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Chilling Winter Stories

Chilling stories are perfect to curl up with against a cold, dark winter evening! Here is a recommendation just in time for the longest night of the year...

Three writers with a Welsh connection combine their talents in this collection of short novels, Three Strikes (Firefly). This trio of tales star plenty of mystery, the supernatural and emotion, certain to capture the imagination of YA readers. All three authors - Lucy Christopher, Kat Ellis and Rhian Ivory - have already proved their talent in earlier novels, and for those who don’t know their work this collection gives an excellent opportunity as a taster.

Lucy Christopher’s story, The Darkness, is set on a tropical African island where ‘The Tribe’ experience offers teenagers (according to the advertising flyer) ‘an immersive psychological programme to overcome their own personal darkness’. Kash is very reluctant to participate; but is still struggling with the death of her mother, a death for which she feels responsible, and has led her to self-harming. When the leaders of 'The Tribe' mysteriously disappear from the camp, Kash and the other teenagers go into the jungle searching for them , only to find that the truth of 'The Tribe' is very different from its advertisement.... Kash’s backstory is told in between the episodes describing the jungle search, and Christopher very skillfully interweaves both the present and the past to create a powerful portrait of a girl in crisis, working through her fears.

Kat Ellis moves us into the supernatural with The Twins of Blackfin, providing a new tale related to her earlier novel, Blackfin Sky. Blackfin is a town whose past is coming back to haunt it - and it’s a past that nobody would wish for! Bo’s best friend Sky has mysteriously drowned after falling from the town’s pier on the night of her sixteenth birthday. Bo is devastated; she simply cannot come to terms with Sky's death, and continues to imagine that she can discuss her worries with her dead friend. But when the children of Blackfin start to leave their beds and wander at the dead of night, only to return with no memory of doing so, Bo seeks the reason - and makes ta chilling discovery. This is an exciting, spooky story which will have readers glancing fearfully into the shadows - but it also addresses the importance of our relationships with family and friends, however annoying they may seem at times!

Rhian Ivory offers us Matchstick Girl, a contemporary twist on the famous Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, The Little Match Girl. The heroine in Ivory’s story, set in Norway, is musician and woodcarver Nia. Devastated by her mother’s death nearly a year ago, her woodcutter father has become more and more over-protective of his daughter, especially as the anniversary approaches. Nia is looking forward to taking a school trip to a festival with the local choir, where she will be the star singer. But at the last moment, her father refuses to let her go. Determined to honour her mother (who was also a star singer), Nia decides to busk to earn enough money for the train fare to the festival, with disastrous results. In fact, the title for the collection relates to this particular story, and readers are left with a tantalizing question posed on the final page, one which may never be resolved. This is a chilling finale to the volume, and one which offers yet another excellent tale to entertain and send shivers down the back!

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