The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 24 Jul 2018

Member Reviews

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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Any book that mixes crime, history and fantasy elements is going to get read by me! This book was instantly intriguing and grabbed me right from the start. The book starts frantically with the main character unable to remember anything about themselves, all they know is that they heard a girl getting attacked and possibly murdered. They stumble upon a derelict but grand manor house and the occupants are not surprised to see them there. Not only do they seem to be aware of the girl's fate but they seem to be insinuating that the protagonist is somehow involved. I didn't want to put the book down!
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This was a review copy provided to me by Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest and fair review.

It is always a delight to chance upon a story in which you can loose yourself and, while lost within its pages, time simply drifts away from you.

This novel, the debut from Stuart Turton, is just such a read.

I have, on several recent occasions, been asked for suggestions of new books that provide great entertainment and are satisfying reads and this title has loomed large in my recomendations. The thing is, I find myself a little perturbed as to how best to describe it, such is the novel’s fresh, and possibly unique, style.

Taking place midway between the two world wars and set on a large, decaying country estate - with the requisite lord and lady, their domestic staff and assorted house guests, all gathered together for a party - this could initially be thought of as a tale similar to the classic crime stories of Agatha Christie and co.

However, this is no “locked room” style of crime in which one person must solve the case. Instead, the reader finds themselves thrust into a dark, chaotic and cruel, locked world in which our hero awakes, wet and with no recollection of even his name, in a cold and forbidding forest. He knows only that he witnessed an attack on a young woman out in the woods.

He eventually discovers his name, Aiden Bishop, and a masked man tells him that Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered that day and that Bishop must solve it. Our hero has eight opportunities to find the murderer as, with each new dawn that arrives, Bishop must relive the same day again. He will retain his memories of the day but will take on each new hosts personalities and traits as he investigates. He cannot escape from the country house until he has solved the mystery. If Evelyn’s death remains unsolved by day eight then time is reset to the first day, his memory wiped and Bishop must begin it all again. As he has done previously over unknown years and decades.

As I said, more a locked world than a locked room mystery. With a fiendish dash of time travel and Groundhog Day frustration and puzzlement added to the delicious mix. Added to this is a pyschopath intent on killing anyone who tries to find the murderer.

I hope not to ruin anyone’s pleasure in reading this novel when I say that the ending was wonderfully twisted and surprising. Futhermore, it was magnificently enjoyable and thought provoking.

Turton has crafted a fine novel that - despite being troublesome to explain - is a joy to read. His prose is terrific and he has created a wonderful world - familiarly reassuring yet disturbingly creepy - in which Bishop and a host (pun intended) of finely drawn characters live and die.

I read this book during the early months of this year, when the nights were long and the days cold and grey and when the weather outside my window seemed to take its lead from the pages I held in my hands. And I loved the experience.
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Absolutely adored this book, I was completely taken by surprise by all the twists and turns.
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I'm really behind with my book reviews but I totally jumped on the hype band wagon with this one so had to get my thoughts down as soon as I'd finished this book.  I'm usually wary of books that are extremely popular and everyone is screaming about, but readers, this one is so worth it.

Following on from the blurb, think of a country estate murder mystery, throw in some Groundhog Day, an element of The Time Traveller's Wife and some classic Agatha Christie and you have something like this book.  It's so unbelievably clever and well plotted, I can't imagine the planning that would have to go into a sophisticated plot like this.

With the jumping around of hosts and days it can be tricky to keep track and it was suggested to me that I keep a note of the days, and the hosts for that day, which I did, and I'm not going to lie, I'm not entirely sure that I understood and followed every little bit of what was going on so don't go in expecting an easy read, you really will need to have your wits about you.  I tried to keep up with what each host was discovering but there was just no way I could keep track so really appreciated the plot reminders throughout.

It's different to anything I've ever read before.  I don't usually like magical realism, and I'm not even sure that this book fits that genre, but I thought it was great.  As I was reading I was thinking I hope this and that gets explained and I'm not left hanging with unanswered questions about the hows, whys and wheres but I was very happy with the conclusion!  Would never have guessed it in a million years!

An exciting, offbeat read - a huge 5* from me! :)
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As many reviewers have already said, this is a high-concept mindbending murder mystery story with a Golden Age country house setting in which Aiden Bishop has eight days to work out who murdered Evelyn Hardcastle, waking up in the body of a different character to repeat the day from another viewpoint. I expect crime and mystery novels to be very focused on plotting, but I definitely under-estimated how complex this particular book was going to be – the Cluedo and Agatha Christie aspects I can get on board with, Inception-style time loops not so much. I think I just about managed to keep track of all of the characters (it’s not an easy book to read on a Kindle). However, I didn’t really engage with them emotionally or care about what happened to them that much and that lessened my enjoyment a lot. These are the same issues I had with Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders – I don’t usually get on with books where experimental aspects gets in the way of character. Overall, full marks for ambition and originality, but I feel this is a book which seems like it was more rewarding and enjoyable for Turton to write than it is for others (or just me…) to read.
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An ingenious, head-spinning take on the golden age of crime murder mystery. Set in the twenties, Lord and Lady Hardcastle are hosting a masquerade at their country estate, Blackheath House, to mark the return of their daughter Evelyn and the date on which it is to be held is highly significant - marking 19 years since a terrible family tragedy. At this ball, Evelyn is to be murdered - in fact, she has died many times already. Stuck in a hideous Groundhog Day loop, Evelyn is destined to die again and again unless our narrator Aiden Bishop, can identify the murderer.. Every day he wakes up inhabiting the body of one of the other characters (there's a really useful list of characters and a map of the house at the beginning) and this comes with their knowledge as well as their own motives and insights. If he doesn't solve it, he is destined to repeat this for eternity but, crucially, with his memories wiped. It's hard to do justice to the intricacy of the plot which is labyrinthine - swirling and snaking and twisting, with its head hopping antics. 
 
I am not a puzzler, and rarely guess correctly at Cluedo - so I had absolutely no chance of solving the riddle, but it was still a thrilling ride, so well executed with a fantastic sense of atmosphere and period.
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Unlike the rest of the blogging universe, I was completely underwhelmed by this book. I feel bad because Stu seems like a lovely chap! I didn't empathise or connect with any of the characters, simply because there was so much effort to keep the momentum of cleverness that they were paper thin in their depiction. It was a clever plot, but at times I felt the reader was being left behind in the wake of the urge for even more trickery. The ending was bizarre too....
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I was so looking forward to reading this, I just loved the premise of the story. But unfortunately by about half way I was wishing it was over. I was losing track of the characters, the hosts, who was related to who, I didn't feel particularly attached to any of the characters. If it was about half as long, and not so many 'hosts' involved, I would have enjoyed it more.
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