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Publisher Description

‘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 séances 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...


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 séance 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, séances, hubris, and prejudice… accomplished and page-turning. Fans of Penny Dreadful and The Nevers will love it.’ GARETH RUSSELL, HISTORIAN AND AUTHOR OF THE SHIP OF DREAMS: THE SINKING OF THE TITANIC AND THE END OF EDWARDIAN BELFAST

Fiction & Literature
10 July
Duckworth Books

Customer Reviews

bubbles1962 ,

Perfect Halloween read, or if you like a creepy story with some good twists

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.

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