The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 22 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

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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I wrote so many notes while reading this book yet I’m writing this review without them, as I'm not sure they make much sense. I finished The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle with an aching head and a sense of relief, as if I'd completed a mental marathon. I read this alongside three other people and I'm so glad that I did (or rather, we did), as we had so much, possibly too much, to discuss along the way.

Evelyn Hardcastle dies at Blackheath House during a party. Not just once, but seven times, and will then do so again and again - unless Aiden can solve her murder and discover the culprit, allowing him to escape Blackheath House and his 'Groundhog Day' cycle. As each day begins, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different party guest. Each time Aiden becomes his host, he learns more about them - their beliefs, their prejudices, their emotions and more. But who is Aiden? Who is the killer? And will Aiden succeed in his task?  

Many people will have read comparisons with Quantum Leap, Agatha Christie and Cluedo, and every one of these is right. This book is a combination of time travelling, body leaping and puzzle solving. A murder mystery written in Agatha Christie style that pulled me in and wouldn't let me leave (like Aiden) until I'd turned the final page. I was mesmerised by the prose and the underlying plot. Some guests were far more likeable than others and each had their own agenda, so it was difficult to know who to trust. I guessed some minor details and had suspicions about major ones, but nothing prepared me for what was in store. 

I’m naturally a logical person, but trying to apply logic to this book didn't seem to work, as I was totally lost at times, trying to fathom it all out in my head - not just the murder mystery, but the whole concept. I was left with several questions, so I'm tempted to read it again from the start and think of it as a giant logic puzzle by creating a spider chart on the wall. But then part of me isn't sure I'll ever make sense of it.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a plotting masterpiece and was, I assume, a plotting headache for the author. I wouldn't call it a relaxing read if, like me, you're trying to work it out as you go. But it was an enjoyable experience overall, highly entertaining and a challenge. Be prepared to lose not only several hours of reading time, but your mind too.
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I really enjoyed this book, the traditional crime narrative with an entirely new twist. Throughout the story I was kept guessing not only on the identity of the killer but on so many other points as well, such as why was this happening and who was our protagonist really? The conclusion was satisfying and definitely unexpected, thoroughly recommended.
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A very clever, intriguing plot that sees Aiden Bishop wake up as different people each day in a nightmare house party where a murder occurs disguised as a suicide.  The main thing to get to grips with is that nothing is what it seems, no one can be trusted and there is only one way out - which seems fairly impossible.  This is a great read for those who like puzzle solving mixed with a sprinkle of fantasy and a coutry house murder mystery.  I was intrigued and enjoyed experiencing the different hosts but I did get a bit lost in the middle, who? what? where? how?  Its good fun though, very original and a conclusion that twists, turns but satisfies. One that everyone will be talking about.
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Firstly, I must congratulated Mr. Stuart Turton on the expert level of complexity of this novel! I don't think I've ever read such a tightly woven yarn full of mystery and deception. Bravo! There is so much detail to keep straight as each morsel of information is revisited from different angles numerous times. Halfway through the book I felt I should be keeping notes but abandoned that notion deciding, instead, to relax and enjoy the ride. It proved the wisest course and made me appreciate the cleverness of his feat to the fullest. 

I feel overwhelmed at the thought of reviewing The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. It really is a master stroke in that the time and place create an atmosphere rich with possibilities whilst our narrator, Aiden, must experience the lives of multiple 'hosts' in his quest to solve the mystery. Body jumping creates many narratives and requires ample backstory for each character. This couldn't have been done any better. Confusing? Yes, it was, at times, but worth the time to prevail to the end. The climax was wholly unexpected as was the vehicle behind this fiendish puzzle. I couldn't have been more surprised! I shall stop here as I don't want to give anything away. Going in blind is the best way to experience this novel. I hope you enjoy it, too!
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THE SEVEN DEATHS OF EVELYN HARDCASTLE is one of the most creative, twisty and complex books I've ever read! This is a challenging book that is ultimately very rewarding. I had no idea where the plot was going and the story kept me hooked until the very end.
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Aiden Bishop wakes up in the body of somebody else and the only thing he knows is the name of a woman, Anna, but he has no idea who she is. He finds himself in Blackheath, where everyone seems to know him and slowly he discovers that that day will be repeated eight times and every time Aiden will wake up in someone else’s body until he figures out who kills Evelyn Hardcastle at the ball that night, but it won’t be easy because there are other hosts like him who are trying to find out the killer.

I think that the concept of the book is brilliant and I loved the many surprises and complications in which Aiden occurred every few pages, but for some reason I couldn’t really get into the story. I often found myself confused both by the story and the characters, so I can’t say I fully appreciated it. All in all, it's a good book and I really loved the ending.
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This is a high concept novel.  Combining the Agatha Christiesque country house murder with a science fiction plot in which characters inhabit others and relive the same day, the book is very complex.  On many levels it works but on many others it does not.  I stopped caring about the characters fairly early on and, whilst admiring the imagination of the writer, I felt a little lost at times.
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Intriguing and cleverly written. Would not have a problem recommending this .
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