Books & Reviews

‘The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle,’ by Stuart Turton: Book Review

I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Star Rating: ★★★★★

seven-and-a-half-deaths-of-evelyn-hardcastleAiden Bishop wakes up in someone else’s body in the middle of the forest, with no idea where, or in fact who, he is. What he does know is that Anna is in trouble and he has to help her.

Managing to find his way to Blackheath, a run down mansion, Aiden discovers that there is going to be  murder that night, a murder that won’t look like a murder, so the culprit will get away with it.

He is going to get 8 chances to solve this murder, reliving the day in 8 different bodies. If he succeeds he is freed from Blackheath and will regain his memories and body. But if he fails, he is doomed to go back to the beginning and start the 8 days over again, and again, and again.

But he’s not the only one trying to break free from Blackheath. There are two others there with him, and only one of them will be allowed to escape. So Aiden must try to solve the murders before they do, while also avoiding the violent footman who is trying to kill him, one host at a time.

This book. Oh my god, this book.  I’m not entirely sure how to put into words how much I enjoyed this book.

As we all know I love a good whodunnit. But there’s so many of them around nowadays that it can be hard to get too excited about them. It can all get a bit samey. But let me tell you, you can get excited about this one.

The premise of The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is unique to this genre, while also fitting in quite easily. The best way I can think to describe it is a mash-up of Poirot and Cluedo with the gothic horror of Sleepy Hollow, all held together with the help of Groundhog Day. Now if that doesn’t intrigue you then I don’t know what will.

I love a book set in the 1920s. The glamorous atmosphere and over the top characters are fascinating to me. And the characters in this book don’t disappoint. They range from socialites to doctors, to maids, and stable boys and each of them has a unique voice, even if some of them are being inhabited by the same person. Each character that Aiden wakes up in still have their own personalities fighting through, so it’s interesting to see how they each react.

If I had to pick something bad about this book (and I’m only doing it for the sake of being a well-rounded reviewer) it’s that it does take a lot of effort to get through it. There are a lot of characters to keep up with, and you have to pay attention to every single thing that happens. Every step the characters take, every word they say, it’s all important. So don’t start reading until you’re ready for that kind of commitment.

In saying that, it’s worth every single second of that effort you have to put in. Seeing how everything intertwines together, how one thing affects another so seamlessly, is amazing. I can only imagine the copious amount of notes and planning Turton must have had when he was writing. He is obviously a fantastic writer because he’s able to write an extremely complex plot without making it so confusing that you get frustrated. At no point did I want to stop reading.

The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is such an original premise for a murder-mystery, but doesn’t go so far as to give up any of the good things about the genre. You still get a good plot, clues dropped throughout, and a satisfying ending. There’s nothing about this book that would make me say don’t read it. So go read it!

Side note: The copy I received from Netgalley is called The Seven and A Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, which I think is the American title. It’s just called The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle over this side of the water.

 

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