It is cold, and winter is here. You’re mostly stuck indoors because it’s warmer. So, what do you do? Why read, of course! It’s an excellent time to catch up on all those books you received for Christmas. It’s the most wonderful time of the year to read some scary ghost stories.
Wait a moment; you are saying Halloween is long past, and Christmas was last month. It’s chilling, dreary weather, maybe even it snowed where you lived last night, so you want to read something light and fun. What better time for spooky tales, especially those even happening during the winter season in the story itself?
Humans have always sought out horror stories: reading, writing, and watching horror is an entirely rational response to the world. By the end of a book or movie, the crisis will be over in some way, and the danger will have passed: this applies, of course, to fiction, that when the stakes are at their highest, the catharsis is all the more wonderful. Winter horror reminds you that spring will arrive.
It is not about escaping reality but raising the stakes on the fear by adding a dash of a monster, ghosts, or even a serial killer, and then seeing what happens to the characters in wintry conditions that will make things even worse. Most books or stories end happily for the heroes unless there is a sequel in the works. And don’t worry—you are safe and warm, in your home. Right? Wait a moment! Do you hear that?
Some books you might like to check out for that wintertime reading…
The Shining by Stephen King: This is a great book to read. Stephan King is a master of his characters and storytelling. Jack, Wendy, and their son, Danny Torrance, move to the remote Overlook Hotel for the winter as caretakers. For the next few months, Jack, a recovering alcoholic, spirals into murderous insanity. Then there are the ghosts, too. Although the hotel is nominally the malevolent force in this story, for me, it comes down to Jack Torrance as, like a Shakespearean tragic hero, he unravels from within himself. To quote the book: “Monsters are real. Ghosts are too. They live inside of us, and sometimes, they win.”
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James: It might not be winter as the season in this masterful classic ghost story novella from 1898, and yet the story can still chill a reader from 2021. Characters like a man called Douglas relates the story of an unnamed governess who takes a job at Bly to look after two seemingly angelic children on behalf of their uncle, whose only stipulation is that she must never contact him. Miles, the little boy, arrives home from boarding school having been expelled for unknown reasons. Flora, the girl, has an ‘extraordinary charm’, but the governess becomes entirely besotted with Miles. When the governess sees the ghosts of both Quint, a former worker, and Miss Jessell, the former governess, things begin to spiral out of control. Are the spirits truly there? Is the governess to be trusted? Read the book and find out.
The Terror by Dan Simmons: It is a fictionalized account of Captain Sir John Franklin’s lost expedition of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror to the Arctic, in 1845–1848, to locate the Northwest Passage. The ship enters a second summer in the Arctic Circle without a thaw, and they become stranded in a nightmarish landscape of encroaching ice and darkness. Endlessly cold, with diminishing rations, 126 men fight to survive with poisonous food, a dwindling supply of coal, and ships buckling in the grip of crushing ice. But their real enemy is far more terrifying. There is something out there in the frigid darkness: an unseen predator stalking their ship, a monstrous terror always clawing to get in.
Snowblind by Christopher Golden: Twelve years ago, the small town of Coventry, Massachusetts, was in the grasp of a fierce winter, then came the Great Storm. It hit hard. Not everyone saw the spring. Today the families, friends, and lovers of the victims are still haunted by the ghosts of those they lost so suddenly. If only they could see them one more time, hold them close, tell them they love them. When a new storm strikes, it doesn’t just bring snow and ice; it brings the people of Coventry exactly what they’ve wished for, plus the realization that their nightmare is only beginning.
Who Goes There by John W. Campbell: This science fiction horror novella by American writer John W. Campbell Jr., written under the pen name Don A. Stuart, was first published in the August 1938 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. It formed the basis for The Thing movies. You can find this at Amazon, even as a free PDF, and I know a current publisher who got the original version, which had more to the story and published it in its entirety.
That is Frozen Hell: The Book That Inspired The Thing: Recently discovered among Campbell’s papers, this version adds another 45 pages to the story. It also includes a Preface by Alec Nevala-Lee and an Introduction by Robert Silverberg.
A group of scientific researchers, isolated in Antarctica by the nearly-ended winter, discover an alien spaceship buried in the ice, where it crashed twenty million years before. Thawing revives the alien pilot of the ship. This being can assume the shape, memories, and personality of any living thing it devours while maintaining its original body mass for further reproduction. And once it does, who is really the alien and who is the real person, as they must stop it from getting out of Antarctica.
Pamela K. Kinney
Journey to worlds of fantasy, beyond the stars, and into the vortex of terror with the written word of Pamela K. Kinney.
Read Pamela Kinney!
And if you are in the mood for more reading, check out my latest nonfiction regional ghost book, Haunted Surry to Suffolk: Spooky Locations Along Routes 10 and 460 . Available in both Kindle and Paperback, it also has ghostly and regular images.
Take a journey along Virginia’s scenic Routes 10 and 460 eastbound to enjoy the lovely countryside and metropolises that spread around these two roads. Most of all, discover that some historical houses, plantations, battlefields, parks, and even the modern cities, have more than touristy knickknacks, ham, and peanuts to offer. Many have ghosts! Bacon’s Castle has spirits haunting it since the 1600s. Stay in a cabin overnight at Chippokes Plantation State Park and you might find you have a spectral bedfellow. The city of Smithfield has more to offer than the world’s oldest ham; it also has some very old phantoms still stalking its buildings. Take a ghost tour of Suffolk and see why the biggest little city is also one of the spookiest. Discover the myths and legends of the Great Dismal Swamp and see what phantoms are still haunting the wildlife refuge. And if that’s not enough, Bigfoot and UFOs are part of the paranormal scenery. These and other areas of southeastern Virginia are teeming with ghosts, Sasquatch, UFOs, and monsters. See what awaits you along 460 south and 10. No matter which road you take, the phantoms can’t wait to SCARE you a good time.
And for fiction for a winter night, HWA Poetry Showcase Volume VII. It is an anthology, not with short stories, but dark poetry that tells terrifying stories. Includes my Lovecraftian horror poem, “Dementia.” It is available in both Kindle and paperback.
The Horror Writers Associations presents their seventh annual Poetry Showcase, featuring the best in never-before-published dark verse. Edited by Stephanie M. Wytovich, this year’s featured poets are K. P. Kulski, Sarah Read, and Sara Tantlinger, plus dozens of poems from the talented members of the Horror Writers Association.
About Pamela K. Kinney
Author Pamela K. Kinney gave up long ago trying not to listen to the voices in her head and has written award-winning, bestselling horror, fantasy, science fiction, poetry, along with nonfiction ghost books ever since. Three of her nonfiction ghost books garnered Library of Virginia nominations. Her third ghost book, Virginia’s Haunted Historic Triangle: Williamsburg, Yorktown, Jamestown, and Other Haunted Locations, had reached a second printing and is now a 2nd edition with extra new stories and ten new ghostly images added, plus a new ghost book, Haunted Surry to Suffolk: Spooky Takes Along Routes 10 and 460 released in 2020 from Anubis Press. Her horror short story, “Bottled Spirits,” was runner-up for the 2013 WSFA Small Press Award and is considered one of the seven best genre short fiction for that year. Her latest novel was an urban fantasy, How the Vortex Changed My Life. In 2019, her science fiction novella, Maverick Heart, released from Dreampunk Press, along with a horror story, “By Midnight,” in the Christmas horror and fantasy anthology, Christmas Lites IX, and a nonfiction story, “The Haunted Cavalier Hotel,” in the paranormal nonfiction anthology, Handbook for the Dead. Five micro horror stories of hers in the anthology, Nano Nightmares, a horror short story, “Hunting the Goatman,” was included in the anthology, Retro Horror, plus a horror short story, “A Trick, No Treat,” plus three horror poems of hers, were included in Siren Call Publications’ Halloween issue, released October 2020. She has a poem, “Dementia,” accepted for Horror Writers Association’s horror poetry anthology, HWA Poetry Showcase, Vol. VII. Of course, she is working on various horror and fantasy short stories and has finished a supernatural horror novel and is also working on a nonfiction book, Werewolves, Dogmen, and Other Shapeshifters Stalking America, for Anubis Press.
Pamela and her husband live with one crazy black cat (who thinks she should take precedence over her mistress’s writing most days). Along with writing, Pamela has acted on stage and film and investigates the paranormal for episodes of Paranormal World Seekers for AVA Productions. She is a member of both Horror Writers Association and Virginia Writers Club. You can learn more about Pamela K. Kinney at http://www.PamelaKKinney.com.