Winter is… here, actually. For better or worse (probably worse). My Michigan-bred, winter-loving roommate is all smiles at the prospect of snow while I sink further back into my anti-winter blanket cocoon of denial. I’d much prefer to read about winter than actually, you know, experience it. Though I have to admit, literary characters have it way worse—most often their winters are horrible snowmageddons that would make short work of weaker individuals (i.e. me) or really anyone who isn’t Elsa or Jon Snow.
Everyone knows about the nasty snowpocalypse that is George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire—the books, people, the books!—but what about other literary polar vortexes? As bad as winter may be this year, I suppose this group of unfortunate characters endured a much worse one.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis: Everyone should know this story: the White Witch, the eternal winter, the world in the back of the wardrobe. Narnia pre-dates Westeros, and while it may not be the original “worst winter,” it’s certainly one of the first I think of, complete with epic clashes between good and evil and talking animals—because that’s what’s important here.
Three months of winter is bad enough. I wouldn’t survive a century of it, not to mention the fact that the evil witch turns Narnians into statues. Actually, being a statue would probably be better than enduring one hundred years of winter. I wonder if statues get cold…
The Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy – Maggie Stiefvater: Minnesota is essentially the ninth circle of the Inferno in winter—or so I hear. It’s really, really cold. Which is rather unfortunate for a bunch of werewolves who shift with the weather.
Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls are human during the summer when it’s warm, but the moment the temperature starts to drop in Minnesota—boom. Werewolf.
Would you like an abrupt, inconvenient, and uncomfortable species change with that twenty feet of snow? No? Too bad. Enjoy Minnesota’s two seasons, wolves: nine months of winter and three months of pre-winter.
Between Shades of Gray – Ruta Sepetys: History tends to brush over the details of the Gulags in Soviet Russia, but Sepetys thrusts her reader—and her poor characters—right into the action, starting with the arrest of Lina Vilkas and her family in Lithuania to their experiences in the remote Siberian Gulag.
To all you snow-lovers out there, I’d like to see how much you love it when you’re trapped inside your hut and unable to escape, or have to trudge through it in inadequate clothing. Nope. Nope nope nope nopenopenope—
Frozen – Melissa de la Cruz & Michael Johnston: The good thing about winter is that it only happens once a year. Except if you live in this narrative crafted by husband and wife duo Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston, where winter is all day, every day.
The planet is destroyed and freezing. There’s a bunch of factors to blame—the Great Wars, the Black Flood, the Big Freeze—but all you need to know is that this place is pretty horrible. Drinkable water? Nope. Adequate food? Of course not. Warmth? Pfft. Oh, and don’t forget those iceberg-esque trash heaps floating around in the toxic oceans.
But don’t fret, my friends! Las Vegas is still there. Sort of.
Black Ice – Becca Fitzpatrick: Quick poll! Where would you go for spring break: Hawaii or the cold, forsaken, snow-covered Rocky Mountains? The obvious answer isn’t so obvious for Britt Pfeiffer. Spoiler alert: she picks the mountains.
Now, Britt has been training to backpack the Teton Range for a while. She’s totally prepared. Except for that blizzard. Because it never blizzards in the Rockies or anything. Poor planning aside, I imagine things could be much worse for Britt and Korbie—the poor friend she drags along with her—than being stranded in a car on a mountain in the middle of a horrible snowstorm. Like being kidnapped by two fugitives on a mountain in the middle of a snowstorm! Fugitives that may or may not be responsible for the kidnapping and deaths of other young women in the area. Hawaii might have been a better call.