I was kindly sent The Spirit Engineer by Duckworth Books after I asked if they’d send me a copy (you don’t ask, you don’t get)!
Why did I ask for it? Well, two reasons: the front cover is absolutely stunning and the reviews for it were all coming back as really positive!
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Please also note that this book was sent to me by Duckworth Books in return for an honest review.
The Spirit Engineer is a (an? who knows!) historical fiction novel based on a true story. It’s a bit creepy, it’s constantly eery and you spend the whole book feeling like something isn’t quite right and that something else is going on.
The Spirit Engineer plot – 4.5/5
William is a man of science and logic. But one day when he’s taken to a seance and is incredibly impressed by what he believes to be “tricks” he quickly dissolves into an obsession with firstly proving the idea of spriritualism and the after life wrong and then using it as a way to push himself up into a higher society.
The Spirit Engineer is written and read at a beak-kneck pace. It’s not the longest book because no word or page is wasted. I found it utterly gripping throughout, with every word serving its purpose. You won’t find yourself losing concetration with this one.
The reason I’ve docked it .5 of a mark is the ending felt a little rushed to me. You spend a vast amount of the book being a sceptic, wondering whether this is going to be a supernatural book or not. When at the end, the truth is revealed, it’s done so very quickly and honestly left me feeling a taf underwhelemed. However, this is based on a true story and so there was likely only so much artistic license that West could take with this.
The Spirit Engineer characters – 4/5
The Spirit Engineer is focused nearly solely on William – a man who starts off the book struggling for money but with a high leve of intellignece. Once the more elite class start to realise his intelligence, he’s offered positions and ealth he never thought he’d obtain.
The seances he gets involved in begin to make him vast amounts of money and unfortunately this begins to change his attitude and personality slightly too. He goes from a caring but firm man into one whose focus in life clouds and overshadows many of his choices and actions – resulting in quite a dark day for him.
As for the other characters we encounter – they feel much more like support chaacters. Cathleen, the one who leads the seances and the one from whom he uses for his wealth is a quiet and fairly unassuming woman. His wife is a strong character who isn’t afraid to offer her opinion. In a time when women were still very much second-fiddle to men, I had a lot of time for the way she wasn’t afraid to stand up to her husband when needed.
The Spirit Engineer final rating – 4.25
The Spirit Engineer is a phenomenal debut by A.J. West. It is creepy, eery and holds you by the collar throughout the whole book. You spend so much time trying to work out where everything is going and what is going to happen, you forget how much fun you’re having reading about all of it. The fact this is also based on a true story is fascinating – I can definitely see this being a Netflix series at some point. If you’re into supernatural books and historical fiction, you’ll do well to find a book better than this from my experience.