The Warm Hands of Ghosts: A Novel
If anyone is going to get me to read a WWI novel, it’s Katherine Arden, and thank goodness she did. The pages sparkle with grief and magic, heartbreak and love, death and life. This one will stick with me.
NATIONAL BESTSELLER • 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 author of The Bear and the Nightingale.
“A wonderful clash of fire and ice—a book you won’t want to let go of.”—Diana Gabaldon, author of Outlander
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, Laura 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, where she soon 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 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.
Praise for The Warm Hands of Ghosts: A Novel
“A spectacular tour de force by one of my favorite authors, so wonderful and deep and haunting that you might well imagine it required a Faustian bargain of its own—I love this book so much and want everyone to read it!”—Naomi Novik, author of A Deadly Education
“Katherine Arden’s effortless blend of history and folklore is sure to entrance again with this stunning foray into the twentieth century, where ghosts walk, dreams blunt trauma, and myth becomes real.”—Kate Quinn, author of The Diamond Eye
“Darkly beautiful and deeply humane, this is a story of love that reaches across borders and across oceans, and even penetrates the veil of death. It will stir your heart and settle into your bones.”—Ava Reid, author of A Study in Drowning
“The Warm Hands of Ghosts is a miraculously warm fusion of the mud and bloody horror of war with the unquenchable power of love and the bond formed at the limits of human endurance. It’s a magical and marvelous book.”—Nicola Griffith, author of Menewood
“Absolutely incredible—I had chills all through reading it.”—Shannon Chakraborty, author of The City of Brass
“Katherine Arden isn’t writing about World War I, she’s writing from World War I—the diction, the madness, the desperation. But the hope, too—and maybe even a devil grinning at us from the trenches.”—Stephen Graham Jones, author of The Only Good Indians
“From the brutal trenches of World War I comes a vivid story of grief and love that feels not only timeless, but timely. This exquisite novel took me over like a haunting, and Arden’s eerie, exacting prose followed me long after I closed the cover. It’s one of the best historical fantasies I’ve ever read.”—Emma Törzs
“A marvelous novel, visionary, imaginative, and brilliantly written.”—Anthony Horowitz, author of Magpie Murders
“Arden’s haunting novel is at once immersive and timeless, an ode to the enduring power of memory.”—Vaishnavi Patel, author of Kaikeyi
“A page-turner of the highest order . . . a masterpiece of historical realism seamlessly blended with the supernatural that delivers spine-tingling heroism as well as a searing study of war’s cruelties and the necessity of remembrance . . . a haunting, fantastic read!”—Helene Wecker, author of The Golem and the Jinni
“Arden’s World War I setting is visceral, with real-world horrors that make warm-handed ghosts and seductive devils comforting in comparison. The touch of fantasy enhances the uncanny, shifting realities of a world in turmoil.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“Through resonant prose, [Arden] literalizes the apocalyptic qualities of WWI while dwelling in moral complexity and delivering vibrant, fully fleshed-out characters. The interwoven supernatural elements lend the historical details greater weight. The result is a powerful page-turner.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Set on and off the battlefields of Belgium in the final year of World War I, this novel adds a supernatural touch to its vividly realized historical details.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)