Title: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Author: Stuart Turton
Genre(s): Mystery, Thriller
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Buy This Book: Amazon/Audible (affiliate link)
How do you stop a murder that’s already happened?
At a gala party thrown by her parents, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed–again. She’s been murdered hundreds of times, and each day, Aiden Bishop is too late to save her. Doomed to repeat the same day over and over, Aiden’s only escape is to solve Evelyn Hardcastle’s murder and conquer the shadows of an enemy he struggles to even comprehend–but nothing and no one are quite what they seem.
Deeply atmospheric and ingeniously plotted, The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a highly original debut that will appeal to fans of Kate Atkinson and Agatha Christie.
This book is a strange blend of an Agatha Christy style murder mystery, the movie Groundhog’s Day, and the Netflix show Black Mirror. It is complex, even to the point of being somewhat confusing at times, but compelling. You will want to analyze the clues, figure out the riddles, and solve the murder. Unfortunately, I did not like the ending at all (no spoilers – I was just really hoping for something more), but I absolutely LOVED the journey to get there.
“How lost do you have to be to let the devil lead you home?”
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a very dark and atmospheric read, set in the 1920’s in a remote, isolated manor surrounded by acres of dense forest. It starts off with the narrator waking up in the middle of the woods, wearing a dinner jacket that isn’t his, and (as we later find out) trapped in a body that isn’t his. He has no memories and no idea who he is, just a name that was on the tip of his tongue when he woke up: “Anna”.
Eventually he is approached by a mysterious and very unsettling character wearing a plague doctor’s mask, who informs him that his real name is Aiden Bishop and that sometime later today there will be a murder, but it won’t look like a murder. Aiden has been bound to this day, destined to repeat it over and over again, unless he can discover the true identity of the murderer. But each morning, he’ll wake up in the body of a different “host” (one of the other guests at Blackhearth Manor) and each host comes with their own personality and physical traits – sometimes good, sometimes bad. By the end of the 8th day, if he still hasn’t identified the murderer, he’ll forget everything that he has learned and start all over again, just like he has already done possibly hundreds of times before.
“The future isn’t a warning my friend, it’s a promise, and it won’t be broken by us. That’s the nature of the trap we’re caught in.”
As if all of that wasn’t bad enough, Aiden soon learns there are other guests at the party that are just like him, trapped souls traveling between host bodies, but only one of them can escape. Whoever solves the murder first will be set free, while the others will stay behind, doomed to repeat the cycle forever. Even worse, while Aiden is distracted tracking down the killer, he is also being hunted himself by a dangerous and demented being called “the footman”, who is intent on cornering and killing him.
“If this isn’t hell, the devil is surely taking notes.”
This book is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. If I were rating just the first 300-400 pages, this would have been a glowing 5 star review! But the ending really ruined it for me and because of that, I’m (almost reluctantly) giving it only 4 out of 5 stars. I would still highly recommend reading this book and in fact, I’ve already told several of my own close friends and family members that they simply HAVE to read it when it comes out.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Thank you to Sourcebooks Landmark and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book for free in exchange for my honest review.
Stuart Turton is a freelance travel journalist who has previously worked in Shanghai and Dubai. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is his debut novel. He is the winner of the Brighton and Hove Short Story Prize and was longlisted for the BBC Radio 4 Opening Lines competition. He lives in London with his wife.