ARC Review: The Spirit Phone


The Spirit Phone by Arthur Shattuck O’Keefe

The Spirit Phone, looking (I hope) sufficiently spooky in the full moon image above, is the debut novel by Arthur Shattuck O’Keefe. In this alternate history / fantasy tale O’Keefe starts from the true story that Thomas Edison publicly stated his intent to build a device that would allow us to speak with the dead.

Though Edison never actually produced such a device, O’Keefe’s tale imagines that he not only did create a “spirit phone”, but that he also commercialized it. In doing so, he inadvertently opened the way for the imminent annihilation of mankind by dark spirits seeking a way into physical form.

Stepping into this alternate reality are two real world figures determined to stop this doomsday from happening. The English occultist, mountaineer and magician Aleister Crowley falls (literally) into the parlor of everyone’s favorite 20th century spurned inventor Nikola Tesla. Crowley convinces Tesla of the threat to mankind being unwittingly unleashed by Edison and, together with a pair of Federal super agents, set off to prevent humanity’s destruction.

This is a well written book with a lively tone. It put me in mind of those old madcap black and white movies you used to see late at night on television. The kind that feel like great adventures and hold your interest all the way to the end, even if some of the jokes are corny and the storyline doesn’t actually make much sense. 

The plot takes several twists and turns. This is a fantasy story and O’Keefe takes full advantage of that, throwing in not only the magick of the spirit phone, but an ahead-of-it's- time speedy lighter-than-air ship, cloning and time travel to move his plot along. 

Some of the plot twists seem a bit forced, though I admit that, for the most part, I did enjoy the ride. But when the time travel twist comes toward the end I felt like it might be one turn too many. Regardless, I loved the characters, the dialog, and the author’s sense of humor. 

If you are looking for an entertaining supernatural thriller with turn of the last century vibes I think you’ll enjoy this book.

RATING: Three and a half stars ⭐⭐⭐🌠

NOTE: I received an advanced copy courtesy of LibraryThing and BHC Press, and am voluntarily providing this review. The book is due out on November 15, 2022. BHC Press is running a contest to win an advanced copy for yourself, so if it sounds like this book may interest you, check that out. The contest ends October 20th.

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Title: The Spirit Phone

Author: Arthur Shattuck O’Keefe

Publisher: BHC Press

Publish Date: November 15, 2022

ISBN-13: 9781643973234

Publisher’s List Price: $16.95 Softcover (as of 10/2022)