THE WARM HANDS OF GHOSTS rating: 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐.
I’ve been waiting for-ev-er. Eons. Okay, five years. But that’s a long time to wait for Katherine Arden. The Winternight Trilogy is one of my favorite fantasy trilogies, hands down. THE WARM HANDS OF GHOSTS by Katherine Arden (Del Rey/Penguin Random House, February 13, 2024) ends the wait: a novel about family, loyalty, and the longing to disassociate from hell on earth.
For the hellscape, Arden picks the trenches of World War I. Good choice. Who wouldn’t want to escape from that? Summon the lotus-eaters! Time to check out, or in this case, check in, with a ghostly hotelier/musician whose wine can make it all better, but at what cost? The visitors must pay for their wine. Not all of the ghosts of the battlefield are imaginary. At least one is all too real.
Laura Iven (a field hospital nurse) gets word that her brother Freddie is missing in action and presumed dead. Even though she herself is wounded from her service, Laura is determined to return to Flanders and either find Freddie alive or find convincing evidence of his death. Rumors about Freddie, when Laura begins to ask around in the Forbidden Zone, are bizarre and contradictory.
I love it when a bit of the paranormal creeps into my historical fiction.
If not for my children and future grandchildren I think a wine-proffering, musical ghost could get the better of me. I don’t know that I would opt for an ugly reality just because it is real. Life is hard, even without being in a war zone.
Reading in context:
Read more about literary enchanter excitement in my blog “Wild Over Emily Wilde” (September 7, 2023).
The only part of the Netflix sci-fi show “Altered Carbon” I enjoyed was the AI hotel, Poe. As in Edgar Allan. He had wine as well. And guns. Lots and lots of guns. You’re welcome to check out of his hotel, but you’re safer inside. Anyone who tries to mess with you with Poe as your concierge is going to end up human sushi.
What I’m reading right now:
LADY TAN’S CIRCLE OF WOMEN by Lisa See (Scribner/Simon & Schuster, June 2023).