Title: The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Author: Stuart Turton
Genre: Mystery, Fantasy
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: February 8, 2018
Format Read: Ebook
Standalone or series: standalone
Where I got the book: Amazon Kindle
Date finished reading: January 14, 2020
Goodreads Description: “Gosford Park” meets “Groundhog Day” by way of Agatha Christie – the most inventive story you’ll read this year.
Tonight, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed… again.
It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.
But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.
The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath…
My Review: Note: This review may include some spoilers! This book was picked by a member of my book club for our group to read. It had been on my TBR for more than a year, so I was excited to finally pick it up.
7 ½ Deaths has a strong beginning. The reader is immediately thrown into an intense situation. A few members of my book club were disappointed that it started with the main character having amnesia, as the concept of an unreliable narrator seems to be overdone lately. However, what I found interesting about the main character having amnesia was that he didn’t just seem to not know the people or scene around him, but he didn’t even recognize his own body. That made me think that maybe it was not his own body. And that my friends was the first of a few twists and turns in this book. The main character is forced to relive the same day 8 times in 8 different bodies to solve the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle.
This book definitely had an Agatha Christie feel (house full of suspicious characters where a murder takes place) mixed with a bit of the fantastical like in the Netflix series Black Mirror. If you read any interviews or bios about the author, he is a huge video gamer, and this book felt very much like video game, where you have 8 lives to complete the mission.
I desperately wanted the answers to all my many questions like: Why was the main character, Aidan, being forced to solve this mystery? Who is Aidan, since he is not any of the bodies that he inhabits? Who does murder Evelyn Hardcastle? Is she murdered? With this need to have my questions answered, I read through to the very end, but I cannot say that I enjoyed the trip. There were so many characters (most of them not very redeemable characters) and the time hopping got a bit frustrating at times. One book club member dislikes time travel in books due to causality issues. I feel that there were a few of those issues in this book. About halfway through the book I really stopped caring about what was happening. I just wanted to get to the end. Even Aidan, in one of the end scenes, states, “Everything is a clutter – too many days, too many conversations.” He is not wrong.
By the time I got to the end, I was not quite sure how I wanted the mystery to play out or if I even cared. There were some twists at the end that I did not see coming, but that did not make up for the effort it took to get there. This book while incredibly unique is very involved and was just felt very meh to me.
Those who have read this, how did you feel about this book? How did you feel about the ending – particularly about Anna and Aidan leaving the past in the past and deciding to have a future together?
My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦
I enjoyed the book quite a bit. It WAS hard to follow at times with the different perspectives and left me with questions I would have liked to have had answered, but I feel that last point is more common in current literature as it seems books are left more open ended quite a bit. I had a harder time feeling connected to the characters since there wasn’t much in the way of a back story and this is something I did actually miss. Though overall, I felt the book was good just for it’s unique style. I will say it has definitely stuck with me as a very memorable read and the style is totally why.
Great insights! Thank you for sharing!