The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 09 Oct 2018

Member Reviews

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle opens with the narrator waking up in the forest, covered in blood, in a different body and no idea what is going on. He makes it front door of a large country house and from there he discovers that's he's Aiden Bishop and that he has 8 chances to stop the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle. Each day he will wake in a different host body and have the chance to relive the day and hopefully stop the murder. He has some advantages (he remembers his memories from the previous days and which host he is so he can set up and change scenarios) and disadvantages (He's hindered by his hosts' physical attributes, like being overweight or old as well as the hosts' personalities like their temper or impulsivity). Plus there's other obstacles in his way to further complicate things. Can he solve the puzzle on time? And what will happen if he doesn't?

I loved this book! It sucked me right in. It's like Gosford Park and Agatha Christie meets Inception and Groundhog Day. A murder mystery with a twist. It was really atmospheric and descriptive, I loved finding out who the new hosts were and was constantly guessing what was going on and how things would work out. Of course I wasn't anywhere close to getting it right! Complex and thrilling, I'll definitely reach for it again in the future.
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This was such an enthralling and addictive book! It's hard to believe that such a complex and captivating book is a debut. The plot is so intricate and the characters so very real, I found it incredibly hard to put down.

This is without a doubt one of my favourite books of 2018. Definitely one that lives up to the hype and I can't wait to see what Stu Turton does next!
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Brilliant book, just the right level of suspense. I have chosen this to be a featured title in our Christmas catalogue and intend to sell very many copies. 
The end was even more satisfying than I expected it to be - questions which I had assumed would go unanswered, like how this strange world is at all connected to our real one, were all resolved. I didn't expect a truly happy ending. This was very satisfying and I look forward to a next title from the author.
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‘The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle’ by Stuart Turton is a whodunnit version of ‘Groundhog Day’ set at a country house party. There is a twist: the Bill Murray character must live each day in a different body, a host, and solve a murder or never escape back to his normal life. I found this to be a tortuous, convoluted and mystifying plot, impossible to review without giving away clues (intentionally or not), but I will have a go.
If you like conventional detective stories which follow the rules of crime fiction, presenting a challenge to be solved, this may not be for you. If you like going on a mystery journey where nothing is as it seems, you will like it. Mysteries work when the reader has something to cling onto, to make them identify with a character, to make them care, to give them someone to root for. This story has so many unknowns I spent most of the story in a state of confusion. Like Coco Chanel dressing for the evening and then removing two elements to ensure she wasn’t over-dressed, I finished this book wishing the author had undertaken a similar cutting exercise. The solution to the murder, and the fate of the protagonist were not the elements I found most fascinating; I enjoyed the challenge faced by Aiden – if that is his true name – when he inhabits the body of a host, a stranger. The obese body but sharp mind of Lord Ravencourt; the over-excited Jonathan Derby who acts without thinking and molests the chambermaids; the beaten-up butler who knows a lot but lays in bed drifting in and out of consciousness.
The list of characters is so long – with too many similar names, Millicent/Madeline, Daniel/Donald – plus others who are simply unnamed background extras, I couldn’t remember which each one was. This is complicated by the fact that the hero – whose name might be Aiden Bishop – doesn’t know who is who either. He doesn’t know who can he trust, who has he already met at Blackheath House, and who he knew before arriving at the party – as he also has amnesia about his real identity and previous life. Two/three other people are also experiencing this mobile bodied state, and Aiden is competing with them to solve the crime. Because only one, he is told by the mysterious fancy dress Plague Doctor, will survive. Oh and there’s a mysterious footman too who may or may not be trying to kill Aiden. Oddly, none of the other time-trapped people appear in Aiden’s body.
By a quarter through I was seriously confused and becoming seriously irritated. Is this a story best read in one sitting, so you are better able to remember all the twists and obfuscations? But the book is not short, 528 pages. Or could it be that there is just too much going on? A closed room mystery, each day repeating itself, a hero with amnesia who must relive each day in a different host body and be influenced by the stranger’s body and personality, a murder that happens every night meaning the victim cannot be rescued, a competition to solve the murder in order to survive, obtuse threats from sinister unidentifiable figures, key characters introduced rather late in the game. There is no doubting the planning skills of the author but at times I did suspect he set out to wilfully confuse rather than tease the reader. I ran through various scenarios: is it a game show, is it a wind-up like ‘Candid Camera’, is Aiden the murderer and doesn’t know it, is Aiden the murderer and cleverly duping everyone?
Ambitious, overwhelming, fantastical, mysterious, I can’t help but admire the ambition of the author and the scope of his story. Hidden beneath the machinations are two serious questions: how far will a person go in order to escape an intolerable situation, and is it ever possible to escape your own past? A Marmite book: love it or hate it.
Read more of my book reviews at http://www.sandradanby.com/book-reviews-a-z/
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Firstly, thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC of this book and apologies for the delay in the review.  However, we have it as a Top Notch title with 20 copies and it’s going out like hotcakes!

This twisty and at times convoluted tale was both engrossing and utterly confusing.  Who did what now?  Who is speaking?  What day is it?  How many days are left?  

I understand the hype about it.  It’s a great twist on the whodunit and it does keep you reading.  The pacing though is let down a bit by overwriting.  It could have done with a good edit to cut it down and make it less murky in parts.  However, it is a book that makes you want more and keeps you guessing.  The characterisation was fascinating- what would it be like to suddenly be in another person’s body, with the residue of the deepest aspect of their personalities?  The ones that are really scrubbed in?  How strong is a single soul and their motivation in the wake of that?  

And, the murder mystery is great.  Perhaps it is the time period it’s set, but it does have the Agatha Christie feel to it.

I think my experience would have been better had I read a physical copy of it instead of an ebook, because being able to flip back to find out where we are and who said what would have been helpful.
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Consider my mind blown. Hands down one of the best mystery thrillers I’ve read, extremely well thought and executed. What a movie this would make. I’ll keep it there to avoid spoilers, but I very strongly recommend you give this one a go.
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Basically this is Grounhog Day meets Tales of the Unexpected meets classic country house mystery. And it is cleverly done but unfortunately it did not work for me...it is well written and the characters are well developed but it felt so chaotic, so forced. Of course, the fact that none of the characters were endearing is both an asset and a drawback.
No,sorry,it just didn't work for me...
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Fantastic fun, a novel of time travelling, body-hopping and murder with some extraordinary plot twists and great characters. A man wakes up not knowing where he is and without memories; he must wake up in seven more bodies to solve a murder and set himself free. This incredibly inventive novel kept me gripped throughout, and as soon as I thought I’d figured out where the plot was going, it took a different turn. It’s hard to believe this is a debut, such is the skill of Turton’s writing. Highly recommended as a unique new literary voice.
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If you are looking for a quick and easy whodunnit then don’t read this book. If, however, you enjoy intelligent and atmospheric stories with fascinating characters and a clever plot line then you should enjoy this, but be warned you will need to concentrate.

The book has been described in the acknowledgments as a time-travel, body-hopping, murder-mystery novel by Stuart Turton and I can’t think of a better description.

Blackheath House, a huge sprawling stately home in serious disrepair is hosting a Masquerade Ball on the 19th Anniversary of the murder of 7 year old Thomas Hardcastle and tonight at 11pm Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered too.

Aiden, a guest at the party, wakes in the body of another guest and has to solve the murder(s) in order to leave the party. Yes, it’s confusing at times, yes, you need to concentrate from page 1, yes, it’s quite a long book (500+pages) but I did enjoy it.

There’s a wonderful feel of historical fiction and the description of Blackheath House and the surrounding areas are so atmospheric it’s easy to visualise the story and the characters. Overall I enjoyed the book, but felt slightly exhausted after finishing it.
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If you fancy a crime novel with a twist (no not one you won't see coming, a genuine different take on the crime novel) then this is the book for you. It was utterly fascinating. A time loop novel with a crime at its heart. 

Because it is titled for Evelyn Hardcastle you would be forgiven for thinking we would be getting the story from Evelyn's point of view, but we don't. We get it from the person who is trying to solve her murder, but he's stuck in a time loop until he can solve it. And he's not alone in the loop. 

I loved this book and would definitely recommend it to crime fans and to time loop fans. It really was ingeniously plotted. To keep up with all the characters over the eight days, where they were, what they were doing and who they were doing it with, it must have been a book that had the author pulling his hair out at some parts. 

It reminded me a little of an Agatha Christie novel because the protagonist had to solve the murder with a set amount of characters within his world, his time loop. It really was the best of a lot of novels all mashed into one fabulous novel. Go read it now!
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Even months after I read it, I can't stop thinking about this book. The premise is so twisty and turny, my brain was working overtime to figure it out. I love a good puzzle, and this was the best kind. I can't wait for this book to come out so I can recommend it to everyone. In fact, I'm thinking about how I can write a puzzle this satisfying!
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I started this book with very high expectations, but couldn't get into it. I tried a few times but it never hooked. I admit it's not my usual genre, so I'm probably not the target audience. I will try again another day as it sounds exceptionally clever and interesting.
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This is an old fashioned who-dun-it style crime story but with a fantasy twist.  No year is mentioned but I feel it is set around 1900 – give or take a decade or two.  

Evelyn Hardcastle is murdered each evening for seven days.  Aiden Bishop has the task of solving the crime from the perspective of eight guests at the celebratory party at Blackheath before he can leave the house.  Each morning he wakes in the body of a different guest and re-lives the same day using the skills of the 'host' body to his advantage.  Some host bodies seem, at first, to be of little use in solving the murder but each has something, even if it's only being in the right place or hearing the right conversation, to find who did it.

This book is quite unique and requires a high level of concentration to remember what has already been learned and to keep up with new perspectives of repeated events.  It's very well written and the author must have an amazingly well organised mind to create such a faultless and intricate plot as this one.
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5★
“The hunt begins in half an hour and I can’t miss it. I have too many questions and most of the answers will be carrying shotguns.”

Who is this “I” with the questions? My dad told me he’d read about a man whose dementia got so bad that he got up one morning, looked in the bathroom mirror, and said “Who the hell are YOU?” The reason he told me was that he had dementia, but he was a long way from that point.

Our narrator is having trouble recognising himself. At one point he thinks:

“. . . this bland figure in the glass. Brown hair, brown eyes and no chin to speak of, I’m any face in a crowd; just the Lord’s way of filling in the gaps.”

Without giving the plot away, I’m going to attempt the impossible – talking about something similar, using animals. But, I will add some quotations from the real story to give you an idea of the writing.

Let’s say you are a farm animal, a chicken perhaps, and you wake one morning to discover you are a mouse. You are horrified, so you hide under the straw and you overhear a conversation between two men. (Ok, I’m getting a bit “Charlotte’s Web” here.) 

A man is lamenting that he’s going to have to take desperate measures to win over someone’s wife, and shortly after, you hear a gunshot

The cat races past you, tearing out of the barn for the house. You’re too frightened to investigate, so you curl up under the straw and fall asleep.

You wake to the smell of scraps of bacon by your nose which the cook has dropped, saying “Here you go, Rover. A little something to warm you up before the hunt.”

Rover? A dog? You’re a dog. What’s this about a hunt? But you wag your tail at the cook, Mrs. Drudge.

“A wide-hipped, ruddy-faced elderly woman is standing by the oven bellowing instructions, her pinafore covered in flour. No general ever wore a chestful of medals with such conviction.”

The cat wanders by, and your earlier mouse heart leaps to your throat before you growl and scare it off. 

The cook leaves the kitchen, and you listen to two young fellows muttering about a stranger they saw in the stables. Why is he invited to this exclusive house party? One thinks he is rich and knows their host is in money trouble because he heard him talking with his wife.

“‘. . . we’ll end up poor and I’m fairly certain we’ll be dreadful at it.’
‘Most people are,’ . . . 
‘Well, at least they’ve had practice,’ he says.”

The second fellow saw the stranger talking to the wife in the garden. (Aha, the plot thickens. But what about that gunshot?)

What about it? You’re a dog, lying by a fire, so you do what dogs do and doze off.

You wake with a woman tickling your ears, saying “Good morning, Mittens!” She’s asking the maid to draw her a bath and get out her most flattering outfit, because she needs to impress a new guest if they are to save the estate from ruin. You think:

“I suddenly have the sense of taking part in a play in which everybody knows their lines but me.”

Then the maid shrieks. “There’s a mouse in the corner! Mittens!!!”

You (Mittens) recognise your former self, miss your pounce, and let the surprised mouse escape. Remember, the mouse and the dog don’t know they will become Mittens. In each body (host), you know your past, but not your future. You wander off, but

“. . . rooms I pass through are musty, thick with mildew and decay. Pellets of rat poison have been piled up in the corners, dust covering any surface too high for a maid’s short arm to reach.”

Might as well curl up in a sunny spot and doze off. (This is becoming a habit. )

“The hunt!” Get up, Rover! We’re off.” People shout, clattering shotguns and rattling boxes of ammunition.

Rover? What? Again? And guns? You join the hunt, get shot and killed (by mistake, of course) and wake up in the barn again as the mouse. Now you're curious about the conversations and follow a trail of blood from the tack room into the woods.

Enough already. I’m getting ridiculous. And this book is about people, not animals – an Agatha Christie-like, closed-loop house party in a big old, crumbling manor house with an odd assortment of characters.

It’s something like Kate Atkinson's memorable Life After Life– but this is not variations on one life (like the movie based on the book Sliding Doors). This is one story from different points of view, although those points are all shared by one entity – the protagonist - battling poison, knives, guns and . . . oh, yes, there's both an unsolved murder and a foreshadowed one (Evelyn’s).

It’s terrific, and I apologise for my convoluted animal comparison. Just know that our narrator starts off not knowing his own name, where he is or why. 

Here I would like to add my thanks to the author’s:

“Special mention must go to my early readers David Bayon, Tim Danton and Nicole Kobie who read this story in its ‘David Lynch’ phase, and very kindly pointed out that clues, grammar and reminders of plot points aren’t a sign of weakness.”

You mean this began with fewer clues and plot points? Gasp!

There are some distinctive characters, which makes it easier to follow the story. 

“He’s a smear of a man with oiled hair and a pale, pinched face, his manner that of somebody who finds everything in the room beneath him.”

This fellow is a bit more appealing.

“Freckles are splashed across his nose, honey-coloured eyes and short blond hair suggesting a face spun out of sunlight.”

No vampires or werewolves, but they wouldn’t be out of place in this scary, dismal setting. Where to go?

“I suggest you use this time to hide yourself somewhere he won’t find you. Argentina, perhaps. Good luck to you.”

There were a few names similar enough to make me check the very handy cast of characters in the front. One thing I did wish the author had included was the charcoal tree drawing referred to near the end of the book to help us as well as the character.

I’d love to think it’s in the final printed version, or that some enterprising fan will create one. 

Many thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for the preview copy from which I’ve quoted. Thanks also to SOURCEBOOKS Landmark for the preview of The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle to be published in September 2018. Whatever the number of deaths, it is a unique mystery!
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Imagine having to live the same day over and over, although you are reliving the same day, you are always in someone else’s body, with their memories and personalities to contend with, or in some cases lacking their memories and personalities. This is the world we are thrown into. It is always interesting to start a story where the reader is as unaware of what is happening as the main character, who doesn’t know who they are or how and why they are running through some trees.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is one of those books where the less you know going in, the more you will enjoy the book. The basic story is that during a party held by Evelyn’s parents, Evelyn will die. It is up to the man, we meet in the trees to work out how and why Evelyn must die. The man must also do this while inhabiting some of the guests’ bodies. The guests themselves are an assortment of characters, some of them rogues, whereas some of them are downright villainous.

The man moving from host to host is probably the character we know least about, although this doesn’t detract from the story. In fact, this makes it more intriguing as the man is also trying to find out who they are as much as we are. The man is also having to deal with the personality of the body they are in, as well as having to avoid being killed when inhabiting them. If this happens the man is immediately booted into the next host and like a computer game, there are only a certain number of hosts (lives) they can inhabit. Each host has positives and negatives about them, some being more useful than others in helping to find out who wants to kill Evelyn.

This leads to a lot of trust and mistrust throughout the story. Whether the man can trust the other guests not to be working against him and if they are, why? There are times where allies are miscast as untrustworthy and you have to wonder whether these days the man is living will lead to a conclusion or not. Turton has weaved a story that although allows for repetitions, never gets stale and is always gripping. This is especially true when you like a particular host more than the previous or present one.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is really ambiguous, there are a lot of twists and turns and it really does make you think about the events that happen when the man inhabits each host. This is a really addictive book where you really want to get answers to the many questions given, as you find out more about each of the guests and their motivations. I also really enjoyed the ending, as it lets you wonder what will happen next and what is really outside the confines of the grounds.
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Thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for the ARC of this book.

This is going to be a very brief review because I really don’t want to spoil this book for anyone who might want to read it and pretty much anything I say about this book will be a spoiler.

I will just say that this is an incredibly complicated, intricately plotted and astonishingly detailed novel. I found it really difficult to get into because it throws you right into the action with an amnesiac unreliable narrator and it takes a while to get to grips with what is going on; but I’m glad I persisted because it is a thoroughly rewarding and unique read. I was not entirely satisfied with the ending but the journey was very interesting. 

I think the title is a bit misleading, I was expecting the book to be about a woman called Evelyn; however, she’s a fairly secondary character. Instead, it is told from a very buttoned-up traditional male perspective, which I found a bit off-putting to start off with. 

I’d definitely recommend this book to fans of golden age crime looking for thoroughly modern and mind-bending interpretation of the traditional 1920s crime novel.
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Stuart Turton’s debut mystery is brilliantly original and totally mind-boggling, like Groundhog Day by way of Agatha Christie, with shades of Jonathan Creek. It’s utterly unique and an absolute delight to read – and it’s guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat as you try to unlock the secrets of Blackheath.
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Now this is an interesting concept - billed as being of a similar genre to an Agatha Christie novel or of the film Gosford Park  I was instantly hooked and wanted to read The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle but actually this is only similar in that it is set in the 1920s and involves a murder. It is more of a sci-fi thriller set in the past and nothing that Agatha Christie would have dreamt up!


What I hadn't realised until I started the book is that the victim, Evelyn Hardcastle, is going to be murdered in exactly the same way until Aiden (our narrator) discovers 'whodunnit' and why.  The major twist in the tale is that he isn't solving the murder as himself because he is going to wake up each day in the body of 8 different guest at Blackheath and see the murder from each of their perspectives!

Confused?!  You may well be, I certainly was for the first couple of chapters until I got the hang of how the story was going to pan out.  Aiden has been tasked with finding the murderer and for him it is groundhog day until he does so.  He also have a million unanswered questions, not least who is Anna the girl he has seen chased through the Blackheath woods at the start of the novel and her murder that he is sure has been committed.

Alongside this is the no small matter of the death of Evelyn's brother Thomas in the lake when he was just a child, and for which Evelyn was unequivocally blamed and of the psychopathic footman who will stop at nothing to prevent Aiden from solving the mystery.

This is a book to concentrate when reading, go with the flow, suspend your disbelief and let Stuart Turton take you into a murder mystery unlike any other.
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I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  This review is spoiler-free.

 

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is the debut novel by Stuart Turton.  I had been seeing fabulous reviews for this book all across social media, and was lucky enough to snag a copy via NetGalley.  I had heard it pitched as ‘Groundhogs Day’ meets ‘Gosford Park’ and I was immediately sold. Not knowing much else about the book, I dove straight in.

How can you possibly review a book like The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle?  This is one of the weirdest and most original books I’ve read in a long time, and it’s so hard to talk about without spoilers.  It’s incredibly atmospheric, a bit spooky, and incredibly entertaining. The reader is dropped straight into this bizarre situation alongside the narrator, who has woken up in a forest screaming the name ‘Anna’ with no recollection of why or how he got there.  The twisting, turning narrative develops from there.

I absolutely loved the complex and complicated world that Turton created for this book — it takes place within a single house but feels so expansive.  I cannot imagine the amount of planning and outlining went into plotting this book. There are so many opportunities for him to slip up within the complex events and actions, but I really don’t think he does once.  Each character in the huge cast is well developed and compelling. The book is tightly plotted, well edited, and wholly captivating. The only thing I wasn’t sold on was the reason that this was all happening and how the book ultimately resolves.  That doesn’t detract from the mystery and the unravelling of the crime, but it did make this a four star read instead of a five star one.

It feels like it’s such a cop-out, but I really don’t want to say anything more — apologies for such a vague review!  I went into this book completely unaware — I really just skimmed the summary before I requested it — and I think that’s the best way to read it.  Go in unaware, read it, and love it. You’ll be sucked in immediately and the book won’t let go until well after you read the last pages. I highly recommend this for fans of period fiction, Agatha Christie, or anyone who just wants a thumping good read.
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Creepy but good. Really, really good. Interested to see what the author writes next! Thanks to the publisher for the review copy!
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