The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
Maturity Level: 4
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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…
Ohmygoshyouguys! This book was SOOOOO GOOOOOOD! It’s such a unique premise, it was executed so masterfully, and I could not get enough of it! I feel like I’m yelling at you, but I can’t help it!
If you’ve ever been to one of those mystery dinners where you’re given a character to play, and then you have to go around the house trying to figure out who the murder is before anyone else does, than you’ve got the basic premise of this book down. The main character wakes up having no memory of who he is, in the body of a person he’s pretty sure isn’t his own, and then is told by a mysterious figure in a Plague Doctor costume that he’s got to solve a murder if he ever wants to escape. The twist is, the next day he will wake up in a different body to re-live the day again. He’s got eight days to figure it out.
This was one of the coolest reading experiences I’ve ever had. It was an absolute delight to be presented with two unsolvable mysteries at once: who killed Evelyn Hardcastle, and who is Aiden Bishop? It had a very Dr. Who/River Song-esque timey-wimey plot line, with characters meeting each other out of order and not knowing who/what the other knew. I eat that up, man! And Blackheath is so atmospheric!
There was a nice blend of slow reveal with can’t-put-it-down suspense. I never felt hurried or rushed. Often when I read suspenseful novels I find myself glossing over long paragraphs in my excitement, but with this book I wanted to bask in the glory of each beautiful sentence. But I literally could. not. put. it. down. GAH! It was go good!
I also liked the blend of Aiden’s character development mashed with the personalities of his hosts. The bodies he inhabits have residue of the personalities, feelings, and memories of the men they were. Sometimes this helps Aiden solve the mystery, but at other times it is difficult or uncomfortable for both him and the reader. The men he inhabits are as big a variety as you could want, which was nice. I was a little disappointed by how involved the female characters were. They seemed to have little agency in the plot, rather allowing the men around them to make their decisions for them.
As a mystery I was able to play along, but it constantly kept me guessing. Each day revealed new evidence that what I’d thought the day before was wrong. However, I was slightly frustrated that, in typical detective fashion, in the last few chapters Aiden didn’t include key evidence in his narration. It kept me as a reader from having any hope at predicting the revelations made in the final chapters. But those revelations! Pay off was huge at the end of this novel, and was very rewarding.
My one criticism is that the Plague Doctor kept calling Aiden a good man throughout the novel. But how good a man can he be if he decided to enter Blackheath for revenge, to kill and torture someone? That really bugged me.
I loved loved loved this book! (obviously.) I would highly recommend it to mystery fans, and non-mystery fans, to be honest! It was fresh, unique, and had some really interesting things to say about the nature of man. Go read it! You won’t be disappointed.