flowers on her grandfather’s grave. THE PALM TREES IN THE SNOW is as much about love as it is hate, and what is wrought from both.
Author Vida Winter is an eccentric recluse who, despite her famed short story collection, has spent the rest of her writing time crafting elaborate alternate lives for herself. As she feels death drawing nearer, she contacts biographer Margaret Lea to finally get her story done. But truth is stranger than fiction, and Margaret is bewitched by the Gothic tale Vida weaves, featuring a ghost, a massive fire, governesses, and gardens. But is it all true, or is what really happened still buried? THE THIRTEENTH TALE watches both women interrogate their past and come to terms with terrible secrets they never hoped to see again, making it a dark but beguiling read.
Read a Book About Books
In this novel, biographer Margaret Lea is approached by a well-loved but gravely ill author with a surprising request: she wants Margaret to capture her life story before it’s too late. Although Margaret has never read the author’s work, she’s intrigued, and soon gets immersed in her strange and troubling history. Now both women will have to confront their pasts—and grapple with the ghosts that still haunt them.
Who doesn’t fondly remember the world of Narnia, first cast into endless winter in THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE? Well, ONCE UPON A WARDROBE takes readers back to that magic land, but not how they expect. Megs Devonshire is an aspiring physicist studying at Oxford when her little brother, George, becomes enthralled by C. S. Lewis’ most famous book. George begs Megs to find out where Narnia came from so she manages to sit down to tea with both Lewis and his brother, who rather than giving her answers, only give her more stories. But those stories, as strange as they might seem, open up a whole new world for Megs and George, full of magic and hope. If you need a novel to give you the warm and fuzzies on a cold, winter’s night, this will do so faster than you can ask about that peculiar lamppost in the forest.
Photo credit: iStock / Cleardesign1