Based on the true story of William Jackson Crawford and Kathleen Goligher, The Spirit Engineer by A.J. West is haunting (pun completely intended). After the tragedy of the Titanic, high society has become obsessed with spirituality and trying to talk to loved ones who have passed away. The Crawford family, who lost a member in the accident, fall victim to another tragedy. In mourning, Elizabeth Crawford has been sneaking away to séances, performed by Kathleen, in an attempt to reach her departed loved ones. After William catchers his wife at one of these meetings, things start to take a very dark turn.
The Spirit Engineer has so many things that I already love; ghosts, victorian settings, a dark academic theme, and (best of all) séances. When you put all those things together it could be easy to pull out a predictable story but West kept me on my toes. Just when I thought I knew exactly what was going on, everything was flipped on its head. And the final reveal at the end was something I could never have predicted.
As well as an exciting narrative, I have to applaud Wests writing style. Writing a stream of consciousness from the perspective of a 1914 engineer is something that probably wouldn’t come naturally to anyone but the language he uses gives you as strong an indication of William Jackson Crawford’s personality as any description could have done. I enjoyed this book and I’m looking forward to whatever A.J. West puts his hand to next.
I would recommend this book to anyone with a love of dark historical fiction, or horror fiction from that time. If you enjoy a Gothic novel or a Shilling Shocker then this is the book for you. It’s available from October 7th and will be sold here on Shroud Books.