With cosy fantasy being a relatively new arrival on the subgenre block, there’s a lot of confusion about what exactly it is. It’s also a Popsugar Reading Challenge prompt this year, and the variations in the cosiness of the reads is huge. I have therefore decided that all fantasy exists on a spectrum of grim to cosy. Until the day someone manages to write cosy grimdark (I mean, John Wiswell managed to make horror cosy, so it’s possible).

What makes a book cosy?

✔ Kind characters…

✔ … who are not killed off.

✔ The dog* definitely does not die.

✔ It’s not about saving the whole world.

✔ They probably drink a lot of tea or coffee. And there’s cake.

What makes a book grim?

✔ Characters are selfish, cruel, or generally unlikable.

✔ If you do like them, they will die.

✔ Lots of other people die too…

✔ … and the dog*.

✔ The whole world is doomed.

✔ There’s no time to stop for dinner because something terrible is happening.

*The dog is interchangeable for any lovable animal companion. In the grimmest of books, they are too good to exist in the terrible world, and therefore the author must kill them off or risk looking too nice.

So obviously a lot of books fall between these (completely unofficial) definitions.

Presenting the Cosyometer

Or Cozyometer if you’re American.

A "Cosyometer" graphic showing 8 book covers above a thermometer going from grim to cosy. The books are: A Storm of Swords, The Fifth Season, Black Sun, Nettle and Bone, The Invisible Library, Paws and Portals, Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries, Legends and Lattes.

I first made the graphic because I was describing Paws and Portals as more cosy than grim, and I wanted a way to show where it fell. But then I thought other people might like to make their own, and what better time to share than during Wyrd and Wonder.

I have provided graphics with both spellings. The ZIP file also contains portrait versions, the landscape versions without the book rectangles, and the thermometer image by itself (SVG and PNG).

UK Cosyometer | US Cozyometer | Download ZIP File

License: These graphics are being provided free for personal use and for the purpose of promoting books, games, films or other creative endeavours. You cannot sell the graphics or upload them to stock image sites. Attribution isn’t necessary but is always appreciated.

Whereabouts is your comfort zone on the Cosyometer? Lately, I’ve been reaching for much more cosy reads, but usually I’d say I read somewhere in the middle. Not too grim, not too cosy…