The Spirit Engineer by A.J. West | Book Review


'A fiendishly clever tale of ambition, deception, and power.' DERREN BROWN

Belfast, 1914. Two years after the sinking of the Titanic, high society has become obsessed with spiritualism, attending seances in the hope they might reach their departed loved ones. William Jackson Crawford is a man of science and a sceptic, but one night with everyone sitting around the circle, voices come to him - seemingly from beyond the veil - placing doubt in his heart and a seed of obsession in his mind.

Could the spirits truly be communicating with him or is this one of Kathleen's parlour tricks gone too far?Based on the true story of Professor William Jackson Crawford and famed medium Kathleen Goligher, and with a cast of characters including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini, The Spirit Engineer conjures a haunted, twisted tale of power, paranoia and one ultimate, inescapable truth... PRAISE FOR THE SPIRIT ENGINEER' I adored this book. Haunting, witty and deeply moving, The Spirit Engineer is surely set to become a gothic classic.
I was instantly drawn into the mystery and swept along by the shocking twists and turns. A beautifully written novel.' JODIE WHITTAKER, ACTOR'

A.J. West has history at his fingertips and writes brilliantly - so clever it makes your head spin! The Spirit Engineer is a work of true invention and drama that moves at a cracking pace from the very first page and keeps you guessing.

A compelling and daring book.' JEREMY VINE, BROADCASTER

'Set in a historical moment where science and spiritualism meet, The Spirit Engineer is an ingeniously plotted debut novel.' SARAH BURTON, AUTHOR OF THE STRANGE ADVENTURES OF H

'A marvellous and menacing gothic chiller, filled with secrets and soaked in atmosphere, in which the ghouls and fiends are not of the other world, but this one...' NEIL BLACKMORE, AUTHOR OF THE INTOXICATING MR LAVELLE

'A spooky tale of frustrated ambition, hidden loyalties, and desperation, told with wit, charm and devastating twists. A gothic novel that also manages to make you laugh, even if you shouldn't.' JONATHAN HARVEY, PLAYWRIGHT

'With a skilful misdirection that any Edwardian spirit medium would be proud to demonstrate, A.J. West soon turns the screw in this fascinating novel...

Obsession builds until the stunning climax of the final shocking seance and its awful repercussions. Was William rights to be convinced? Did he prove ghosts exist?' ESSIE FOX, AUTHOR OF THE SOMNAMBULIST

'A gripping, gothic story anchored in the political and spiritual chaos of Edwardian Belfast. Part horror, part history, The Spirit Engineer is a chilling and thought-provoking tale of exploitation, faith, deception, fraud, seances, hubris, and prejudice...


My Review

Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. 

I will admit that I had a sneaky look at some reviews on Goodreads before I started this proof copy that I received from A.J West via Duckworth books. I was saddened to read some rather negative reviews which worried me and made me think maybe I wouldn't enjoy the book. I'm so glad I ignored them and read it anyway! I'm also pleased to see that there are now many more reviews with a much more positive opinion. 

I feel that I had an advantage over some in that I was completely naive when starting this book, I had no knowledge of the truth it was based upon. This gave me the ability to read the book in what I would say is it's best light, an utterly fantastic, gripping, mind spinning, spooktacular piece of fiction. 

It was flipping brilliant, I have literally just finished it, I think I read it in 4 sittings in the end, I couldn't put it down today I just needed to finish it. I have come on to write this blog review straight away because I honestly loved it that much. 

Some have written that the book is a slow burn at first, I can see what they mean but in my opinion the writing is so wonderful It didn't feel slow it felt descriptive and immersive. I felt that I was getting to know the characters, the setting. I was given time to understand the personality and mindset of the protagonist. I was drawn in page by page. Once I was in and felt fully immersed the pace quickened and it started twisting my mind, got me questioning got me wondering. 

I know some find it hard to enjoy books where they don't personally 'like' the protagonist, i though don't need to want to be friends with them to enjoy reading about them. I can look past the fact that I wouldn't want to meet them or go for a drink with them and focus myself on the fact that the writer has written of them so well that it has evoked feelings of annoyance, anger and distaste for their traits and actions. 

The Spirit Engineer was so cleverly written, it's really hard to explain without giving anything away and I really don't want to, because reading it with no preconceptions, in my view, is the very best way to enjoy it. I loved it. 

If you enjoy twisty, spooky, chilling tales then you really do need to get yourself a copy of this. 

A perfect Autumn / Halloween read! 


5 out of 5 stars 

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Thank you A.J West & the Duckworth Books team for giving me the opportunity to read this proof copy. The opinions and review above are my own honest words. 

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