Friday, April 19, 2019

Reading Recommendations: Arctic Climates

When I was putting together my Top Ten Tuesday post this past week I included a category on 'cold settings' and I was once again reminded that that's a setting I love reading in books. It's pretty much an auto-buy sort of things for me ( I've also seen quite a few people who also enjoy some polar fantasy or winter-ready books, so I thought why not make a recommendations list of books with a polar/arctic settings that I think other lovers of this setting might enjoy? And here we are. This list has ended up being a bit of a mixture of fantasy and nonfiction (though predominantly fantasy, let's be real), so I hope there's a little something for everyone. 

Also, it's 93 degrees out where I live as I make this post. I'm just desperately holding onto any sense of cold weather as I can. I know it's still cold in some places, but this is my desperate attempt to stave off the summer weather.

Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage

Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing
I just read this book about a week ago, but it has already become one that I know I'll want to keep re-reading in the future. Endurance tells the story of Ernest Shackleton's daunting voyage to explore in the Antarctic regions, only for him and his crew to end up shipwrecked for seventeen months in the brutal Antarctic cold. This book is intense, gripping,inspirational, and I think everyone should read it.

"In August of 1914, the British ship Endurance set sail for the South Atlantic. In October 1915, still half a continent away from its intended base, the ship was trapped, then crushed in the ice. For five months, Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men, drifting on ice packs, were castaways in one of the most savage regions of the world. 

Lansing describes how the men survived a 1,000-mile voyage in an open boat across the stormiest ocean on the globe and an overland trek through forbidding glaciers and mountains. The book recounts a harrowing adventure, but ultimately it is the nobility of these men and their indefatigable will that shines through."
Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Wolf in the Whale

The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky
I'm sorry if you're already tired of me talking about this book, but I probably won't be shutting up about it for a very long time. This book takes place in an Arctic setting featuring the Inuit, as well as a few Vikings thrown in, and immediately transported me to the cold, icy setting. The Wolf in the Whale is beautiful and compelling and honestly, just read it. REVIEW

""There is a very old story, rarely told, of a wolf that runs into the ocean and becomes a whale." 

Born with the soul of a hunter and the spirit of the Wolf, Omat is destined to follow in her grandfather's footsteps-invoking the spirits of the land, sea, and sky to protect her people. 

But the gods have stopped listening and Omat's family is starving. Alone at the edge of the world, hope is all they have left. 

Desperate to save them, Omat journeys across the icy wastes, fighting for survival with every step. When she meets a Viking warrior and his strange new gods, they set in motion a conflict that could shatter her world...or save it."
Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Early Riser

Early Riser by Jasper Fforde
Early Riser takes place in a world in which the winter months are so inhospitable that a majority of the human population has to hibernate. Fforde is his classic quirky self and has a lot of fun exploring this idea--I loved exploring the norms and culture of this society.

"Every Winter, the human population hibernates. 

During those bitterly cold four months, the nation is a snow-draped landscape of desolate loneliness, devoid of human activity. 

Well, not quite . 

Your name is Charlie Worthing and it's your first season with the Winter Consuls, the committed but mildly unhinged group of misfits who are responsible for ensuring the hibernatory safe passage of the sleeping masses. 

You are investigating an outbreak of viral dreams which you dismiss as nonsense; nothing more than a quirky artefact born of the sleeping mind. 

When the dreams start to kill people, it's unsettling. 
When you get the dreams too, it's weird. 
When they start to come true, you begin to doubt your sanity. 

But teasing truth from the Winter is never easy: You have to avoid the Villains and their penchant for murder, kidnapping and stamp collecting; ensure you aren't eaten by Nightwalkers, whose thirst for human flesh can only be satisfied by comfort food; and sidestep the increasingly less-than-mythical WinterVolk. 

But so long as you remember to wrap up warmly, you'll be fine."
Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

A Cavern of Black Ice (Sword of Shadows, #1)

A Cavern of Black Ice by J.V. Jones
This is another one I've mentioned a lot in the past year, but it's the perfect book if you like your fantasy served freezing cold with extra icicles. Jones has noted that she based this setting off of an extreme version of Alaska's climate, and let me tell you, I've never felt so cold while reading a book. It is truly an unforgiving environment. REVIEW

"As a newborn Ash March was abandoned--left for dead at the foot of a frozen mountain. Found and raised by the Penthero Iss, the mighty Surlord of Spire Vanis, she has always known she is different. Terrible dreams plague her and sometimes in the darkness she hears dread voices from another world. Iss watches her as she grows to womanhood, eager to discover what powers his ward might possess. As his interest quickens, he sends his living blade, Marafice Eye, to guard her night and day. 

Raif Sevrance, a young man of Clan Blackhail, also knows he is different, with uncanny abilities that distance him from the clan. But when he and his brother survive an ambush that plunges the entire Northern Territories into war, he yet seeks justice for his own . . . even if means he must forsake clan and kin. 

Ash and Raif must learn to master their powers and accept their joint fate if they are to defeat an ancient prophecy and prevent the release of the pure evil known as the End Lords."
Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Bear and the Nightingale (Winternight Trilogy, #1)

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
There's no way I could've made this list and not included this book. The Bear and the Nightingale deals with a lot of cold, deadly weather in a magical way that lends perfectly to this polar/arctic theme.  REVIEW

"Winter lasts most of the year at the edge of the Russian wilderness, and in the long nights, Vasilisa and her siblings love to gather by the fire to listen to their nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, Vasya loves the story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon. Wise Russians fear him, for he claims unwary souls, and they honor the spirits that protect their homes from evil. 

Then Vasya’s widowed father brings home a new wife from Moscow. Fiercely devout, Vasya’s stepmother forbids her family from honoring their household spirits, but Vasya fears what this may bring. And indeed, misfortune begins to stalk the village. 

But Vasya’s stepmother only grows harsher, determined to remake the village to her liking and to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for marriage or a convent. As the village’s defenses weaken and evil from the forest creeps nearer, Vasilisa must call upon dangerous gifts she has long concealed—to protect her family from a threat sprung to life from her nurse’s most frightening tales."
Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident

Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eichar
Here's another that I just read last week, but it felt too perfect to not make it onto the list. The Dyatlov Pass incident of 1959--a true story--occurred when a group of nine Russian hikers (most university-aged) died while hiking an area known as Dead Mountain. The cause of death has never been confirmed, so this book is Eichar's attempts to retrace the steps of the hikers, dive into the events surrounding their hike, and make his own hypothesis.

"In February 1959, a group of nine experienced hikers in the Russian Ural Mountains died mysteriously on an elevation known as Dead Mountain. Eerie aspects of the incident—unexplained violent injuries, signs that they cut open and fled the tent without proper clothing or shoes, a strange final photograph taken by one of the hikers, and elevated levels of radiation found on some of their clothes—have led to decades of speculation over what really happened. This gripping work of literary nonfiction delves into the mystery through unprecedented access to the hikers' own journals and photographs, rarely seen government records, dozens of interviews, and the author's retracing of the hikers' fateful journey in the Russian winter. A fascinating portrait of the young hikers in the Soviet era, and a skillful interweaving of the hikers narrative, the investigators' efforts, and the author's investigations, here for the first time is the real story of what happened that night on Dead Mountain."
Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Terror

The Terror by Dan Simmons
This leans to the horror side of things, which only makes the cold climate even more intense. This setup of this one sort of reads like a horror version of Endurance (though, to be honest, Endurance already sounds horrifying to me) and it's truly fantastic. It's also now an adapted TV series, though I have not personally seen it so I have no idea how it holds up to the book.

"The men on board HMS Terror have every expectation of triumph. As part of the 1845 Franklin Expedition, the first steam-powered vessels ever to search for the legendary Northwest Passage, they are as scientifically supported an enterprise as has ever set forth. As they enter a second summer in the Arctic Circle without a thaw, though, they are stranded in a nightmarish landscape of encroaching ice and darkness. Endlessly cold, with diminishing rations, 126 men fight to survive with poisonous food, a dwindling supply of coal, and ships buckling in the grip of crushing ice. But their real enemy is far more terrifying. There is something out there in the frigid darkness: an unseen predator stalking their ship, a monstrous terror constantly clawing to get in.When the expedition's leader, Sir John Franklin, meets a terrible death, Captain Francis Crozier takes command and leads his surviving crewmen on a last, desperate attempt to flee south across the ice. With them travels an Inuit woman who cannot speak and who may be the key to survival, or the harbinger of their deaths. But as another winter approaches, as scurvy and starvation grow more terrible, and as the terror on the ice stalks them southward, Crozier and his men begin to fear that there is no escape. The Terror swells with the heart-stopping suspense and heroic adventure that have won Dan Simmons praise as "a writer who not only makes big promises but keeps them" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). With a haunting and constantly surprising story based on actual historical events, The Terror is a novel that will chill you to your core."
Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

To the Bright Edge of the World

To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey
This is a quietly beautiful book that grabs you entirely unaware and burrows deep into your soul. That sounds dramatic, but it's true. To the Bright Edge of the World splits between a woman named and her husband, the latter of which is current exploring the Alaskan wilderness. REVIEW

"Set again in the Alaskan landscape that she brought to stunningly vivid life in The Snow Child, Eowyn Ivey's second novel is a breathtaking story of discovery and adventure, set at the end of the nineteenth century, and of a marriage tested by a closely held secret. 

Colonel Allen Forrester receives the commission of a lifetime when he is charged to navigate Alaska's hitherto impassable Wolverine River, with only a small group of men. The Wolverine is the key to opening up Alaska and its huge reserves of gold to the outside world, but previous attempts have ended in tragedy. 

For Forrester, the decision to accept this mission is even more difficult, as he is only recently married to Sophie, the wife he had perhaps never expected to find. Sophie is pregnant with their first child, and does not relish the prospect of a year in a military barracks while her husband embarks upon the journey of a lifetime. She has genuine cause to worry about her pregnancy, and it is with deep uncertainty about what their future holds that she and her husband part."
Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer
Okay, so admittedly I'm only about ~20% into this book, but... I can already tell it's going to be a fantastic choice for this particular topic. It's full of that icy cold environment that we all love so much and already has a fantastic setting set up.

"Echo Alkaev’s safe and carefully structured world falls apart when her father leaves for the city and mysteriously disappears. Believing he is lost forever, Echo is shocked to find him half-frozen in the winter forest six months later, guarded by a strange talking wolf―the same creature who attacked her as a child. The wolf presents Echo with an ultimatum: if she lives with him for one year, he will ensure her father makes it home safely. But there is more to the wolf than Echo realizes. 

In his enchanted house beneath a mountain, each room must be sewn together to keep the home from unraveling, and something new and dark and strange lies behind every door. When centuries-old secrets unfold, Echo discovers a magical library full of books- turned-mirrors, and a young man named Hal who is trapped inside of them. As the year ticks by, the rooms begin to disappear and Echo must solve the mystery of the wolf’s enchantment before her time is up otherwise Echo, the wolf, and Hal will be lost forever.."
Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Fatal Passage: The Story of John Rae, the Arctic Hero Time Forgot by Ken McGoogan
Another Arctic explorer--what can I say, I can't get enough of them. This is another incredible story about exploration within the Northwest Passage (in a very different manner and result from that of The Terror) and it's full of some truly neat insights and information about the area and its history.

"John Rae's accomplishments, surpassing all nineteenth-century Arctic explorers, were worthy of honors and international fame. No explorer even approached Rae's prolific record: 1,776 miles surveyed of uncharted territory; 6,555 miles hiked on snowshoes; and 6,700 miles navigated in small boats. Yet, he was denied fair recognition of his discoveries because he dared to utter the truth about the fate of Sir John Franklin and his crew, Rae's predecessors in the far north. Author Ken McGoogan vividly narrates the astonishing adventures of Rae, who found the last link to the Northwest Passage and uncovered the grisly truth about the cannibalism of Franklin and his crew. A bitter smear campaign by Franklin's supporters would deny Rae his knighthood and bury him in ignominy for over one hundred and fifty years. Ken McGoogan's passion to secure justice for a true North American hero in this revelatory book produces a completely original and compelling portrait that elevates Rae to his rightful place as one of history's greatest explorers."
Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Gaslight Dogs (Middle Light, #1)
The Gaslight Dogs by Karin Lowachee
It's been an extremely long time since I've read this book so I'm a little fuzzy on the details, but what I do vividly recall is the strong Arctic setting and nomadic tribe that the story follows.

"At the edge of the known world, an ancient nomadic tribe faces a new enemy-an Empire fueled by technology and war. 

A young spiritwalker of the Aniw and a captain in the Ciracusan army find themselves unexpectedly thrown together. The Aniw girl, taken prisoner from her people, must teach the reluctant soldier a forbidden talent - one that may turn the tide of the war and will surely forever brand him an outcast. 

From the rippling curtains of light in an Arctic sky, to the gaslit cobbled streets of the city, war is coming to the frozen north. Two people have a choice that will decide the fates of nations - and may cast them into a darkness that threatens to bring destruction to both their peoples.."
Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Have you read any of these? What polar/arctic books do you love?


  1. This is such a great list! I see some books I'd love to read, and believe it or not, even though I don't often read non fiction, I love the sound of Fatal Passage and Dead Mountain 😁

    1. Awesome, I highly recommend them both! The story in each of them is so compelling I forget I'm reading nonfiction sometimes, haha.

  2. I've had Dead Mountain on my TBR for awhile - I need to make time for it!

  3. 93? Yikes. Definitely time for some cold reads. :) I love polar/ arctic type settings. Cavern of Black Ice has me super curious for that reason, and The Terror as well (have watched part of the show, but haven't read the book yet).

    Zodiac Station and The Winter Over are two Antarctica- themed thrillers I've read, not sure if they'd be of interest but thought I'd mention 'em. :) Great list !

    1. I really want to check out The Terror as a TV show sometime!

      Both of those books sounds awesome and right up my alley, I am literally checking if my library has them right after I respond to these comments, haha. Thanks for mentioning them! :)

  4. Ooooh there are some great books on this list! I absolutely love the entire Bear and the Nightingale trilogy, and I currently have the Wolf in the Whale checked out from the library. I'm adding a couple others to my TBR. Thanks for the recs!

    1. The Bear and the Nightingale trilogy is so beautiful. And ooh nice, I really hope you love it! The Wolf in the Whale is one of the best books I've read this year.

  5. I adored The Bear and the Nightingale and have been meaning to read To the Bright Edge of the World for ages after falling in love with The Snow Child.

    1. I've also been meaning to read The Snow Child ever since I read To the Bright Edge of the World, haha!