Thank you to @instabooktours for inviting me to take part in the Blogtour.
Belfast, 1914. Two years after the sinking of the Titanic, high society has become obsessed with spiritualism, attempting to reach their departed loved ones through seances.
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 William Jackson Crawford and famed medium Kathleen Goligher, and with a cast of characters that includes Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini, West conjures a haunting tale that will keep readers guessing until the end.
Do you like a good creepy story especially around this time of year? When the pumpkins have been cut with their creepy smiles and lit up with candles, and children are going trick or treating. Nights are getting colder and drawing in. It’s the perfect time to curl up with a hot chocolate and a chilling read. This book ticks all the boxes you want, and more.
Based in some truth on the life of William Jackson Crawford, the opening chapter starts in July 1920. As William sits looking out to sea, watching the waves whelm and roll, remembering the words: death is a beginning. We then jump back to 1914 Belfast, an area that is still getting over the sinking of the Titanic two years earlier. Seances are becoming popular as people believe they can contact ant talk to their lost loved ones. Are these just a con playing on peoples losses and vulnerabilities? William Crawford is a man of science, he doesn’t believe in such things. It’s nothing more than sorcery and sleight of hand. He is a gentleman married to Elizabeth, they have three children, two daughters and a son Robert, despite William having a good job teaching, they still rely on Aunt Adelia as a benefactor. Without her help they would struggle even more than they already do. Finances are very tight, the house is constantly needing repairs, the children clothes. Even the food isn’t the best.
William is the narrator throughout the whole story, at times you wonder how reliable he is. I liked him, he is a down to earth academic scientist, absentminded, forever losing his pipe or his glasses or other such items, the children or his wife normally telling him where they are. As the story begins the housemaid, Hazel, has as far as William is aware just upped and left, giving no reason as to why. This means Elizabeth is having to look after the children, keep house and cook the meals which she doesn’t seem to manage very well.
William aspires to make a name for himself within his field of science, he is writing a book which he hopes will be a success, as well as dreams of a big promotion at his place of work The Municipal Technical Institute. He dreams of success, but never would he believe the turns his life would take. When he finds a letter written by their previous housemaid William wonders what his wife has been keeping from him, the letter could be interpreted in different ways. He then finds out that Elizabeth has been deceiving him along with Aunt Adelia, he had believed they were going to church until someone enquires as to why they haven’t seen her for a while. Where has she been going? William is determined to find out, when he does it leads the reader on to the bigger part of the story.
William becomes obsessed with proving that seances are nothing but tricks played out by nothing but con merchants taking money from people who have lost loved ones. Elizabeth’s brother Arthur had been on the Titanic and had perished at sea, Elizabeth is desperate to communicate with him. But William gets drawn into things more and more by the young Kathleen Goligher and her family. Along with a wager from other characters to prove one way or the other that it is not possible to talk to the dead. William takes on the challenge after all the money will certainly come in handy. But things don’t go quite as you would expect. With characters such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Houdini. The reader is drawn in and swept along with the story.
Where did the new housemaid Rose, who is mute come from? With many twists and turns that you really don’t expect this is a brilliantly written story. It will make you laugh with some great one liner’s, you will cry, you will find yourself looking around at creaks or noises around you, the hairs on your neck standing on end.
This is A.J.West’s debut novel and after this I will read whatever he writes next. The whole story is engaging, at times tragic even more so as some is based on true life. I give this a well earned ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ out of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ if I could give it more I would. A truly good debut novel.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
A.j.West was born in Buckinghamshire and not very comprehensively educated at a comprehensive school in Newport Parnell. Growing up, his teacher parents read him stories by Blyton, Milne, Dahl, Lewis, Lawrence and Graham and he found a passion for old-fashioned tales that mixed fear and fun. He went on to study English Literature at university in Preston, Lancashire before graduating to become a radio and television producer, news presenter and journalist at the BBC in London and Northern Ireland, where his fascination with William Jackson Crawford’s story began. After a characteristically strange twist in events he became a television personality before embarking on a new career as a PR and communications director. During this time, he has written for national newspapers and appeared on network current affairs programmes on radio and television.