Picture this: you’re settled in your comfiest chair, snow’s gently falling outside, and you’ve got a book in your hand that feels like a warm hug . . . at first. Here are six handpicked reads that start off with that snuggly, winter wonderland vibe but then—plot twist—flip the script and take you on a wild ride. From quaint snowy towns with closets full of skeletons to peaceful winter cabins with a side of danger, these stories mix cozy and creepy in the best way. Get ready for some serious page-turning that’ll keep you guessing.
Even as her Vermont home becomes a winter wonderland, Alison’s holiday spirit is at an all-time low. But her disdain for Christmas cheer is challenged all the more when an unexpected call comes: her estranged, terminally ill mother, Mavis, wants to reconcile. With heavy reluctance, Alison welcomes her into her home, with the hopes of mending old wounds. Yet as Mavis's arrival coincides with a series of eerie disturbances, Alison's dream of a peaceful Christmas quickly spirals into a haunting question of her mother's true identity. MY DARLING GIRL is a thrilling hearthside horror where festive lights dim, revealing a chilling puzzle that Alison must solve to keep her family, which includes her two daughters, safe.
The New York Times bestselling author of the “otherworldly treat” (People) The Drowning Kind and The Children on the Hill returns with a spine-tingling psychological thriller about a woman who, after taking in her dying, alcoholic mother, begins to suspect demonic possession is haunting her family.
Alison has never been a fan of Christmas. But with it right around the corner and her husband busily decorating their cozy Vermont home, she has no choice but to face it. Then she gets the call.
Mavis, Alison’s estranged mother, has been diagnosed with cancer and has only weeks to live. She wants to spend her remaining days with her daughter, son-in-law, and two granddaughters. But Alison grew up with her mother’s alcoholism and violent abuse and is reluctant to unearth these traumatic memories. Still, she eventually agrees to take in Mavis, hoping that she and her mother could finally heal and have the relationship she’s always dreamed of.
But when mysterious and otherworldly things start happening upon Mavis’s arrival, Alison begins to suspect her mother is not quite who she seems. And as the holiday festivities turn into a nightmare, she must confront just how far she is willing to go to protect her family.
THE CHRISTMAS APPEAL is a darkly comedic tale where holiday spirit meets mystery in the midst of a chaotic theater production. The Fairway Players' festive rendition of Jack and the Beanstalk is plagued not just by backstage sabotage and bitter rivalries but by an actual murder, turning amateur actors into impromptu detectives—all of which unfolds through a clever compilation of texts, emails, and letters, each one a piece of the puzzle.
The stakes are high as the clock ticks down to find the killer before the final curtain call. It’s a brilliant whodunit that flirts with the line between pantomime and peril, keeping you guessing from start to finish. Perfect for those who fancy their festive tales with a side of intrigue and a dash of the diabolical.
This immersive holiday caper from the “modern Agatha Christie” (The Sunday Times, London) follows the hilarious Fairway Players theater group as they put on a Christmas play—and solve a murder that threatens their production.
The Christmas season has arrived in Lower Lockwood, and the Fairway Players are busy rehearsing their festive holiday production of Jack and the Beanstalk to raise money for a new church roof. But despite the season, goodwill is distinctly lacking among the amateur theater enthusiasts with petty rivalries, a possibly asbestos-filled beanstalk, and some perennially absent players behind the scenes.
Of course, there’s also the matter of the dead body onstage. Who could possibly have had the victim on their naughty list? Join lawyers Femi and Charlotte as they investigate Christmas letters, examine emails, and pore over police transcripts to identify both the victim and killer before the curtain closes on their holiday production—for good.
In GIRL IN SNOW, Danya Kukafka deftly weaves a tale that transcends the bounds of a typical murder mystery as it explores the impact of a high schooler's murder on the lives of three intimately connected individuals in a small Colorado town. The gripping, magnetic prose slowly pulls you into the inner worlds of Cameron, Jade, and Russ as they journey through grief, guilt, and self-discovery in a haunting winter landscape. The novel's power lies not so much in the crime itself, but in its heartrending portrayal of isolation and the longing for connection. This book isn’t for those looking for a quick and thrilling whodunnit, but if you’re a fan of slow burn, emotional suspense, you can’t go wrong.
“A perfectly paced and tautly plotted thriller…and an incredibly accomplished debut” (Paula Hawkins, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Girl on the Train and Into the Water), about a beloved high schooler found murdered in her sleepy Colorado suburb and the secret lives of three people connected to her.
How can you love someone who’s done something horribly, horribly wrong? When a beloved high schooler named Lucinda Hayes is found murdered, no one in her community is untouched—not the boy who loved her too much; not the girl who wanted her perfect life; not the officer assigned to investigate her murder. In the aftermath of the tragedy, these three indelible characters—Cameron, Jade, and Russ—must each confront their darkest secrets in an effort to find solace, the truth, or both.
In crystalline prose, Danya Kukafka offers a brilliant exploration of identity and of the razor-sharp line between love and obsession, between watching and seeing, between truth and memory. “A sensational debut—great characters, mysteries within mysteries, and page-turning pace. Highly recommended” (Lee Child, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Jack Reacher novels). Hailed as “Gillian Flynn of 2017” (Yahoo! Style), compulsively readable and powerfully moving, Girl in Snow is “engagingly told… its endearing characters’ struggles linger in memory after this affecting work is done” (The Wall Street Journal).
Stephen Graham Jones does it again in DON’T FEAR THE REAPER, the sequel to MY HEART IS A CHAINSAW, which is a love letter to—and a master class in—the slasher genre. In this story, we return to Proofrock, Idaho, where Jade Daniels, fresh out of prison, steps back into a blood-soaked fray just in time for infamous serial killer Dark Mill South's escape. What unfurls is a tale bursting with film references that will delight horror aficionados, yet enthrall newcomers to the genre. Jade is as compelling as ever as Jones ingeniously takes on the expected trajectory of slasher sequels, delivering a narrative that's bloodier, funnier, and more emotionally resonant than its predecessor.
For anyone looking for a tale that's as much a cerebral meta-commentary as it is a visceral thrill ride, DON’T FEAR THE REAPER delivers on all fronts. It's a rare sequel that outshines the original, and a must-read for those who like their stories sharp, dark, and unapologetically bold.
December 12th, 2019, Jade returns to the rural lake town of Proofrock the same day as convicted Indigenous serial killer Dark Mill South escapes into town to complete his revenge killings, in this “superb” (Publishers Weekly) sequel to My Heart Is a Chainsaw from New York Times bestselling author Stephen Graham Jones.
Four years after her tumultuous senior year, Jade Daniels is released from prison right before Christmas when her conviction is overturned. But life beyond bars takes a dangerous turn as soon as she returns to Proofrock. Convicted Serial Killer, Dark Mill South, seeking revenge for thirty-eight Dakota men hanged in 1862, escapes from his prison transfer due to a blizzard, just outside of Proofrock, Idaho.
Dark Mill South’s Reunion Tour began on December 12th, 2019, a Thursday.
Thirty-six hours and twenty bodies later, on Friday the 13th, it would be over.
Don’t Fear the Reaper is the “adrenaline-filled” (Library Journal, starred review) sequel to My Heart Is a Chainsaw from New York Times bestselling author Stephen Graham Jones.
Let’s be real—Mary Higgins Clark has countless books that tick all the cozy winter suspense boxes, and DASHING THROUGH THE SNOW is no exception. Written by Mary Higgins Clark along with her daughter Carol, this book tells the story of a life-changing lottery windfall won by a group of employees from a local market in a small New Hampshire town. But, the situation turns curious when Duncan, who abstained last minute from the lottery, disappears. Questions swirl: Did Duncan act alone to secure the second winning ticket, or is the town of Branscombe's serenity a facade for deeper mysteries?
Enter Alvirah Meehan and Regan Reilly—our amateur sleuth and PI duo—who peel back layers of small-town charm to expose the simmering tensions beneath. This book marries suspense with the deft intertwining of a heart-pounding whodunit and the promise of a warm and fuzzy spirit of the season conclusion. I speak from experience when I say that those who enjoy festive tales with a dash of mystery will fly through this book in one sitting!
From the beloved mother-daughter duo of Mary Higgins Clark, America’s Queen of Suspense, and Carol Higgins Clark, author of the hugely popular Regan Reilly series, comes Dashing Through the Snow, a holiday treat loaded with as many surprises as Santa’s sleigh.
In picturesque Branscombe, New Hampshire, on the night before the village’s first (and many hope annual) Festival of Joy, a group of employees at the local market learn they have won $180 million in the lottery. But the one worker, Duncan, who decided at the last moment not to play, is nowhere to be found. And while a second winning ticket was purchased in the next town, that winner hasn’t come forward. Could Duncan have secretly bought it?
Alvirah Meehan, amateur sleuth, and private investigator Regan Reilly have arrived in town for the festival. And as they dig beneath the surface, they find that life in little Branscombe is not as tranquil as it appears. But while Alvirah and Regan have to put aside their visions of an old-fashioned weekend in the country, this fast-paced holiday caper is sure to keep you dashing through the pages.
Twelve years after their last meeting, the exclusive Masquerade Murder Society finds themselves in the midst of a drama far more sinister than their college role-plays. Reunited in the Scottish Highlands for a Christmas masquerade, each member of this elite circle is hiding skeletons that could topple their charmed lives. Among them is Charley, a peripheral figure in their university days, now drawn back into the fold with the lure of professional advancement.
As they slip into their "Twelve Days of Christmas" personas, they make a gruesome discovery: “Lady Partridge” is dead, and this is no pretend play. The killer is one of their own and the group's survival hinges on deciphering which secrets are worth killing for—and what really transpired during their last, fateful gathering twelve years ago.
Andreina Cordani weaves a compelling narrative, laced with tension and dark parallels to the song that frames their reunion. With its clever plot, chilling setting, and relentless suspense, THE TWELVE DAYS OF MURDER is a must-read that entices and horrifies, making it the perfect companion for a winter's night.
Eight friends created the exclusive Masquerade Murder Society while in college. The murders they solved were fictional—until their final masquerade, when one of the group disappeared. Twelve years later, the remaining members are invited to a reunion in the Scottish Highlands . . .
Twelve years ago, eight friends ran an exclusive group at university: The Masquerade Murder Society. The mysteries they solved may have been grisly, and brilliantly staged, but they were always fictional—until their final Christmas Masquerade, when one of the group disappeared, never to be seen again.
Now our young, privileged cast of old university friends are summoned to the depths of Scotland for a Christmas-themed masquerade party. But all are hiding something deep below the surface that could make or break their careers. Charley is a struggling actress who has always been on the periphery of this high-flying group, but has decided to reunite with her frenemies on the promise of career help if she joins the old cast for one last weekend.
When they arrive each is assigned a new identity themed around the "Twelve Days of Christmas"—they become Lady Partridge or Mr. Gold; Lord Leapworth or Doctor Swan. The game begins, and it feels just like old times. Until the next morning, when Lady Partridge is found hanging—dead—from a pear tree.
It quickly becomes clear that in this game the murder will be all too real, and the story is bringing long-hidden secrets to the surface. Will Charley’s discerning eye and outsider status allow her to uncover the truth, or will she, too, fall prey to the murderer among them?
If the group hopes to win the game and survive until Christmas morning, they will need to face the truth about their history together and who they have become—and what really happened on that fateful night twelve years before.