Skip to main content

6+ Spooky, Scary Wintertime Stories That’ll Keep You up on Christmas Eve

All I want for Christmas, is for my favorite character not to die at the end.

Six plus Horrors and Thrillers perfect for Christmassy and winter season. (Image: Image Comics, Pegasus Crime, and Pushkin Vertigo.)

With a little over a week until Christmas, we are experiencing peak holiday festivities. While we love some festive lights and Mariah Carey, some of our favorite seasonal flicks feature a lot of spooky stuff like The Nightmare Before Christmas (debatable whether that is a Christmas movie, but I’m feelin’ charitable), Gremlins, and The Muppet Christmas Carol.

Instead of going with cozy romance reads and murder-free mysteries that many pair with the holidays (and that would make great movie adaptations), we put together this list of some eerie and killer titles to check out that are still totally seasonal. If anything, ghost stories, thanks to the popularity of Charles Dickens, are par for the course.

The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories, Vol. 1 edited by Tara Moore

The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories Vol.1. (Image: Valancourt Books.)

(Image: Valancourt Books.)

Speaking of A Christmas Carol, Dickens’ success led many other authors throughout the Victorian age to take a stab at writing Christmasy ghost stories. This book series highlights some then-famous writers and anonymous artists and their short stories, novellas, and poems. Initially printed in periodicals like newspapers and magazines for the holiday season, they sit compiled together and edited by Irish writer Tara Moore.

In volume one, you’ll find recognizable names like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes), as well as the women rarely recognized in literary canon like Ellen Wood (East Lynne) and Elizabeth Gaskell (The Life of Charlotte Brontë).

Krampus! by Brian Joines, illustrated by Dean Kotz

Krampus! by Brian Joines, illustrated by Dean Kotz. (Image: Image Comics.)

(Image: Image Comics.)

Recently free from imprisonment by those that thought his method of punishing children was “outdated” and “wicked,” Krampus is back! Unfortunately, his full powers didn’t come back with him, so Krampus must trek the globe and recover his stolen powers from the Secret Society of Santa Clauses. This five-issue comic run is more adventure and fantasy than horror but uses the ultimate yuletide terror as the main protagonist.

If you are a fan of the 2015 Krampus movie or are just into something a bit scarier, try Krampus: Shadow of Saint Nicholas by Michael Dougherty. The graphic novel features artists in the four sections, including Fiona Staples, Christian Dibari, Maan House, and Stuart Sayger, and is officially a prequel tie-in released through Legendary Comics.

White Is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

White Is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi (Image: Riverhead Books.)

(Image: Riverhead Books.)


The large bed-and-breakfast in Dover also serves as a home for four generations of Silver women (and the twin brother to young Miranda, Eliot.) When Miranda and Eliot’s mother Lily passes away while on a trip abroad, things begin to manifest in the home, including Miranda’s body. The town also turns against the family when Miranda brings an “outsider” into the Silver home.

While these are elements of the plot, the story is much more atmospheric and gothic, with heavy supernatural elements. Oyeyemi often reimagines folktales and fairy tales. However, in this book, she places visual motifs as references to classics.

The Honjin Murders by Seishi Yokomizo, translated by Louise Heal Kawai

The Honjin Murders by Seishi Yokomizo, translated by Louise Heal Kawai (Image: Pushkin Vertigo.)

(Image: Pushkin Vertigo.)

While not set in a culture that celebrates Christmas, Seishi Yokomizo—one of the genre’s most prominent names in Japan—penned this winter murder mystery (set in 1937). Buzzing with excitement for an important upcoming wedding, the village people of Okamura’s excitement begins to wane as rumors spread of a dangerous-looking masked man asking questions. The night of the wedding, death strikes, leaving no clues but a bloody samurai sword, and it’s up to detective Kosuke Kindaichi to solve this puzzling case.

The Haunting Season Eight Ghostly Tales for Long Winter Nights

The Haunting Season Eight Ghostly Tales for Long Winter Nights (Image: Pegasus Crime.)

(Image: Pegasus Crime.)

This anthology of short stories by well-establish modern writers features ghastly and shadowy stories set across the British Isles during the Christmas season. Authors include Bridget Collins (The Binding), Imogen Hermes Gowar (The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock), Kiran Millwood (The Mercies), Andrew Michael Hurley (The Loney), Jess Kidd (Things in Jars), Elizabeth Macneal (The Doll Factory), Natasha Pulley (The Watchmaker of Filigree Street), and Laura Purcell (The Silent Companions).

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill (Image: William Morrow & Company.)

(Image: William Morrow & Company.)

For fans of the Locke & Key comic series comes NOS4A2. The title itself nods toward and is a possible clue to invoke the infamous Germanic beast Nosferatu. The story follows a troubled woman, Victoria, with the ability to find lost things, and her longtime ago interaction with a man, Charles, whose vehicle runs on the joy and soul of others (particularly children). As the only child to ever get away from Charles, she is haunted by him, and him by her. Victoria must face him again when Charles’ latest passenger becomes her son.

If you are a fan of Stephen King’s work, Hill (King’s son) references many objects and places within King’s kind-of shared universe.

(Image: Image Comics, Pegasus Crime, and Pushkin Vertigo)

The Mary Sue may earn an affiliate commission on products and services purchased through links.

Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site

 —The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow The Mary Sue:

(she/her) Award-winning artist and blogger with professional experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. Starting as an Online Editor for her college paper in October 2017, Alyssa began writing for the first time within two months of working in the newsroom. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time drawing, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3. Still trying to beat Saxon Farm on RCT 3 (so I can 100% the game.)