Hello! I am back! I warned you, ahead of time, that reviews would be pretty scarce for a while. So this is your first one with me back! And I hope that you all are having a lovely day.
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers ahead.
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
Synopsis From The Book
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.
For fans of Claire North and Kate Atkinson, The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a breathlessly addictive novel that follows one man’s race against time to find a killer―but an astonishing time-turning twist means that nothing and no one are quite what they seem
Mystery | A – E |Murder, Suicide, Manipulation, Talk of Terrorism | Memory, Identity, Change of Self
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
So I always thought this book had an interesting premise. What threw me into it was the other day. I was sitting at work, with the book out (I was not able to read it that day) and a customer came in. She was like “oh. I loved that book.” And I was like. SOLD. DONE. Because it is one thing to look at a book someone is reading/going to read and thinking you loved it, and saying you loved it. I also knew it was on a lot of lists too, so that’s saying something.
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
WHAAAAAT. I was just–
Yes. I loved this book, thoroughly. I did not see the mystery ending the way that it did. Also how the concept works, makes me want to know so much more about the world. Goodness. I’m going to try to keep the Likes and Changes Spoiler free, if you want to go ahead and skip the plot, because I do reveal the mystery.
The book begins with a list of all the invited people to the party that is being hosted at the Blackheath estate. Sebastian Bell awakes in the forest with a name on his lips “Anna.” He starts screaming and hears a woman shot in the forest. The murderer gives him a compass and he ends up at the Blackheath estate. He tries to tell them that Anna died, and no one believes it.
Sebastian tries to find Anna, and sees a man beaten, and multiple other things. Over the course of events, he tries to figure out what happens, and finds out that Anna did not die. It was a misunderstanding. He is given a note by Anna and tries to find her with Evelyn. He passes out when he is given a dead rabbit.
He wakes up the next morning in the body of another, the butler who was beaten the day before. And then is beaten bloody. He then wakes up in the body of a young man, and learns he is stuck in a loop to solve a murder. He tries to escape and passes out in the forest hours away. He wakes up in the body of an older man and begins to learn more.
His name is Aiden Bishop. Evelyn Hardcastle dies at 11:00pm that night, and he needs to figure out who killed her and give the game master (who he calls Plague Doctor, for the mask the man wears) the name of the killer and motive. Knowing he has future lives, Aiden starts to collect details in each one of his lives.
He meets Anna, who is his ally and also living each day trying to figure it out. She only has one body. There is the footman who is trying to kill Aiden. There is Daniel, who is Aiden in his last body of his set of eight, who is trying to figure out what is going on from his end so they can be freed.
One by one secrets are revealed. Aiden discovers that the death of Thomas, son of the Hardcastles, died when he was 7 from odd conditions. He learns that Cunningham, the valet of one of his bodies, is the son of the Hardcastle’s wife, a son to their gardener. Evelyn Hardcastle kills herself because she is blackmailed with the life of someone she loves. As Aiden continues his investigation, he is sent back to the other bodies he left that had not fallen asleep after 12am. He is killed multiple times by the footman and learns that Daniel is not one of his bodies, in fact the man is a liar who is probably another competitor.
Aiden continues through his lives, coming to the body of a detective, which is how he figures out that Michael killed Evelyn, after convincing her to fake her own suicide. He stoped Michael, but they are both poisoned. He learns there is another plot afoot. With his third life back, he gets more clues and stops Daniel. Then he dies and uses his last life to set things right. He gives the answer, but refuses to leave Anna, who is apparently a mass murderer in the real world. Blackheath is a prison to rehabilitate. He believes that Anna the murderer is dead.
Anna and Aiden kill the footman and change the history of the loop, and then go to find the final killer. They find the real Evelyn who reveals that she killed her brother all those years ago after he saw her kill a lost stable boy. She killed her father and her mother, but accidentally killed her brother. Anna and Aiden confront her and Evelyn’s body double comes in and kills Evelyn. Anna gives the answer and she and Aiden are released to a new life that they will have to live.
With memories they will not remember.
What I Liked:
Aiden; While I don’t know his true OG personality, I was able to get a sneak peak at it throughout all the different lives. He is very interesting. I’m interested to see how he reacts to Anna when he gets out.
Anna; Her backstory is fascinating for someone who was so evil. I really hope her memories don’t spur her back into the past version of herself again.
The Mystery; Who killed Evelyn Hardcastle, when it is a suicide? What a fascinating mystery. Additionally the way that the mystery is revealed through Aiden, was brilliant. I will say, that who actually killed Evelyn Hardcastle, I did not see coming.
The Plotting and Time Line; This book starts out linear and then it quickly shifts into a non linear path. Aiden is hoping through bodies, living out their day each day in a specific way, however the others in the world are living only one day at a time in a linear fashion. So, this means that Aiden meets them at different points of their day, and when he hops back into bodies (from day four of his journey to day two or what have you) he meets them at different times. In some ways it makes the line up of events a little muddled, but in general you don’t notice it like Aiden doesn’t. I really like non linear story telling, and this one is, in a way for Aiden, but also is not.
The Concept (Out world); SPOILERS. So the whole idea of the mystery being a rehabilitation facility for criminals seems very unethical, and something that humans would do. I am stunned and amazed by it. It does drive someone to insanity, but does reform them as well. I thought this was an interesting concept, and also explains how the loop works.
Anna and Aiden; SPOILERS. Now I’m not entirely sure, but their relationship is interesting. Also, I wonder how much of them is truly left. For (As you see the quote on being lost below), Aiden lets the literal devil, the woman he hated get out of the prison with him. So how much of the original him is left. And is that a problem? Interesting morality questions that I think this book touches on and I’m not sure I can properly articulate.
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
“How lost do you have to be to let the devil lead you home?” – pg 5
‘Anger’s solid; it has weight. You can beat your fists against it. Pity’s a fog to become lost within.’ – pg 12