Review: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton

35967101Verdict: Compulsively readable, challenging without being overwhelming, and intriquately plotted.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Date read: January 15th, 2018

Published by Raven Books (Bloomsbury Publishing), February 8th, 2018

Find it on Goodreads.

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 Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a highly original debut that will appeal to fans of Kate Atkinson and Agatha Christie.

Groundhog Day Meets Agatha Christie was all I needed to hear to be completely positively intrigued by this book. I had an absolute blast reading this and trying (and failing) to figure things out. Aiden Bishop wakes up in a body that is not his with no memory at all. He learns that he will wake up on this same day 8 times in 8 different hosts to solve a murder that will occur in the evening. We follow him chronologically (from his perspective), but everything is always happening at once. There are two others trying to solve the same murder and he will have to figure out who is on his side and who isn’t. This is such a staggeringly brilliant premise that is then executed stunningly.

Stuart Turton juggles many moving parts in a way that makes it relatively easy for the reader to follow along. He has all his moving pieces coming together beautifully and effortlessly and I think this is the biggest strength of this very strong book: this could have been a confusing mess but never was. The different versions of Aiden Bishop feel distinct enough to be complete characters while there is also a piece of him that is always recognizable. I adored the ruminations on identity and responsiblity, with a strong emphasis on action rather than personality.

Aiden Bishop has an incredible disdain for his hosts, who to be fair are mostly unpleasant, but I sometimes found his descriptions unnecessarily cruel, especially regarding one of his host’s overweight body. He went into detailed description of why this body was disgusting and this just did not sit well with me – especially when juxtaposed with his descriptions of another of his hosts (who is a rapist) who he also hates but not that viscerally. It makes sense from an in-book-perspective (his hosts’ personalities influence his reactions and the rapist sees nothing wrong with his behaviour) but still did not work for me. But this was a slight issue I had in the grand scheme of this highly enjoyable book.

I found this extremely clever, very well-written, and exceptionally well-plotted. I cannot wait to hold a finished copy in my hands to reread parts of this to find the hidden clues that I might have missed in my rush to finish this and to know. I cannot wait what Stuart Turton writes next.

I received an ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley and Bloomsbury Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

 

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22 thoughts on “Review: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton

  1. I appreciate your attention to how bodies are described in the book. These sorts of things always irk me. The book does sound like something I would enjoy as a Christie fan, though. Thanks for the great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s exactly what she pointed out that led me to start a quest to find fiction written by women that represents fat bodies in a positive way that doesn’t hinge happiness on losing weight or finding a date. It’s been a gruelling challenge so far.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s interesting to read a positive take on this book. I had major issues with Turton’s execution, one of which was, as you say, his apparent disdain for fat bodies while being not all that disgusted by a rapist. I read this in hard copy proof, so possibly if you read it on NetGalley they’ve fixed some things, but there were major technical issues (comma splices everywhere; the constant inaccurate use of “lay” instead of “lie”) and some structural ones too (Turton spends a disproportionate amount of time setting things up for the reader; we’re probably into Bishop’s second or third host before we’re really oriented, which feels like a waste of pages that could have been spent driving us towards the core of the story).

    And what really wrecked it for me was the ending, which is more than a little handwavey and doesn’t actually explain *how* Bishop has gotten there, just why. (Are they in a science fictional future? Is this some kind of actual alternate universe, and even if it is, how is the reincarnation/reawakening thing working? Is it all in his head? Are they giving him hallucinogenic drugs?) I do think it’s a book that people are going to be all over, for the obvious reasons—Groundhog Day! Inception! Agatha Christie! Cluedo! Gosford Park!—and it was fun, but man, this was not four stars for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting. I can see how others wouldn’t enjoy this, for sure. But I just had so much fun trying to figure everything out. Plus, I didn’t mind the beginning taking a while.
      As for the grammatical issues: my native language is German and we have commas everywhere, so I don’t seem to mind them in English all that much.
      I am with you on the ending. I figured some things out and was hoping for something else but still.. I had so much fun.

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      1. Ah! That’s so cool – I suppose approaching English from the perspective of another language would definitely change your perspective. A colleague of mine is half-French, half-German, and she says it does.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It definitely does change things a lot. Things that flow weirdly for native speakers sounds natural to me – and then when I start thinking about it I realize that the sentence structure is closer to German. For example: people complain about Sarah J. Maas’s usage of commas and semi-colons and ellipses and that just never occured to me while reading her books. I can see it when people point it out but it never hinders my enjoyment.

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