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  • Published: 5 March 2024
  • ISBN: 9781529920048
  • Imprint: Century
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • RRP: $34.99

The Warm Hands of Ghosts

the sweeping new novel from the international bestselling author


Freddie’s clothes came to Veith Street instead of Blackthorn House, and the telegram that ought to have preceded them didn’t reach Laura at all. She wasn’t surprised. Nothing had worked properly, not since December.

December 6, to be exact. In the morning. When the Mont Blanc had steamed into Halifax Harbour, oil on deck and high explosive in her hold. She’d struck a freighter, they said, and the oil caught fire. Harbor crews were trying to put it out when

the flames found the nitroglycerine.

At least that was how rumor had it. “No, I don’t doubt it’s true,” Laura told her patients when they asked, as though she would know. As if, after three years as a combat nurse, she’d learned about high explosive from the things it wrote on

people’s skin. “Didn’t you see the fireball?”

They all had. Her father had been in one of the boats trying to drown the blaze. Halifax afterward looked as if God had raised a giant burning boot and stamped. Fresh graves in Fairview sat snug beside five-year-old headstones from the

Titanic, and the village of the Mi’kmaq had vanished.

And the post was a disaster. That was why she’d not heard from Freddie. He was her brother, he was a soldier; of course a backlog of his letters was lost in a sack somewhere. She had no time to think of it. She had too much to do. The first makeshift hospital had been scraped together in a YMCA the day after the explosion. The snow was bucketing down and Halifax was still on fire. Laura had walked past the uncollected dead. Shut their eyes when she could reach them, laid a hand once

on a small bare foot. Three years of active service, and she was familiar with the dead.

Familiar too with the sight of an overrun triage station, although it was her first time to be met not with soldiers, but with parents clutching their burnt children. Laura had taken off her coat, washed her hands, reassured the nearest wild-eyed mother. Had a word with the overwhelmed civilian doctor and set about organizing the chaos.

That was a month ago—or was it six weeks? Time had stretched, as it did when wounded poured in during a battle, reduced not to minutes or hours, but to the pulse and the breath of whoever was under her hands. She slept standing up, and told herself that she was too busy to wonder why Freddie didn’t write.

“That damned virago,” muttered one doctor, half-annoyed, half-admiring. The Barrington hospital was full of willing hands. The Americans, blessedly, had piled a train full of all the gauze, disinfectants, and surgeons in Boston and sent it north.

It was January by then, with snowdrifts head-high outside. The gymnasium had been turned into a hospital ward, sensibly laid out, ruthlessly organized, competently staffed. Laura was doing rounds, bent over a bed.

The Warm Hands of Ghosts Katherine Arden

In a world torn apart by war, a brother and sister fight to find each other. The sweeping new novel from New York Times bestselling author Katherine Arden.

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