stepping outside of time | review corner

by - 2:00 PM

Hello there! We're officially one month done with 2024 which is absolutely wild to me. One of my personal goals this year is to try and read at least 30 minutes each day which has been contributing greatly to my hope of building a more consistent reading routine into my daily life. I've actually been able to tackle books on my tbr and even my physical backlist (who would've thought that was possible?) 

In an attempt to also be more consistent, I'm going to try and also write more reviews - I've realized that I go through waves of perfectionism when it comes to blogging, and that has become a huge deterrent in the past year when it came to actually sitting down and drafting posts. So 2024 is the year to change that and we're starting off strong with two possible contenders for my favorite reads of the year already!

isbn: 978-0593128251 | pages: 336
       publication date: February 13th, 2024 | source: netgalley, e-arc
      genre: adult, historical fantasy, paranormal
     rating: 7.5/10 

       B O O K S H O P *    |     G O O D R E A D S   
links with an (*) are affiliate where, when used to purchase gives me a small commission to support my blog at no extra cost to you!

I received a digital ARC from the publisher -  I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts are my own honest opinion.

The Warm Hand of Ghosts is easily my most anticipated release of 2024 ever since I first heard Katherine Arden talk about the premise during her Instagram lives in 2020. Taking place during the Great War with nods to Dante's Inferno and Milton's Paradise Lost, this novel was heartbreaking and hopeful and absolutely worth the wait. The story opens up by introducing us to a pair of siblings in two different timelines of the Great War - Laura is a former nurse who was sent home after an accident and her brother Freddie is a soldier on the frontlines.

The story starts off very slow as Freddie and Laura set the stage for their individual acts. Laura is recovering from an injury while Freddie is on the run after nearly being killed. When Laura receives a package with Freddie's belongings, he's assumed to be dead, but she notices some items missing which prompts her to return to the frontlines to find answers. The best way I can describe the prose is quietly heartbreaking as the novel tackles difficult topics about war and the trauma that it inflicts on the soldiers and medical staff. Each character deals with their own trauma in different ways and we get to see how their experiences haunt them throughout their journey as they struggle to find a reason to continue holding onto hope for a better future.

My personal favorite aspect however, has to be the exploration of death and memories. I could read a whole novel just following Faland and exploring his backstory and motives. There are hints of a possible angelic background and I was absolutely fascinated by the connection of music and memories and how Faland used his violin as an anchor to humanity. The Warm Hand of Ghosts feels vastly different from Katherine Arden's Winternight Trilogy which I absolutely adore but this novel stands strong as a new addition to her bibliography. The questions surrounding one's loss of humanity during war haunts both the characters and the readers long after the story itself concludes.

favorite line: The horsemen galloped, disembodied, and the old world writhed in torment, giving birth to the new.

pages: 498  | source: physical/own
publication date: November 5th, 2019
genre: adult, fantasy, fabulism
rating: 9.2/10

       B O O K S H O P *    |     G O O D R E A D S   
links with an (*) are affiliate where, when used to purchase gives me a small commission to support my blog at no extra cost to you!

The Starless Sea is like the bookish community's best kept secret in the sense that despite being largely beloved, the details of the plot have managed to remain a mystery. I was genuinely shocked to find that this came out in 2019, how has it been four years and how have I have gone so long without (a) picking it up and (b) getting spoiled? 

Diving back into Erin Morgenstern's writing after so many years feels like entering the pages of a fairytale and for a novel that shares the magic of stories, that sentiment is quite appropriate. The novel itself doesn't follow a linear plot but we are introduced to Zachary Ezra Rawlins and follow his journey as he discovers a copy of Sweet Sorrows and finds himself amongst one of the short stories. As he discovers more about the Starless Sea, readers are treated to interludes and excerpts that speak of a place filled with stories and magic.

This novel reads like a love letter to literature and the concept of stories.  It's really hard to capture into words how mesmerizing the reading experience was but that is also what makes the story so compelling. With each vignette shared, more is revealed about the Starless Sea that brings to life all these various plot lines that are woven together to create this amazing adventure. Each character that is introduced has their history shared in a way that feels intimate and despite being more plot-driven, I'm left incredibly endeared to all of them. The relationships that are developed are honestly adorable even if they aren't explicitly portrayed as it isn't the story's main focus. 

The unassuming nature of The Starless Sea is ultimately what makes it so memorable and impactful. Erin Morgenstern manages to capture the aching feeling of finishing a story and make that a central theme while simultaneously hitting you with that same feeling at the end as you return to reality. It's magical, slightly painful, and just absolutely life-changing.

favorite line: We are the stars. We are all stardust and stories. 

I'm so excited that The Warm Hand of Ghosts releases TODAY so I  can add it to my physical shelves and would love to hear your thoughts if anyone decides to pick up! If you've read The Starless Sea please also let me know because I am still not recovered, my brain is still spinning and my jaw is still hanging!

I'm also planning on starting a new type of review soon called "In the Mailbox" which is going to be a more casual letter-style review to the author, the characters or the book itself. Hopefully by changing things up a bit I can get over any mental gymnastics and actually post more consistently in 2024!

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  1. I read The Starless Sea in the height of lockdown and I remember it being an odd comfort for me. I'm really glad you enjoyed it too!

    1. odd comfort is such a great way to describe it! it was so strange at times but I loved it!