Book Review · Crime Fiction

REVIEW: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton


Synopsis:

Aiden Bishop wakes up in somebody else’s body, with Anna’s name on his lips. He has no clue who he is or what he’s doing in the middle of a forest. After recovering from a daze, he hears a woman screaming and catches a glimpse of her running away from a man. Soon after, he is given the directions to Blackheath Manor where he soon realises that he’s living the same day over and over again – Evelyn Hardcastle’s last day – except every time he wakes up to start again, he’s in someone else’s body. Much to Aiden’s dismay, there’s only one way to escape this nightmare: figure out who killed Evelyn Hardcastle.

Review:

I am a sucker for Agatha Christie, whodunnits and locked room murder mysteries so when someone mentioned this novel to me, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it!

This was an amazing debut novel for Turton and I honestly think it’s so underrated. Not only is Turton an extremely talented writer who transports you to the novel’s location through nicely placed personifications of the story’s environment, he’s managed to write one of the most complex story lines I’ve ever read. When I tell you this novel is confusing, I mean it with my mind, body, and soul. But more on that later! Personally, I really enjoyed Turton’s writing style – the 1930’s aesthetic was a clear homage to Agatha Christie and it lends itself nicely to a whodunnit.

The plot was so masterfully crafter and I honestly still don’t understand how Turton did it.. There’s 8 bodies in which Aiden (our protagonist) resides in throughout the novel, who live the same day. 8. Yes, 8. Imagine trying to story board that, because I definitely can’t! And it’s not only the 8 “hosts” that are pivotal to the story, you’ve got about 4 other main characters and a dozen secondary characters that have significance. You’re not only thinking about how one person moves through time loops akin to Russian dolls, you’re thinking about how 8 characters interact with everyone else at the right time. Is it feasible for person A to be in the drawing room having a conversation with person B at 10am, and then make it to the kitchen in time to place a clue on the counter at 10:15am, whilst bumping into person C on the way to exchange information?

This is where I fell into issues with this novel. At first, I put it down to the fact that I was reading this for only an hour a day which makes it hard to get into but the more I think about this book, the more I realise it’s 100% just a confusing book. Which seems so strange to me because nothing about the plot is confusing. I understand the Groundhog Day aspect to it, I understand who killed Evelyn and the motivations behind it, (spoiler alert) I understand the prison aspect of the plot, (spoiler finished) so I couldn’t really understand what I was so confused about. And then it hit me… there were too many filler characters in this novel. It felt like Turton wanted to make the path towards the end incredibly convoluted on purpose and his solution was to write in as many characters as he thought he could get away with which meant we ended up with characters that lacked depth and almost became caricatures. 8 hosts was just unnecessary in my opinion!

Overall I enjoyed this book and I really do think I would’ve enjoyed it more if I read it on my holiday so I could really get into it. It’s definitely a book I’d like to read again as there were clues throughout the novel that I’m sure I missed. A good debut whodunnit for a very talented writer.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Hardcastle
Publication Date – 08/02/2018
Paperback pages: 528
Rating – 4/5

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