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

“Death is a beginning.”

Published in 2021, The Spirit Engineer by A.J. West is set in Belfast, 1914, two years after the sinking of the Titanic, when 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?


I love when a book has purpose, and what better purpose is there than to give a forgotten historical figure a voice. Because while you may not have heard about William Jackson Crawford before, AJ West ensures that his story is one you will remember. And I’m so glad for the opportunity to learn about him.

With a gothic atmosphere and an intriguing story, this spooky premise takes you on an eerie journey that will put a chill in the air and leave you with goosebumps all over.

Admittedly, I found the book a bit of a slow burn at the start, but that’s only because West takes his time to introduce you to the characters, the era, and the setting. So although I spent a while wondering where the story was going, my curiosity remained high and I felt fully immersed in the story.

What follows is an interesting recollection of Crawford’s efforts in trying to validify seances that seek to raise the voices of the dead, and the discussions around spirituality and the supernatural are incredibly thought-provoking.

Crawford’s conversations with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini were especially fascinating, but what I wasn’t expecting was the twists and mystery towards the end. I had no idea what conclusions Crawford would find, but I definitely wasn’t expecting that!

What any good historical fiction book should do after you have put it down is to have you immediately searching the internet for facts, and West has ensured that there is plenty of information out there for you if you’re eager to learn more.

Congratulations on your amazing efforts, AJ West. The high praise is most definitely justified!


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