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The Spirit Engineer

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Belfast, 1914. Two years after the sinking of the Titanic, high society has become obsessed with spiritualism in the form of seances that attempt to contact the spirits of loved ones lost at sea. William is a man of science and a sceptic, but one night with everyone sat around the circle something happens that places doubt in his heart and a seed of obsession in his mind. C Belfast, 1914. Two years after the sinking of the Titanic, high society has become obsessed with spiritualism in the form of seances that attempt to contact the spirits of loved ones lost at sea. William is a man of science and a sceptic, but one night with everyone sat around the circle something happens that places 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? This early 20th century gothic set in Northern Ireland contains all the mystery and intrigue one might expect from a Sarah Waters novel. Deftly plotted with echoes of The Woman in Black, readers will be thrilled to discover West’s chilling prose. Based on the true story of William Jackson Crawford and famed medium Kathleen Goligher, and with a cast of characters that include Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini, The Spirit Engineer conjures a haunting tale that will keep readers guessing until the very end.


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Belfast, 1914. Two years after the sinking of the Titanic, high society has become obsessed with spiritualism in the form of seances that attempt to contact the spirits of loved ones lost at sea. William is a man of science and a sceptic, but one night with everyone sat around the circle something happens that places doubt in his heart and a seed of obsession in his mind. C Belfast, 1914. Two years after the sinking of the Titanic, high society has become obsessed with spiritualism in the form of seances that attempt to contact the spirits of loved ones lost at sea. William is a man of science and a sceptic, but one night with everyone sat around the circle something happens that places 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? This early 20th century gothic set in Northern Ireland contains all the mystery and intrigue one might expect from a Sarah Waters novel. Deftly plotted with echoes of The Woman in Black, readers will be thrilled to discover West’s chilling prose. Based on the true story of William Jackson Crawford and famed medium Kathleen Goligher, and with a cast of characters that include Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini, The Spirit Engineer conjures a haunting tale that will keep readers guessing until the very end.

30 review for The Spirit Engineer

  1. 4 out of 5

    Alexis Hall

    *Book received from NG* This is really just kind of … unpleasant. Not necessarily in a bad way, but I did find it hard to get through. Especially when I discovered it was based on a real person, whose history is semi-lost, given his suicide and his final role as the ultimate dupe. The Spirit Engineer is, of course, a fictionalisation—though one whose genre is as ambiguous as its characters. We meet the protagonist, William Jackson Crawford, about to kill himself in Belfast. The book then takes us *Book received from NG* This is really just kind of … unpleasant. Not necessarily in a bad way, but I did find it hard to get through. Especially when I discovered it was based on a real person, whose history is semi-lost, given his suicide and his final role as the ultimate dupe. The Spirit Engineer is, of course, a fictionalisation—though one whose genre is as ambiguous as its characters. We meet the protagonist, William Jackson Crawford, about to kill himself in Belfast. The book then takes us to the events preceding this: Crawford’s troubled family life, his burgeoning (though ill-remunerated) career, the death of his wife’s brother and his son, and finally his involvement Golighers, particularly the sixteen-year-old medium Kathleen Goligher. Crawford, apparently convinced by Kathleen’s command of various psychic phenomenon, begins a scientific investigation into her … um. Abilities? In the book, he ultimately realises how completely he has been defrauded, not just by the Golighers but by those in his life, as well as the depths of his own various traumas, and does a suicide. Although as far as I can tell his extant letters on the subject only re-affirm his convictions: “I have been struck down mentally. I was perfectly alright up to a few weeks ago… It is not the psychic work. I enjoyed it too well. I’m thankful to say that work will stand. It is too thoroughly done for any material loopholes to be left.” I’m honestly having trouble processing a lot of this, partly I think because the whole spiritualism thing is beyond gross, and sadly is not an exploitation of the vulnerable restricted to the Victorians. And, obviously, that’s not the fault of the book. But I did read it in a profound state of permanent flinch. In case, one of the strengths of The Spirit Engineer, as a careful fictionalisation, is that it can, perhaps, be more generous than reality perhaps allows. Not just to its terribly flawed, terribly damaged protagonist, but to the people around him who are, in their own ways, just as exploited as he is: by poverty, by gender, by sexuality, by age, by class, by their own losses. Kathleen, possibly, gets off more lightly than she deserves, given what she does, but it also feels like the right call, given the fact she’s a young woman from a lower class family with very few other prospects that weren’t sex work (there’s also some suggestion, as far as I can tell, from the details of Crawford’s ‘research’ that he might have sexually abused her—he was certainly very interested in ectoplasm from her vagina). In any case, it’s just a sad-feeling book in many respects. But it’s also a masterclass in atmosphere, unreliable narration, limited perspective, deft characterisation, quiet horror and slow-building tension. There’s a weight of terrible inevitability to the final denouement, the revelations losing none of their power despite the fact they should have been obvious throughout. I can’t say I enjoyed reading this—it is just too grim—but I admired it very, very much.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Helen Power

    While this is a historical fiction, it’s easy to read with a flowing, lyrical writing style that captures the essence of the time, but isn’t hard to follow. In the beginning, the narrative reflects a dry humor which is exacerbated by William’s curmudgeonly attitude. He seems like an old man with the way that he’s constantly searching for his pipe and how little he can relate to his children. If it were modern times, he would be the guy standing on his porch, shrieking at the neighbourhood chi While this is a historical fiction, it’s easy to read with a flowing, lyrical writing style that captures the essence of the time, but isn’t hard to follow. In the beginning, the narrative reflects a dry humor which is exacerbated by William’s curmudgeonly attitude. He seems like an old man with the way that he’s constantly searching for his pipe and how little he can relate to his children. If it were modern times, he would be the guy standing on his porch, shrieking at the neighbourhood children to “get off my lawn!” Then, it’s revealed that he’s thirty-four. I laughed out loud at that point, and while I realize that people aged a little faster back then, he is definitely an old soul. This humour didn’t detract from the tension prevalent from the very first pages. There are quite a few surprising turns of events in the storyline, and I genuinely didn’t know what was going to happen. One thing that disappointed me slightly was the fact that Harry Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle, while mentioned on the back of the book, don’t show up until very far into the book. I understand that their names were likely a selling point for the novel, and eeeverything is about marketing these days (groan) but I couldn’t help but feel disappointed that they didn’t play a larger role in the plot. That in no way affects my rating or my review, because I understand that the author and his story has nothing to do with this. It’s just the publishers and their marketing of the book! The entire book carries an air of mystery throughout, and at times the story is quite chilling. The reader never really knows what to believe. Are ghosts and the spiritual real, or just an elaborate hoax? At times, the book reads like a psychological thriller because of this. While the story occasionally suffered from issues with pacing, particularly in the middle (there are a lot of characters to keep track of, and they're not quite distinct enough), the end makes up for this tenfold. There’s a fabulous twist that I didn’t see coming, even though there were clues throughout. I recommend this book to those who like a historical thriller/mystery with paranormal themes and a chilling atmosphere. *Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for the ebook to review* This review appeared first on https://powerlibrarian.wordpress.com/ Book Blog | Instagram | TikTok | Website | Twitter My 2021 Reading Challenge

  3. 5 out of 5

    Victoria Hyde

    I was nervous to read this, as I loved the sound of it so much, I thought there was no way it could fully live up to my expectations. But not only did it surpass them, its at the top of my books of the year. It goes from giving you chills, to checking over your shoulder, to heart palpitations, to choked up with tears, to full on spit your tea out laughing. All of the emotions! The story of The Spirit Engineer is so fascinating and rich with gorgeous lines, but for me the strength are its charact I was nervous to read this, as I loved the sound of it so much, I thought there was no way it could fully live up to my expectations. But not only did it surpass them, its at the top of my books of the year. It goes from giving you chills, to checking over your shoulder, to heart palpitations, to choked up with tears, to full on spit your tea out laughing. All of the emotions! The story of The Spirit Engineer is so fascinating and rich with gorgeous lines, but for me the strength are its characters, particularly William Jackson Crawford. I loved him from the first page. He made mistakes and went about some things in questionable ways, and I did find myself wanting to shake him and give him a bit of a talking to! But it was clear his intentions were always good, and it was all to seek approval and respect from his peers, and the love of his wife and family. There are ghosts, there are plot twists, and there are some of the funniest one liners I have ever read. It's a perfect Halloween read. I can't wait to re read it during spooky season. And I'm so excited to read more from this talented debut author

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dan Bassett

    Belfast, 1914. Two years after the tragic and distressing sinking of the Titanic, high society is under the heady spell and grip of spiritualism and more people grow convinced that not only can they see their dearly departed loved ones, but they can communicate with them through the new and exciting séances which are proving to be all the rage! William Crawford is a family man. A man of science and one who will not be duped by these people who claim the dead converse with them, heavens no it’s not Belfast, 1914. Two years after the tragic and distressing sinking of the Titanic, high society is under the heady spell and grip of spiritualism and more people grow convinced that not only can they see their dearly departed loved ones, but they can communicate with them through the new and exciting séances which are proving to be all the rage! William Crawford is a family man. A man of science and one who will not be duped by these people who claim the dead converse with them, heavens no it’s nothing more than pure fantasy and delusion which people with too much imagination use as a coping mechanism when they refuse to let go of those they have lost. That is, until one day his wife is seen taking part to try and recover what she has lost and William may finally start to believe that maybe the veil between the living and the dead is more tangible if only he can figure out just how it all works so that he may lay claim to being The Spirit Engineer. Obsession starts to take over Williams life as he becomes engrossed with experimentation on all that he does not understand ranging from tricks, to delusion, to even harming those around him all in the name of science and belief. Sure he may make a pretty penny from such endeavours but surely he’s worth people money, right? But as William dives deeper into this world of the unknown, he must tread carefully for it won’t just be the dead that he disturbs when someone he was convinced had left this world years ago, may yet still be alive… Truly haunting, thrilling, damning and gripping, this story will leave you up at night and perhaps you will start to believe too.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kat Dietrich

    The Spirit Engineer by A.J. West is a ghost story. First, let me thank NetGalley, the publisher Duckworth Books and of course the author, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. My Synopsis:   (No major reveals, but if concerned, skip to My Opinions) Belfast, 1914.  34 year old William Jackson Crawford, father of 3, teacher, scientist and engineer.  He is trying to complete his book on scientific calculations. One night he follows his wife The Spirit Engineer by A.J. West is a ghost story. First, let me thank NetGalley, the publisher Duckworth Books and of course the author, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. My Synopsis:   (No major reveals, but if concerned, skip to My Opinions) Belfast, 1914.  34 year old William Jackson Crawford, father of 3, teacher, scientist and engineer.  He is trying to complete his book on scientific calculations. One night he follows his wife, who he suspects is having an affair.  Instead, it seems she is trying to communicate with the dead.  In particular, she is trying to contact her brother and her son. William is a sceptic, but a scientist, and with some wealthy benefactors, is out to prove that medium Kathleen Goligher is a fake.  He surprises himself. My Opinions: First, I will probably be in the minority on this one, but not every book is for every person.  I am not a real fan of historical fiction, but I am a fan of ghosts and psychics and mediums, so I thought..... This book is based on real people.  (view spoiler)[Engineer William Jackson Crawford did indeed investigate medium Kathleen Goligher.  He did, indeed, commit suicide.  (hide spoiler)] The story we read here is based "around" those facts. The book is about psychic phenomena, mediums, religion.  It is about faith, and beliefs.  It is also about grief, obsession and exploitation, and about ambition, lies and deception. I really struggled with this novel.  I hated the main character, and found it impossible to warm to him. He's a pompous ass, so full of himself.  The book had a slow and boring start.  Between that boring beginning and my intense dislike of  William, I seriously considered giving up.  I'm not even sure how I felt with the addition of Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (of whom I am a big fan).  That felt wrong to me. However, I really enjoyed the last 20% of the book, and I absolutely loved the ending! (Oh, and I liked the cover) For a more complete review of this book and others (including the reason I chose to read/review this book, author information and a favorite quotation from the book), please visit my blog: http://katlovesbooksblog.wordpress.com/

  6. 5 out of 5

    Flybyreader

    Ten gazillion sparkling stars for the creepiest, most galvanizing and mind-blowing story I have ever read! I am so dumbstruck after this, I cannot even form a logical sentence to express my feelings. WHAT THE HELL WAS THIS? Death is a beginning and this stunning novel has been the death of me. I was idly looking for a cozy book to read in the spooky season under autumn leaves but it turned out to be a strangely unforgettable gem. It hooked me from the first page and did not loosen its grip until t Ten gazillion sparkling stars for the creepiest, most galvanizing and mind-blowing story I have ever read! I am so dumbstruck after this, I cannot even form a logical sentence to express my feelings. WHAT THE HELL WAS THIS? Death is a beginning and this stunning novel has been the death of me. I was idly looking for a cozy book to read in the spooky season under autumn leaves but it turned out to be a strangely unforgettable gem. It hooked me from the first page and did not loosen its grip until the end and do not even let me get started on that jaw-dropping ending! Ok, now that I vented off, I have to say I’m irrevocably in love with the author A.J.West and I solemnly swear that I will read anything and everything he writes, period. The story of The Spirit Engineer takes place in 1914 and it takes you to amazing places with significant real-life events of the period including Titanic and World War I. You even get a glimpse of two key figures in the story, which was such a pleasant surprise that I still couldn’t recover from the events of that chapter. The style and narration is so witty and charming that I do not remember when was the last time I laughed and felt chills at the same time. The unexpected twists and turns was too much for me, I stopped guessing the end after a while and just went with the flow. Our protagonist William Jackson Crawford is a down-to-earth academician and scientist, who is struggling to keep her family afloat. His life takes a strange turn when he discovers his beloved wife is seeing a spiritual guide, who can conjure spirits and William makes it his life’s mission to prove the deceit but he starts to question his own scientific beliefs as unexplainable events take over his life. It’s impossible to predict what’s going to happen next with this unfathomable and brain-blowing novel and I recommend it to everyone, who loves bone-chilling spooky stories. JUST READ THIS BOOK ALREADY!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Alina Vale

    AAAAHHHHH I GOT AN ARC- ALSO Read that blurb and tell me you aren't interested. You can't. REVIEW Subjective rating:4/5 Writing:4/5 Plot:4/5 Characters:4/5 Themes:5/5 Content Warnings:death, betrayal, abuse (includes breaking fingers), nightmares This book is haunting. In the best way. Belfast, 1914. Two years after the sinking of the Titanic, high society has become obsessed with spiritualism in the form of seances that attempt to contact the spirits of loved ones lost at sea. Historical horror/paranormal? AAAAHHHHH I GOT AN ARC- ALSO Read that blurb and tell me you aren't interested. You can't. REVIEW Subjective rating:4/5 Writing:4/5 Plot:4/5 Characters:4/5 Themes:5/5 Content Warnings:death, betrayal, abuse (includes breaking fingers), nightmares This book is haunting. In the best way. Belfast, 1914. Two years after the sinking of the Titanic, high society has become obsessed with spiritualism in the form of seances that attempt to contact the spirits of loved ones lost at sea. Historical horror/paranormal? Everyone, sign the f*ck up. William Jackson Crawford, aka The Spirit Engineer, is one of the most complex characters you will read about. Especially in a genre like this. In the reader’s eye, he is sweet, smart, mad, stupid, lovely, disgusting. All of these fit him from point to point throughout the story. And this, my friends, is really storytelling. The writing is beautiful, probably because of the elegant phrasing and dialogues. It has a flow that keeps the reader involved. It made me think back to The Great Gatsby. The characters are peculiar, complex and mostly annoying. Their opinions and ways of doing things are fascinatingly original. I hated most of them in the best way. The author also captured the connections between historical context and events and the character voices. Social classes and different genders’ roles in the society were well done. However, the book has flaws. The plot in the first half seemed to miss things. Some characters did not necessarily need to be there. They added nothing to the story, which felt like giving too much attention to the wall behind our characters. Yet, the author is still new and jus like everyone else -maybe even more than everyone else-, has the great potential of improving. Overall, a fantastically written spooky story that will keep you at the edge of your seats.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jules

    I was saying only yesterday how receiving proofs is one sure fire way of reading books I may never have come across. If I’m honest, ghosts- and spirits-type stories are not normally a genre I would levitate towards (see what I did there?!), but I can tell you that I am so PLEASED The Spirit Engineer found it’s way to me. It tells the story of Professor Crawford, who is not a particularly likeable man (& forgive me for saying this, but I’m not in that camp that says you can’t enjoy a book with an I was saying only yesterday how receiving proofs is one sure fire way of reading books I may never have come across. If I’m honest, ghosts- and spirits-type stories are not normally a genre I would levitate towards (see what I did there?!), but I can tell you that I am so PLEASED The Spirit Engineer found it’s way to me. It tells the story of Professor Crawford, who is not a particularly likeable man (& forgive me for saying this, but I’m not in that camp that says you can’t enjoy a book with an unlikeable character - you most certainly can!). A man of engineering and science, he is sceptical about the world of spirits and seeks to prove its nonsense. I don’t want to delve too much into what goes on because I don’t agree with giving plot away in reviews but it leads to what I can only describe as an uncomfortable set of circumstances, where greed and fame blind a man to the truth. The Spirit Engineer is fabulously written, fast-paced & palpitation inducing, particularly in the latter third of the book. For me, the ending was so brilliantly & cleverly done, it overwhelmed me so much that it reduced me to tears. Absolutely outstanding! Admittedly, I know nothing of the true story on which The Spirit Engineer is based but, my word, what a story it is. A perfect read for those spooky autumn nights!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Amber ☁️ (bookswithamb)

    What a phenomenal novel. Immediately upon starting this, I was enveloped in the eery atmosphere of the house. With an almost tangible foreboding, we begin to meet the characters and learn that things are maybe not quite as they seem in this happy family dynamic. What surprised me was the humour. I didn’t expect William to be so witty, but within the first couple of chapters, I had laughed out loud at some of the one-liners. Part 1 sets up the spooky atmosphere perfectly, and there are multiple c What a phenomenal novel. Immediately upon starting this, I was enveloped in the eery atmosphere of the house. With an almost tangible foreboding, we begin to meet the characters and learn that things are maybe not quite as they seem in this happy family dynamic. What surprised me was the humour. I didn’t expect William to be so witty, but within the first couple of chapters, I had laughed out loud at some of the one-liners. Part 1 sets up the spooky atmosphere perfectly, and there are multiple clues and mysteries unfolding from the very beginning. As the story progressed it got increasingly more creepy, and I felt utterly transported into the seance scenes. This is a book that makes you feel as though you have read it with all 5 senses. Each of the characters were brilliantly developed, and I loved watching our morally grey main character become consumed by his obsession, and how his relationships were strained and tested as a consequence. As the book went on, I found myself theorising what was coming, all of which turned out to be wrong. By the ending, I had no idea what I believed. Part of me was bracing myself for an ambiguous ending, but I needn’t have worried. The book was wrapped up in a way that truly made me want to throw it across the room, and I mean that in the best way possible. This is the perfect book for October, and one I can already see myself revisiting time and time again, searching for clues within the pages that I missed the first time round. Truly genius. Thank you to instabooktours, Duckworth and of course A.J. West for sending me a proof copy. I am beyond grateful for my place on the tour.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Thebooktrail

    image: Visit the locations in the novel The Spirit Engineer AJ West has gone and taken one of my favourite subjects, actually two things to read about, and woven a fascinating and gloriously gothic tale. I am nervous about but fascinated by how people used to believe in spiritualism and seances in years gone by. The other thing I love to read about is actual historical figures who believed, dabbled in or forwarded the cause. Conan Doyle for example believed that the Cottingley Fairies were real. Th image: Visit the locations in the novel The Spirit Engineer AJ West has gone and taken one of my favourite subjects, actually two things to read about, and woven a fascinating and gloriously gothic tale. I am nervous about but fascinated by how people used to believe in spiritualism and seances in years gone by. The other thing I love to read about is actual historical figures who believed, dabbled in or forwarded the cause. Conan Doyle for example believed that the Cottingley Fairies were real. This book imagines what life would have been like for William Jackson Crawford who in 1914, became fascinated by the beliefs and work of the Goligher family. West is a scientist and also a sceptic but these two worlds collide in spectacular fashion. As a result, he is given the name of ‘The Spirit Engineer’ This is such a gothic infused and chillingly crafted work of art. I was entranced at the star and that never left me. Maybe there’s some hocus-pocus emanating from the book itself. No, the writing, the scene setting and the characters are good enough to do that on their own. West has mixed fact with fiction and shrouded it all in a gothic veil of mystery. There are some disturbing subjects and ideas to come from this book. Of course, seances and dabbling in ‘ the other side’ are not going to be easy experiences. I just loved the way you are invited to belief or not, but to experience the world of those trying to understand it all. I loved this. A gothic gem even though you do have to sleep with the lights on for a week afterwards.

  11. 4 out of 5

    rosegold

    Absolutely brilliant! This is *the* book for Halloween. It’s an immersive, fascinating and truly creepy read. I was so sold on the cover that I didn’t even bother reading the synopsis and had no idea what to expect, let alone that it’s based on real events. The characters are well drawn and believable, as the story is told from William’s perspective, we see the others through his eyes. As a man of science, William brings a healthy dose of scepticism to the growing fashion for seances. People are Absolutely brilliant! This is *the* book for Halloween. It’s an immersive, fascinating and truly creepy read. I was so sold on the cover that I didn’t even bother reading the synopsis and had no idea what to expect, let alone that it’s based on real events. The characters are well drawn and believable, as the story is told from William’s perspective, we see the others through his eyes. As a man of science, William brings a healthy dose of scepticism to the growing fashion for seances. People are desperately attempting to contact their loved ones who died on the Titanic. Drawn in for financial reasons, William begins to approach these seances with his engineer’s precision and all the rigours of an ongoing scientific experiment. I didn't particularly like any of the characters, but that didn't in any way detract from my enjoyment of the book. The plot is well paced and draws the reader in straight away; the book has a starting hook featuring an event towards the end of the story but then goes back to the beginning, so we learn the events which lead up to this juncture. West’s writing is wonderfully descriptive, and the historical setting is perfect, every detail feels accurate and genuine. It features real events and people (e.g., Houdini and Conan Doyle) which gives it a true authority and makes the spooky scenes even more believable and spine chilling. As the compulsion to pursue the truth and increasing paranoia reach fever pitch, I found I couldn’t put this book down. I love that this is based on real events and people, especially as I’d not heard of William Jackson Crawford nor of Kathleen Goligher. Theirs is a fascinating and frightening cautionary tale, which stays with the reader long after the story is finished. Clearly very well research and an absolute triumph to read. Each section of the book is separated by a marvellous surreal etching.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kimmy C

    A Trip into the Spirit Mania This is like nothing I have read before - a dance around the outskirts of the spirit revolution of the early 1900s - when parlour seances were all the rage, and charlatans duped the wanting-to-believers. Professor William Crawford is a rational man. An engineer, he teaches at the local institute in Belfast, only just keeping his family financially afloat, and he awaits the success of his next book, to release them from the goodwill of the not very likeable Aunt Adelia, A Trip into the Spirit Mania This is like nothing I have read before - a dance around the outskirts of the spirit revolution of the early 1900s - when parlour seances were all the rage, and charlatans duped the wanting-to-believers. Professor William Crawford is a rational man. An engineer, he teaches at the local institute in Belfast, only just keeping his family financially afloat, and he awaits the success of his next book, to release them from the goodwill of the not very likeable Aunt Adelia, who dangles the financial carrot in front of the family she likes to keep as a pet project. A tragic death sees Elizabeth Crawford seeking answers in the spirit world, and William Crawford sees himself drawn in as well. He is determined to prove the theatre of these seances and those who host them. But: he can’t. And goes on to tour as the reputed Spirit Engineer - a rational man who can communicate with the afterlife, with the help of his medium and an assortment of characters. However, it all starts to unravel, leaving the reader not knowing what is real and what is not, those who believe, and those who only believe they believe, until the final part, in which (no spoilers) everything is explained, to great effect. 4.5 plasma trails out of 5. The era-specific writing is superb and really adds to the story. I also researched potassium cyanide to an extent that should anything happen to my husband, the local constabulary would be very interested in my search history. Recommended reading.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Christina Lockyer

    It’s no secret that this book has been one of the most anticipated reads of the year. There has been a frenzy building around this book with some very clever marketing. Naturally this makes you excited to read it but also worried it’s just hype; I’m happy to report it most certainly is not hype - it’s beautiful. Based on a true story we begin in Belfast post titanic demise where we meet Professor William Jackson Crawford, a man of science, his wife Elizabeth and their three children. Although a It’s no secret that this book has been one of the most anticipated reads of the year. There has been a frenzy building around this book with some very clever marketing. Naturally this makes you excited to read it but also worried it’s just hype; I’m happy to report it most certainly is not hype - it’s beautiful. Based on a true story we begin in Belfast post titanic demise where we meet Professor William Jackson Crawford, a man of science, his wife Elizabeth and their three children. Although a clever man the Crawford’s are not exactly the wealthiest family with financial sponsorship from Aunt Adelia (not an Aunt at all) poking her nose in and being the perfect snob - some brilliant exchanges between William and Adelia! What was interesting to learn was that a lot of people turned to seances post titanic with the huge loss of life. This was taboo and often thought to be going against god. Being a man of science William sets out to disprove ghosts and to debunk Mediums with experiments of his own making. What he discovers is the biggest surprise of all. The writing style was fluid, sympathetic to the time period and well researched. The author managed to use humour appropriately without ruining an otherwise serious story. There was sadness, pity and tragedy to contend with. Clever writing providing clues throughout the book that all came together at the end beautifully. It was a perfect penny drop moment where everything became crystal clear and left you paused in your own head while you cast your thoughts back over the story to piece everything together - genius! The author has documented his research and I would urge you to watch this along with the book, it’s fascinating to see the institute where William worked along with other pieces of evidence that appear in the book. Anyone who follows me will know that more often than not I’m let down or deflated by an ending. Impatient and a need for closure to a story that I often don’t get…I am thrilled to say this ending took me by the hand, slapped me round the face several times only to give me a gentle kiss goodbye. An absolute dazzler of an ending. Please pre-order this book. The author has created a masterpiece and one which I think will be talked about for a long time to come.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Robey

    A startlingly brilliant debut from AJ West. A Spirit Engineer is a wonderful tale - full of mystery, intriguing characters and also a surprising amount of humour. William Crawford is such a complex man - clever, naive at times, obsessive and often not very likeable - he is certainly a character to stir up emotions. I loved how the writing was in the first person, and felt that this meant I experienced everything William did first hand. The short chapters made the story zip along brilliantly and A startlingly brilliant debut from AJ West. A Spirit Engineer is a wonderful tale - full of mystery, intriguing characters and also a surprising amount of humour. William Crawford is such a complex man - clever, naive at times, obsessive and often not very likeable - he is certainly a character to stir up emotions. I loved how the writing was in the first person, and felt that this meant I experienced everything William did first hand. The short chapters made the story zip along brilliantly and I loved it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rachael

    This couldn't be more perfect timing. The Spirit Engineer is the ideal Historical Fiction pick to be enjoyed over the Spooky Season. Based on true events we follow the story of William Jackson Crawford and his investigation into the medium Kathleen Goligher, at a time when seances were becoming increasingly popular, and the world had became obsessed with contacting lost loved ones. As we follow his tale, many will say that William is unlikeable, although I would argue he is simply misunderstood. H This couldn't be more perfect timing. The Spirit Engineer is the ideal Historical Fiction pick to be enjoyed over the Spooky Season. Based on true events we follow the story of William Jackson Crawford and his investigation into the medium Kathleen Goligher, at a time when seances were becoming increasingly popular, and the world had became obsessed with contacting lost loved ones. As we follow his tale, many will say that William is unlikeable, although I would argue he is simply misunderstood. He is clearly a man struggling with his own sense of self. He knows he is an intellect, but what of a man, of a husband, and of a father? In these things, to me, he feels lost. As he struggles to find answers to his own grief, and as his obsession grows, perhaps his science can no longer hold all the answers he needs. This is a story of loss and grief, of war and science and séance; the ghosts of the dead and the ghosts of the living. This is a truly haunting and impressive debut. If you can't tell already, I really enjoyed this one. Thank you so much to the publisher for the copy in exchange for an honest review. I couldn't recommend this book more. 5 chilling stars!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    The Spirit Engineer was a surprise for me in so many ways. It is a debut novel written with such confidence, and the level of research (and resulting historical accuracy) into the world of spiritualism in the early 1900’s, creates an unsettling atmosphere, which perfectly represents the struggle between the desperate need to believe in the paranormal phenomenon and the scientific and logical arguments which counteracted it. The encounters between William and Lady Carter were hilarious – having th The Spirit Engineer was a surprise for me in so many ways. It is a debut novel written with such confidence, and the level of research (and resulting historical accuracy) into the world of spiritualism in the early 1900’s, creates an unsettling atmosphere, which perfectly represents the struggle between the desperate need to believe in the paranormal phenomenon and the scientific and logical arguments which counteracted it. The encounters between William and Lady Carter were hilarious – having this dark and dry sense of humour running throughout the book was unexpected but brilliant. It broke up some very intense scenes, ensuring that what could have been a heavy and dark storyline was lessened and made the characters more believable. I love the fact that one book can make you want to laugh, cry and hide behind a cushion in one sitting. Split into four parts, the first three were interesting and well written, but the fourth part was something else! Knowing that the book was based on a true story, I deliberately avoided looking into the characters before reading it and the final scenes were so explosive and hard-hitting as the truth was revealed. I could barely bring myself to read on as it suddenly dawned on me the way in which the story was heading, while at the same time I was unable to put it down. An authentic, engrossing and emotional novel. Thanks to NetGalley and Duckworth Books for the opportunity to read an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Vidhi

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is a book full of mystery, paranormal occurrences and betrayal. It was an interesting concept and I didn't mind the writing however it definitely wasn't my favourite novel I've read lately. I liked the idea of having an engineer coming to terms with the existence of an afterlife and being haunted by people who died both in his past and his present. I really hated the ending though, I feel like it didn't add to the really interesting first three quarters of the novel. What exactly did having This is a book full of mystery, paranormal occurrences and betrayal. It was an interesting concept and I didn't mind the writing however it definitely wasn't my favourite novel I've read lately. I liked the idea of having an engineer coming to terms with the existence of an afterlife and being haunted by people who died both in his past and his present. I really hated the ending though, I feel like it didn't add to the really interesting first three quarters of the novel. What exactly did having the main character essentially molest the woman he thought was a psychic for years add to the story in any way? I wish the author had just left it at William essentially having a split personality when he was awake vs when he was asleep as that would have been a really great twist by itself. 3/5 stars. Thank you to Netgalley and the author for this copy to review

  18. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Pinkett

    I received an early copy of this book in exchange for my independent honest review. Thank you. Firstly the cover and the blurb totally draws you in. I could not wait to read this gothic debut. I find it a difficult one to review though. It is set in Edwardian Belfast, shortly after the First World war and the Titanic disaster. Society are looking for answers,many grief stricken and wanting to believe their loved ones have moved on to a better place. Spiritualism has never been more popular, a pl I received an early copy of this book in exchange for my independent honest review. Thank you. Firstly the cover and the blurb totally draws you in. I could not wait to read this gothic debut. I find it a difficult one to review though. It is set in Edwardian Belfast, shortly after the First World war and the Titanic disaster. Society are looking for answers,many grief stricken and wanting to believe their loved ones have moved on to a better place. Spiritualism has never been more popular, a place of comfort or a place where the vulnerable are taken advantage of? William our main protagonist is a man of science, who is very much absorbed in his own academic world and forever searching for acclaim in his work. This leaves little time for normal family life. He comes across as cold towards his wife and children, he doesn't know how to relate to them. His scientific and atmospheric mind gets in the way of normal everyday life. I did feel sorry for his wife and children. As he finds success by proving The afterlife does exist, he becomes more self absorbed and even more unlikable. The writing style soon draws you in. It is very atmospheric and the tension the author builds, especially during the 'seances' and spiritual experiments is explosive. However for me it started to feel a little overdone and far fetched in places. One could argue this did put the question to mind is this all real or just a scam? The experiments were a little drawn out and I found my attention wavering a little at times. Then suddenly comes the twist and the tension soars again. For me, the reveal left me with more questions than answers. There is no doubt this is an excellent debut and this author can create atmosphere and tension. Perfect for Halloween. I didn't feel the hype quite as much as everyone else. That said I cannot wait to see what this author has in store next! Publish your review!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Katy The Sleepy Reader

    🌟🌟ARC REVIEW🌟🌟 I received this book courtesy of NetGalley for a free and honest review. I initially chose this book based on it description. In the description, Sir Author Conan Doyle is mentioned and I was instantly intrigued, although his role in the story is very small, I have been reading another book which talks about his fascination with the spirit world, and this book drew me in very quickly. I started this book unsure of what to expect but was not disappointed at all! Set in 1914 Belfast, I 🌟🌟ARC REVIEW🌟🌟 I received this book courtesy of NetGalley for a free and honest review. I initially chose this book based on it description. In the description, Sir Author Conan Doyle is mentioned and I was instantly intrigued, although his role in the story is very small, I have been reading another book which talks about his fascination with the spirit world, and this book drew me in very quickly. I started this book unsure of what to expect but was not disappointed at all! Set in 1914 Belfast, Ireland, two years after the sinking of the famed ship, the Titanic. Spiritualism has captivated the high society of the time. William Jackson Crawford, a man of science, an engineer, a skeptic. When he follows his wife one night suspecting her of an affair, he is transported into a world of voices and shadows, is it real or is it all just one big con? After following his wife and discovering what she was up to, he is immersed into the world of spiritualism, even donning the name The Spirit Engineer, his name a marriage of his two sides. The once skeptic is determined to show others the proof he has of the spirit world being real. Can he prove his theories or will he discover more than he bargained for before all is said and done? This book was beautifully written, immersive with vibrant descriptions that transport you directly to the 1900's. I even found some era appropriate music to stream while reading to complete my immersion. The story flows well and I found that I was dying to see what would happen next. I absolutely did not see the ending coming. I love a good twist ending! I cannot wait to see more from this author!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    {4.5 stars} "Oh, Darwin, Darwin, Darwin,' said Stoupe. 'The very enemy of magic himself. Very well then, perhaps not butterflies but even Mr Darwin would struggle to explain where we go when we die. He might be up there now, in fact, sitting on a wooly mammoth and thinking himself a perfect clown." ---------------------------- This book intrigued me with the concept but blew me away with the execution. William is an engineering professor who is frustrated by his wife's belief in communicating with {4.5 stars} "Oh, Darwin, Darwin, Darwin,' said Stoupe. 'The very enemy of magic himself. Very well then, perhaps not butterflies but even Mr Darwin would struggle to explain where we go when we die. He might be up there now, in fact, sitting on a wooly mammoth and thinking himself a perfect clown." ---------------------------- This book intrigued me with the concept but blew me away with the execution. William is an engineering professor who is frustrated by his wife's belief in communicating with spirits. She lost her brother in the sinking of the Titanic and he finds out she's been secretly attending seances to try to contact him. When the family is rocked by another tragedy, William decides to throw his scientific efforts into determining if the seances are real or just a hoax. His work becomes famous as he begins to believe that communing with spirits just may be real. His passion grows into a frenzy and he is shaken when he meets none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini who don't think his experiments are as clean as he thinks. From there we follow his descent into madness as he is haunted by these spirits and whether they are real or not. There were definitely moments along the way that I wondered where things were going and whether I would like that direction but I was equally intrigued by what William was experiencing and wanted to figure it out. I loved the scientific approach to his experiments and how we were along for the ride with him through each trial. I did figure out one of the twists but the other one gobsmacked me. I loved the ending, the last quarter was just perfectly done. This one is a perfect creepy read for spooky season. I especially loved the fact that this was based on a true story, so it felt like while I was entertained I was learning a fun piece of history. Thanks to Netgalley for a copy. All opinions above are my own.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Linda Kelly

    Loved this one, perfect for this time of year and I never saw the end coming!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sarah-Hope

    A. J. West's The Spirit Engineer is a slow boil of a book. The first 30-40% of the novel is set-up. After that, the pace quickens steadily, and readers become increasingly unsure about the motives and actions of its characters. The plot centers around a family, a medium, and an investigation of paranormal abilities. The Spirit Engineer opens in the early 20th Century with a family in turmoil and consistently short on funds: • William, the husband, is an engineering instructor at a boys' school wh A. J. West's The Spirit Engineer is a slow boil of a book. The first 30-40% of the novel is set-up. After that, the pace quickens steadily, and readers become increasingly unsure about the motives and actions of its characters. The plot centers around a family, a medium, and an investigation of paranormal abilities. The Spirit Engineer opens in the early 20th Century with a family in turmoil and consistently short on funds: • William, the husband, is an engineering instructor at a boys' school who hopes the textbook he's writing will change their economic outlook and will win him the respect he's convinced is due to him • Elizabeth, the wife, overwhelmed by their three children—especially their restless, energetic young son—and the household responsibilities that have fallen on her shoulders since their cook/maid left unexpectedly, and who is still mourning the death of her brother on the Titanic • "Aunt" Adelia, a wealthy widow who has "taken the family under her wing," helping them manage economically while consistently proving an unwanted, disruptive presence The family, particularly William, become increasingly involved with a young medium. At first, William is determined to prove her a fraud; then he becomes a supporter, gaining fame by publicizing her abilities and his scientific proof that these are genuine. That, in a nutshell, is the plot. As the family becomes wealthier, William's behavior becomes more controlling and self-serving. What develops from these changes in William provides the real momentum for the novel—and I don't want to say any more for fear of letting slip key moments in the plot. Near the end, the novel contains some significant violence—not described in detail, but the sort of thing that some readers might choose to avoid. Ultimately however, that violence is contextualized and doesn't become the key element of the novel. The Spirit Engineer is based on a real-life medium and the engineer investigating her powers. If you want to read more before you pick up this book, you can go here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathlee... You may, however, prefer to leave the actual history until after you've spent time in West's version of these events. I received a free electronic review copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley; the opinions are my own.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Travelling Bookworm

    “There is an ocean of souls coming, Professor, can you feel them? So many dead. More of them every day. Listen to your lost ones, before their voices are drowned in the flood.” -------------------- Never has a terrible spiral that plummets into lunacy and darkness been so entertaining. Absolutely gripping from the first page until the last, The Spirit Engineer was a surprising read that drags you along with the ride all the way through with its fantastic plot, impeccable atmosphere, and impressive “There is an ocean of souls coming, Professor, can you feel them? So many dead. More of them every day. Listen to your lost ones, before their voices are drowned in the flood.” -------------------- Never has a terrible spiral that plummets into lunacy and darkness been so entertaining. Absolutely gripping from the first page until the last, The Spirit Engineer was a surprising read that drags you along with the ride all the way through with its fantastic plot, impeccable atmosphere, and impressive writing style that manages to balance humor and tension perfectly. I was completely hooked, breathlessly following this despicable specimen of a main character with so much pleasure, horror, and morbid curiosity. I would definitely recommend to everyone who is a fan of gothic horrors and has a strange little pull towards the paranormal world of seances. An absolute gem for the spooky season. Don’t miss out. “Imagine all those lost souls trapped beyond the veil, watching us as we go about our lives. I think I should like to die a grizzly, unavenged death in a hotel room, wouldn’t you? Imagine the scandalous things one would see, floating above the bedrooms.”

  24. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    This definitely appears to be a marmite kind of book. I really wanted to love it but I struggled with the first part which is approximately 20% of the book. It just didn’t grab me. In part 2 the séances began and it got more interesting but I’m afraid it still just didn’t wow me. It was all quite gloomy and depressing and with an arrogant main character I couldn’t root for. It was only when I was nearly finished and started looking at reviews that I found this is actually based around a true story. This definitely appears to be a marmite kind of book. I really wanted to love it but I struggled with the first part which is approximately 20% of the book. It just didn’t grab me. In part 2 the séances began and it got more interesting but I’m afraid it still just didn’t wow me. It was all quite gloomy and depressing and with an arrogant main character I couldn’t root for. It was only when I was nearly finished and started looking at reviews that I found this is actually based around a true story. Mediumship was very popular at the time it is set (1920’s) and the story revolves around an engineer, William Jackson Crawford and his challenge to prove whether Kathleen Goligher, the primary medium for the well known Goligher Circle, is a genuine medium or a fraud. He undertakes countless experiments, becoming more and more obsessed. He writes books on the subject and becomes quite well known and well off. I will not go further into the plot to spoil your enjoyment. Well researched and great gothic atmosphere, I could visualise everything, but I’m afraid it wasn’t for me. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy.

  25. 4 out of 5

    B.S. Casey

    The year is 1914 in Belfast. William Jackson Crawford thinks the height of his problems are suddenly losing his housekeeper for his upper-middle class family, but little does he know. Since the Titanic disaster two years prior, the upper elite of society have begun dabbling in the occult, driven by grief to try and contact their dearly departed - including his wife. William prides himself on being a man of logic and science, a proud skeptic, but there are things even he cannot explain when he me The year is 1914 in Belfast. William Jackson Crawford thinks the height of his problems are suddenly losing his housekeeper for his upper-middle class family, but little does he know. Since the Titanic disaster two years prior, the upper elite of society have begun dabbling in the occult, driven by grief to try and contact their dearly departed - including his wife. William prides himself on being a man of logic and science, a proud skeptic, but there are things even he cannot explain when he meets a young medium named Kathleen. He is driven to find the facts behind the strange and spiritually occurances - is this just a cruel trick, or is something else lurking just behind the veil? Based on the true story of William Crawford and the famous mystic Kathleen Goligher, along with familar characters such as Houdini and Doyle, this fictional retelling of a chilling story is one to read with the lights on. The Spirit Engineer opens up to scenes of upper-middle class domesticity, a beautiful family with less than beautiful pride. The man of the house, William Crawford, is immediately thrust into the spotlight and never steps out of our view the whole time. He is sexist and classist, such as you would expect with the times and his status, but it made for a strange feeling - how odd it is to go through the story loathing the main character for their attittude but being so intruiged in their life and still hoping for their success along the way. Victim or Villian? That's up to you to figure out. The other characters, from his family, to the friends he meets along the way were so full of life - so brilliantly crafted that it feels the reader could reach out and touch them. This might be a ghost story, but it's about the ghosts that haunt us in real life too - about loss, family and the pressures we face in the world of the living. Written in period language, there was a small adjustment period with this book but after a few chapters I was completely immersed in the story - it started off slow, almost mundane, before descending into utter, spine-chilling chaos in the most unexpected ways. It's no secret this book has been highly anticipated, so I was definitely concerned this wouldn't live up to the hype around it's name - but I was not disappointed. Atmospheric, eerie and otherworldly - this was like if 'The Greatest Showman' was set in a graveyard during the witching hour and I loved every page of it. "A mystery is only a fact in disguise." RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jacqueline sharp

    WOW, WOW, WOW, If you like a good creepy read that will make the hairs on your neck stand on end, or just a good creepy read to go with the time of the year then grab a copy of this excellent book now. For A.J.West’s debut novel this is brilliant I was gripped from the start. Based in some truth of the life of William Jackson Crawford and his scientific look into the young medium Kathleen Goligher. Narrated throughout by William who is a gentleman, an academic and a scientist, with dreams of one WOW, WOW, WOW, If you like a good creepy read that will make the hairs on your neck stand on end, or just a good creepy read to go with the time of the year then grab a copy of this excellent book now. For A.J.West’s debut novel this is brilliant I was gripped from the start. Based in some truth of the life of William Jackson Crawford and his scientific look into the young medium Kathleen Goligher. Narrated throughout by William who is a gentleman, an academic and a scientist, with dreams of one day being famous for his scientific research. He is married to Elizabeth, and they have three children two girls and a son Robert. Money is tight and they are helped out by a benefactor Aunt Adelie, although she is not keen on William she supports Elizabeth. As the story begins it is July 1920 William is sat looking out to see as he remembers some promising words: Death is just the beginning. We then jump back to 1914 Belfast, two years after the sinking of the Titanic and with war on the horizon. When their housemaid Hazel, seems to suddenly up and leave the family William is bewildered as to why she has left them. Until he finds a letter that she had written to Elizabeth that is a little cryptic and could be read in different ways, William wants to know what Hazel had meant. Before long they have a new housemaid a mute Rose, but where did she come from? William believes his wife has been attending church one evening a week until someone asks why they haven’t seen her for a while. This makes William wonder where his wife has been disappearing to each week, so follows her, to a rough part of the docks. As William looks up at the building his wife has entered he sees a young girl looking down on him,he later discovers this to be the young Kathleen Goligher. What is his wife doing here? Elizabeth’s brother had died on the Titanic, and she is desperate to contact him, but William believes this to be nothing but a load of nonsense and people trying to make money out of another persons loss. As the story progresses. William finds himself challenged to prove through his scientific mind that it is not possible to talk to the dead. The money would come in handy and he takes on the challenge. It’s here that the reader is drawn more into the goings on. As William looks at every possible thing he can think of to prove whether this is genuine or not. But what will his findings prove. As he becomes known as The Spirit Engineer. With meetings with the likes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini. I love how even though this is a creepy sort of read there is some brilliantly added humour, with great one liners. You will be chuckling one minute, crying the next, and then jumping at every creak or groan you here. I think .A.J.West has done a great job of telling this story, making it engaging. With a number of three dimensional characters some you will love some you won’t. But if this is you kind of read then definitely grab a copy now. Perfect for a Halloween read. I would like to thank #netgalley and #duckworthbooks for an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest, fair and unbiased review. An absolute gem of a book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Holli

    I finished this book after two days and have been on the most incredible high since. What a journey. I am absolutely in awe of A.J West and his talent. For those saying 'It was a slow start' in other reviews, I feel you may have completely missed the point of the book. Of William's development as a person and his overall journey. This had me turning the pages faster than I could handle. AND THE ENDING. Lord. The most perfect ending. It is so exciting to read a book where the details aren't rushe I finished this book after two days and have been on the most incredible high since. What a journey. I am absolutely in awe of A.J West and his talent. For those saying 'It was a slow start' in other reviews, I feel you may have completely missed the point of the book. Of William's development as a person and his overall journey. This had me turning the pages faster than I could handle. AND THE ENDING. Lord. The most perfect ending. It is so exciting to read a book where the details aren't rushed, the ending is absolutely phenomenal and you IMMEDIATELY reccomend it to everyone you know. I was so lucky to be a part of this tour with @instabooktours who completely value my honesty when it comes to reviews.

  28. 5 out of 5

    SharleneH

    One of the most anticipated reads of the year and perfect for the spooky season. . Based on the story of William Jackson Crawford and medium Kathleen Goligher, this early 20th century gothic set two years after the sinking of the Titanic is full of mystery and intrigue. . With a cast of characters that include Harry Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle you can't help by be swept up in the tale. . Those of a nervous disposition may want to read this with the lights on as enough chills, twists and turns to k One of the most anticipated reads of the year and perfect for the spooky season. . Based on the story of William Jackson Crawford and medium Kathleen Goligher, this early 20th century gothic set two years after the sinking of the Titanic is full of mystery and intrigue. . With a cast of characters that include Harry Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle you can't help by be swept up in the tale. . Those of a nervous disposition may want to read this with the lights on as enough chills, twists and turns to keep you entertained and guessing. . A well written, entertaining, scary and funny book with great characters and an even better story. It's been a pleasure and a privilege to read this book. .

  29. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    In Belfast in 1914, there is an added interest in spiritualism again. More people than ever are attending seances again, with the hope of getting back in contact with loved ones who have since departed. William Crawford Jackson’s wife, Elizabeth, is one of those from high society who has a particular interest in this, hoping to get back into contact with her brother who was lost on the Titanic two years before. He had discovered this by accident when he found a letter from the maid who has just l In Belfast in 1914, there is an added interest in spiritualism again. More people than ever are attending seances again, with the hope of getting back in contact with loved ones who have since departed. William Crawford Jackson’s wife, Elizabeth, is one of those from high society who has a particular interest in this, hoping to get back into contact with her brother who was lost on the Titanic two years before. He had discovered this by accident when he found a letter from the maid who has just left and he decides to follow Elizabeth to see where she is going. He sees her disappear into a house and notices a figure in the upstairs window looking down on him. It turns out that this is the famed medium, Kathleen Goligher. Jackson who is a Professor of Engineering is not particularly happy about this. He is very sceptical that it is real and dissuades Elizabeth from going to them again. Money is tight in the house and his new textbook that the publisher thought would do well has sold poorly. He meets with a man at a party who persuades him to undertake some scientific research into mediums. His investigations become famous and he becomes known as the Spirit Engineer. However, will he prove one way or the other if these are genuine contacts with those now dead or just fraud… I am not a great reader of Gothic melodramas, there is nothing wrong with them per se, it is just not my sort of thing, but I quite liked this. It is based on real events and people that West has used to create this story, adding to and embellishing the facts with a narrative that flows really well. The main character, William Crawford Jackson, is not particularly likeable, suffering as much from his own internal demons and vanity as he does from external pressure from society at that time. I don’t mind unlikeable characters in books as it makes for a more interesting story and it works in this book as the plot builds towards the end. 3.5 stars

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    What an atmospheric read this is! Genuinely frightening and disturbing with a curious main character, through whom we see events unfold. Wonderfully read by Dickon Farmar. The novel lends itself very well to the audio format.

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