Book Review: The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

7-1-2-deaths-of-evelyn-hardcastleTitle: The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle 
Author: Stuart Turton
Genre: Mystery, Fantasy
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: February 8, 2018
Pages: 432
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: ♦ ♦ ♦ 

Books vs. E-Readers

Today everything seems to be virtual. There is no need to call friends and family on the phone when you can send them an email or use some form of social media to keep in touch. Photographs are all digital now. It only makes sense that books would start to take an electronic form as well. Is it too soon for this though: Bookless Public Library?

I am not going to deny that I myself own a Kindle and use it. I travel and read a lot. Ten years ago when I would go on vacation, half my luggage would be books. Now I may take one physical book and my Kindle. E-readers can supply you with multiple books and allow you to travel light. Plus, having just moved oversees and not able to take too many books with me, the E-reader ensures that I never run out of things to read.

However, while I enjoy my Kindle and having another reading option, I prefer physical books. It is hard to explain how much I enjoy browsing bookstores and libraries, looking at all the different books that I could read, and pulling them off the shelves to explore their back covers. Plus, after working on a computer for eight hours a day, the last thing I want to do is come home and read a novel off of something similar to a computer screen.

Library

As mentioned in a previous post, I have moved quite a few times in my life. It is never easy to adjust to a new home. I’ve lived in some not so great places too. However, it never matters where I am, as soon as I unpack my first book and put it on a shelf or next to my bed, I feel home. In our last home, I loved all seven of our fully packed bookshelves. In our new place in Lucca, we have a parlor/library (pictured above) that I am very excited about.  We are already doing our best to fill the shelves with the books that we brought with us and the ones that we are finding here. It is my favorite place in the whole house.

Books and libraries = happiness. Let’s save them both!