Book Review: The Warm Hands of Ghosts by Katherine Arden

My book review on The Warm Hands of Ghosts by Katherine Arden.

Title: The Warm Hands of Ghosts

By: Katherine Arden

Genre: Historical

Pages: 336

Release Date: February 13th, 2024

Publisher: Del Rey

Rating: ★★★★★


Summary from Goodreads:

During the Great War, a combat nurse searches for her brother, believed dead in the trenches despite eerie signs that suggest otherwise, in this hauntingly beautiful historical novel with a speculative twist from the New York Times bestselling author of The Bear and the Nightingale

January 1918. Laura Iven was a revered field nurse until she was wounded and discharged from the medical corps, leaving behind a brother still fighting in Flanders. Now home in Halifax, Canada, she receives word of Freddie’s death in combat, along with his personal effects—but something doesn’t make sense. Determined to uncover the truth, Laura returns to Belgium as a volunteer at a private hospital. Soon after arriving, she hears whispers about haunted trenches, and a strange hotelier whose wine gives soldiers the gift of oblivion. Could Freddie have escaped the battlefield, only to fall prey to something—or someone—else?

November 1917. Freddie Iven awakens after an explosion to find himself trapped in an overturned pillbox with a wounded enemy soldier, a German by the name of Hans Winter. Against all odds, the two men form an alliance and succeed in clawing their way out. Unable to bear the thought of returning to the killing fields, especially on opposite sides, they take refuge with a mysterious man who seems to have the power to make the hellscape of the trenches disappear.

As shells rain down on Flanders, and ghosts move among those yet living, Laura’s and Freddie’s deepest traumas are reawakened. Now they must decide whether their world is worth salvaging—or better left behind entirely.


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Katherine Arden is one of the best Fantasy and Horror authors I've had the pleasure to read. When I picked up this book, I was not expecting what was to come.

This was an amazing historical fiction, with twists and turns that pushed the story forward in a delicate way, but entertained with ease. Not a genre I would have expected from Arden, but more proof that she can write whatever she puts her mind to.

WW2 stories tend to have a sadness that breaks the heart, but Arden has weaved a wonderful tale of hope in a time of great pain. 

The story is split between Freddie Iven and his sister Laura. Freddie is knee deep in the trenches of war when a disaster happens. By all counts, he should be dead, but by sure luck he is alive, but trapped. In the darkness, there is another sole with him, a German soldier. Their lives are now intwined for better or worse.

When Laura hears of her brothers fate, she doesn't believe it. In her quest to find the truth about Freddie, she forms bonds that cannot be broken, but the truth might be harder to swallow than Laura had hoped.

I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars. It was a wonderful story. Heartwarming, hopeful and amazing. I can't wait to see what Arden brings to the table next. 

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.

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