14 wonderful wintry tales, chosen by The Very Merry Murder Club authors
Published on: 11 November 2021
The Very Merry Murder Club is a brilliant new anthology, featuring short stories about Christmassy crimes and festive foul play from a range of top authors!
There's nothing we like better than snuggling up with a story at this time of year, so we asked all of the authors to choose their favourite wintry tales or gripping mysteries for us...
E. L. Norry
I'd have to go with The Snow Queen! Yep, the old fairy tale by HC Anderson. The mirror, snow, ice particles and splinters always terrified me as a child. Even now I love the idea behind mirrors distorting all they reflect. The story always reminded me of the Snow Queen in Narnia too.
My favourite wintry books are The Snowman and Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs. I love The Snowman's story of friendship and, of course, the flying scenes are so magical. In contrast, Father Christmas is quite down to earth and funny.
My favourite mystery book at the moment is When Life Gives You Mangoes by Kereen Getten. It's not your typical mystery or detective story but the way that the mystery of what happened to the protagonist is unveiled is brilliant. It's full of suspense and there are little clues along the way that you just have to go back to find after the reveal.
Illustration: Bex Glendening
I love Wranglestone by Darren Charlton. It's like nothing I've read before with loads of twists and surprises. Plus zombies.
My favourite wintry or mystery book is The Unadoptables by Hana Tooke. It's set in nineteenth century Amsterdam and features five orphans journeying across the polder to a windmill on the other side of the city, to solve the mystery of the main character's cat puppet and find her parents. The setting is bone-chillingly cold and deliciously mysterious. One to enjoy on dark evenings with a hot drink.
My wintry book would be The Snowman by Raymond Briggs. It's the most memorable Christmas book that I've read or watched on TV since I was a kid. A snowman that comes to life - what could be better than that? For a mystery book, I would say One of Us Is Lying by Karen M McManus. It's my favourite whodunnit book.
Illustration: Pauline Baynes
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was the winter story I returned to again and again in my childhood. It was the first book that utterly transported me to another world. In Narnia, animals talk and magic has profound power, but you are still faced with the moral dilemmas, challenges and choices that will shape you as a person. That made it a very real place in my mind...
My favourite wintry book is The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - it's full of wintry mystery and magic, the chilly witch is terrifying, and since reading that book, I've never been able to eat Turkish Delight (which I think must taste quite nice) without suspicion. Never accept sweets from a sinister stranger in the snow!
My favourite winter mystery is C.S Lewis's classic magical portal fantasy, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It's the second book in the Narnia chronicles (you can read each as a standalone), where four siblings are evacuated during the Second World War, and sent to live with a professor in the countryside. There they discover that one of his wardrobes leads to another realm, called Narnia - a land frozen in an eternal winter and controlled by a mysterious witch. It has talking animals, epic battle scenes, witches and a wondrous winterscape. Definitely worth a read for any fantasy fan.
Illustration: Nina Tara
Mistletoe and Murder by Robin Stevens. I love the Murder Most Unladylike series as a whole, and it was a huge inspiration to me when writing my own books last year. I feel like there's one for every occasion and that means Christmas too, of course! Winter, murder and mystery told with twists, turns and a dash of humour? Sign me up!
One of my favourite mysteries of recent years is High Rise Mystery by Sharna Jackson. I loved that she brought the mystery genre right up to date with a contemporary, relatable setting, an intriguing plot and lots of twists and turns. Her characters are instantly likeable and I was rooting for them all the way. I'm so thrilled that Sharna is one of our contributing authors in the anthology - I know readers will love her story!
The book that I reread every winter is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I know it's one of the most famous and well-known winter stories, but for good reason! It always provides a bit of hope for humanity and I love stories about redemption. And the Muppets adaptation is the best!
Illustration: Robert Ingpen
I'm not great at picking favourites but one I've recently been reading is The Highland Falcon Thief by M. G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman, which has a lovely blend of everything that makes a good mystery book for me - a cast of interesting and quirky characters, a fast-paced plot with plenty of clues, red herrings and lots of adventure, and a brilliant setting which is brought to life even further by the illustrations. And samoyeds! I'm sold.
I'd choose Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist. Sweden. Winter. 1981. A lonely, bullied 12-year-old boy, Oskar, slowly becomes best friends with the mysterious girl next door, Eli. Eli, however, is not what she seems, and Håkan, the old man that looks after her, is not her grandfather. This terrifying tale is not simply about young love, but is also about being isolated and excluded and what might happen when you find empathy and support.