It’s the perfect season to cozy up with a blanket and a few winter thrillers. From mysteries with dark characters to chilling atmospheric horror novels, the desolate backdrop of snow and ice makes everything a little creepier. Since you’re already snuggled up on the couch, it’s also the ideal time to pair your reading with some winter thriller movies and shows. We’ve rounded up the top choices for cold weather books, plus some perfect counterparts available to stream. So go ahead—light a fire, make some tea, and settle in. There are plenty of mystery & thriller book options to get you through the rest of this cold interlude. Winter thrillers and similar movies/shows you can watch if you’ve read and loved the book.
In 1845, two ships, the Erebus and the Terror, set off on a doomed expedition to the Northwest Passage. Helmed by Captain Franklin, the crew aboard the Terror are entering their second summer stranded in the frozen temperatures of the Arctic Circle. Grappling with low rations, poisoned food, a diminishing coal supply, and the death of their leader, the men on board try to survive the crushing ice and encroaching darkness. But there is another, even more terrifying enemy waiting in the black shadows. One that they can feel, but not see.
Between Simmons’ vivid descriptions of the ice and utter emptiness, along with the horrific details of a crew trying to survive a nameless monster, The Terror will chill readers to the bone, and have everyone reaching for an extra blanket.
Television Counterpart: The Terror, AMC
Set aside a healthy block of time and a space heater when preparing to binge the iciness of AMC’s The Terror series. Starring Jared Harris, Tobias Menzies, and Paul Ready, this 2018 show spans 10 episodes and brings the absolute bleakness of the novel to life. Gripping horror is the best way to describe the unseen monster, as well as the atrocities of being trapped on a ship in the Arctic.
ICE AND STONE is book 34 in the Sharon McCone series, this time taking the private investigator undercover in Northern California. McCone travels to the frigid wilderness to investigate the deaths of two Indigenous women, the latest in a series of crimes. Determined not to let this murder be swept under the rug like so many others, an organization called Crimes against Indigenous Sisters hires the PI to find out the truth. But a community rich in lies and corruption isn’t interested in having their secrets exposed by an outsider. You’ll be on the edge of your seat following McCone into an isolated cabin deep in the icy woods, determined to solve the mystery at any cost.
Movie Counterpart: Wind River
The vast, snowy landscape of Wyoming sets the scene for this 2017 film directed by Taylor Sheridan. When a wildlife officer (Jeremy Renner) discovers the body of an Indigenous woman on the Wind River Indian Reservation, he must work with an FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) to solve the crime.
After the collapse of her disastrous marriage, Maeve Martin is focused on moving forward, both personally and professionally. A retreat at the High Water Center for the Arts sounds like the perfect escape Maeve needs to get back on her feet and begin pursuing her dream of starting a dance company. But the idyllic mountain setting is quickly shattered when an avalanche strikes, and the guests are stranded without power, heat, or any way to escape. As a storm rages outside, the tension inside the lodge begins to escalate. And once people start dying, Maeve realizes help may not be coming and no one can be trusted.
Movie Counterpart: The Shining
The classic Stephen King novel was brought to life by director Stanley Kubrick in 1980. Jack Nicholson plays Jack Torrance, an aspiring writer with a complicated past who goes to work as the off-season caretaker at the Overlook Hotel. Accompanied by his wife and son, the Torrance family is trapped in the hotel after a fierce winter storm. The snow-covered Colorado Rockies set an icy backdrop as the main character slowly descends into darkness.
Cleary, North Carolina is a small, sleepy town without much crime. So the fact that four women have disappeared in two years has everyone on edge. Without any bodies, clues, or suspects, the only hint of a connection is the blue ribbons left at the sites of where each woman was last seen.
Lilly Martin is returning to Cleary to close out her former cabin and her former marriage. Her ex happens to be the chief of police, and he’s not keen on watching her go. As Lilly attempts to finally leave for good, her car slips on the ice and strikes a man as he comes out of the woods. The two strangers are forced to wait out the storm in Lilly’s cabin, but as the weather worsens, she realizes that the mysterious man next to her may be more dangerous than the blizzard outside.
Movie Counterpart: Winter’s Bone
Tasked with caring for her younger siblings and mentally ill mother, teenager Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) is trying to manage a destitute family. After their drug-dealer father gets out on bail by putting their house up as bond, he then disappears. Ree goes on a perilous journey to track him down, break a code of silence, and save the only home they know.
As the darkness of winter descends over a small village in Poland, aging Janina is content to be alone, focusing on astrology and taking care of the summer homes of wealthy families. Preferring the company of animals over people, she has secured a reputation for being a cranky recluse. Then bodies begin piling up. Janina is certain she knows the culprit, and attempts to insert herself into the investigation, but no one will listen. Will it be too late once they finally realize she may be holding a key to solving the mystery?
Movie Counterpart: Smilla’s Sense of Snow
After a day of work studying ice crystals in a Copenhagen lab, Smilla returns home to find her six year old neighbor dead in the snow. While authorities claim he fell off the roof, Smilla knows the boy was afraid of heights and their story isn’t adding up. She uses her intuition to track down a secret corporation that has been covering up “accidents” for many years.