The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, Stuart Turton
Publication Date: September 18, 2018
The Rules of Blackheath
Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m.
There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit.
We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer.
Understood? Then let’s begin…
Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others…
The most inventive debut of the year twists together a mystery of such unexpected creativity it will leave readers guessing until the very last page.
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is part “Groundhog Day,” part golden age murder mystery, and part Sci-Fi thriller all rolled into one. It’s an innovative and thoroughly entertaining read that had me flipping through the pages and scratching my head to figure who was responsible for Evelyn’s death. In addition to the eponymous murder, there are: poisonings, fistfights, romances, thefts, time-shifts, body-swapping, men dressed as plaque doctors, chase scenes, mistaken identities, a glamorous party, and a secluded country estate. I’ve certainly never read another book like it!
Turton has crafted a unique and labyrinthine mystery. There are countless twists and turns; clues come together only to then shift into something new, as if they were images in a kaleidoscope. Readers are left as confused and anxious as Aiden himself. We’re only ever given tiny fragments of the larger picture, but this buildup only makes the final denouement all the more satisfying.
Along with the mystery, the characters themselves are multi-layered and full of surprises. I found the large cast of characters to be surprisingly easy to keep track of. There was enough life breathed into each of them that they never seemed two-dimensional. Turton does an excellent job of maintaining Aiden’s voice alongside those of the individuals he inhabits over the course of the eight days. This is no small feat, especially considering our protagonist has no idea who he is, where he comes from, or often whose body he currently finds himself in.
I read this quickly, and think that is the best way to approach this novel. It’s not a book to mull over or take your time with, but one to race through with your heart in your throat. I could see how the premise might grow tired and seem too repetitive if you were to read this over a longer length of time. Much of the plot might not hold up to excessive scrutiny either. Instead, The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is made to be read as if the reader themselves is under a life or death deadline to solve the mystery. It’s a fun, adrenaline-filled dash to the final page.
If you can put aside the hype and suspend some of your disbelief, The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle has a lot to offer. There is enough murder, mayhem, and magic to keep you on the edge of your seat. Although not a perfect novel, its clever premise is backed up by strong writing and solid plotting. Stuart Turton has written a truly unique work that is cinematic in scope and an absolute thrill to read.
**A huge thank you to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for the opportunity to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review**