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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of The Warm Hands of Ghosts by Katherine Arden

Katherine Arden, author of the captivating Winternight trilogy, here shares a mysterious, haunting historical fiction story with a speculative twist, set against the backdrop of the trudging, brutal destruction of World War I.


Armageddon was a fire in the harbor, a box delivered on a cold day. It wasn't one great tragedy, but ten million tiny ones, and everyone faced theirs alone.

I loooooved the mix of vivid historical setting and magical elements in Katherine Arden's Winternight trilogy (see links to my rave reviews below).

In The Warm Hands of Ghosts, Arden presents the story of Laura, a combat nurse who is searching for her brother Freddie in the confusion, relentless mud, and grim destruction of the Great War.

Freddie is reported as having died, but strange and unnerving clues indicate to Laura that something more mysterious may have happened to him. Others keep sighting Freddie, and Laura herself feels that he is near.

A German spy is on the loose in a small French community, and sources tell Laura that he may be linked to Freddie. Meanwhile Laura and a companion have an inexplicable, haunting experience in a fabled hotel with a sinister violinist who seems to control their emotions--and tempt them with forbidden, lost loved ones.

The story's pacing felt quite slow and the tone extremely dark and hushed for the majority of the book, so that my attention frequently wavered. The slog of fighting and of the horrifyingly deadly war is conveyed with vivid, crushing, uncomfortable detail. I was glad when Laura began to allow herself to be vulnerable toward the end of the novel, and I very much liked the resolutions of the story.

I received a prepublication edition of this book courtesy of NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group--Ballantine, Del Rey.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

Arden is also the author of the Winternight trilogy, which I loved: The Bear and the Nightingale, The Girl in the Tower, and The Winter of the Witch. I mentioned these books in the Greedy Reading Lists Six Wonderfully Witchy Stories and Six More Wonderfully Witchy Stories to Charm You.

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