The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 22 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

THE SEVEN DEATHS OF EVELYN HARDCASTLE by Stuart Turton is a masterpiece of subterfuge, mystery, and originality as we try to weave our way through the lies and deception that are taking place on an old country estate where nothing is what it seems.

Waking up on the forest floor screaming 'Anna' isn't usually the way Aiden Bishop wakes up but as he struggles to remember who he is and what on earth he is doing at this private party held by the Hardcastle family, it is only the beginning of this nightmare. For Aiden is bound here by some unstoppable force and he will wake up every day in the body of another guest until he can uncover who is responsible for the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle. But he is not alone in his quest, and if Aiden is ever to win his freedom he must figure out what is truly going on and who, if anyone, he can trust ...

With so many twists and turns, exquisite descriptions, and a plot that is so refreshing and unique that it will capture your attention from the very first line, THE SEVEN DEATHS OF EVELYN HARDCASTLE by Stuart Turton is everything I never knew I wanted in a gripping story and I could not put it down. Imagine a mixture of Sherlock Holmes meets a run-down Downtown Abbey, and it might give you an idea of the atmosphere and setting, but harder to describe are the distinctive characters that carefully show you what is happening but can we, the readers, trust what they are showing us?
The drama is flawless and there are so many times that you will think you have it figured out only to find you're mistaken again. This MUST be made into a tv drama or movie as I could picture every page as I was reading it and would make a wonderful viewing experience, and as for that ending ...WOW!

THE SEVEN DEATHS OF EVELYN HARDCASTLE by Stuart Turton is a superb debut and I cannot wait to read more from this talented author.
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I finished this book having realised fairly early on that I had approached what I was about to read from totally the wrong angle. This is one fiendish puzzle with complexities that are beyond devilish.

The premise of the book is seemingly one of a Golden Age mystery where our chief protagonist has to solve the puzzle of who killed Evelyn Hardcastle. He has eight days to do so. So far so simple the clock is ticking and the clues are presented and you put them together and try to get there before he does. Oh, you are sadly mistaken if you think that is all there is to it!

The problem is far more complex in that our man inhabits different characters for each of these eight days and the same day keeps repeating. So he starts of as a doctor and he sees some stuff going on from that character's perspective but when he wakes up again he is someone totally different and finds some new clues but also sees different aspects to the stuff he learnt the day before. All the while he is trying to keep hold of his true self whilst inhabiting what are mostly a disagreeable bunch of people.

Thrown into the mix is a nineteen year old mystery, linked to the return of Evelyn Hardcastle from her stay in Paris. There are also plenty of other dastardly goings on from blackmail to murder all to be kept on top of. Allies are formed but whether they are wise ones or not remain to be seen.

So it’s complex and ideally, to have any hope of keeping track of what’s going on, I would have needed an entire wall of notes to keep track of various characters and their actions because sometimes the chief protagonist jumps back in time. This means that character is for example unhappily at midday on day four or rather in his fourth host, anticipating where they need to go next to find a missing piece of the puzzle and then it’s back to the second host to pick up where he last left off. To be fair the author gives the reader pointers and reminders but it is a book to throw yourself into and hope that you can keep manage to hold enough information in your head to keep pace.

Now I’ve reached the end I’d ideally go back and savour just how clever the whole book is, but if I’m honest my brain hurts from the effort. Which has left me with a problem on how to rate the book. I really admired both the premise and the execution (of the book not Evelyn Hardcastle) and I did nearly work out one strand of the mystery proving that I wasn’t completely confused by it all, but I’m not used to a book being such hard work. Ideally this would have been better as a holiday read, it’s not a book to escape a hard day’s work with, it is a fiendish puzzle that won’t let you go! If all that isn’t enough this tale told in the first person present tense, which is entirely fitting, also poses philosophical questions which soon become apparent. Now I have the answer to the mystery I can ponder those at my leisure.

I take my hat off to Stuart Turton for the most original read I have read for a long time.

I'd like to thank Bloomsbury Publishing plc for the chance to read The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle prior to publication on 8 February 2018. This review is my unbiased thanks to them.
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“How lost do you have to be to let the devil lead you home?”

WOW!! I have just finished this book and…wow, again!

Imagine that Agatha Christie had had a child with Quantum Leap and Groundhog Day, who then grew up watching Black Mirror, Back to the Future and even Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and you might just start to get a handle on the uniquely complex mystery that is The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.

First of all, MAJOR #coverlove: the black, red and gold look is gorgeous – very art deco – and with references to some of the key elements in the corners. (There is an interesting article about putting this beautiful cover together here.) Second of all: LOVE the floor plan and map inside the cover. So much so that it’s inspired a second blog post to follow on Friday (spoilers: I have always adored a good floor plan!)

OK, onto the book. It opens with an invitation to The Masquerade Ball at Blackheath House and a list of notable attendees. (There are a LOT of characters to keep a hold on, and some very similar names – Daniel, Dickie, Donald Davies, Derby, Dance – so this epigraph is very helpful!) It is reminiscent of the Golden Age of Detection-style country house murder mysteries, but there is nothing remotely jolly about this country house, nor cosy about its murder mystery.

“Darkness presses up against my bedroom window, its cold breath leaving frost on the glass. The fire hisses in response, the swaying flames my only light”

The first scene throws you straight into the story and from then on you have to hold on tight to keep a grip of the intricate and cleverly constructed plot! Even with the information given in the blurb, it did take me a while to get my head round the internal logic of the book’s concept, but I did get there. 🙂 The gripping pace barely lets up and there are lots of clues and “Aha!” moments spread throughout.

The book is absolutely beautifully written, with some amazingly creative descriptions of the house, the grounds, the weather and people’s emotions. It also describes well the freaky and sometimes amusing (and sometimes hideous) practicalities of ‘being’ someone else.

It is extremely tense in places and by the time the story was building to its climax, I was frantically racing through it and astounded by each twist and turn as the conclusion played out. I don’t think I managed to successfully work out any of the plot points – but that is more than fine by me; I had a great time guessing and I much prefer it when a book can make my jaw hit the floor.

“Sweat is trickling down my spine, the tension in the room thick enough to scoop up in handfuls”

This is such a good book: it has a unique plot, an intriguing mystery, a dash of humour, some beautiful writing and all the thrilling plot twists! I loved the way that something is observed on one day, then a day or two later you see how that situation or event came about.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is shamelessly complicated, incredibly clever and brilliantly plotted and if you can keep your wits about you, you will love it too. Huge thanks to NetGalley, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc and Raven Books for the ARC.
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In this novel the main character, Aiden Bishop finds himself in a time loop of the 'Groundhog Day' variety. He is at a country house party for Evelyn Hardcastle who has just returned from Paris after a long period away. Set in the period between the wars (1920/30s) the guests include a mixture of titled nobility and socialites along with a supporting cast of valets, maids and household staff.  Evelyn will be murdered at the party and Aiden finds himself occupying the bodies of a series of different guests and staff, viewing the events from their very different perspectives. In order to escape the recurring time loop, and the recurring death of Evelyn, he needs to work out how she was murdered and also solve the murder of her younger brother 19 years earlier. The plot is further complicated by the presence of other characters also hoping to escape the time loop and trying to hinder his investigations. And then there is "the footman" a shadowy, sinister character Aiden has been told to watch out for.

This is a complex plot with a difference and one that I very much enjoyed. There are lots of clever twists and mysteries that take a while to resolve so it is a book best read when fully awake and concentrating, especially as the number of different characters at the party could be confusing, especially early in the book when events are unfolding rapidly. Fortunately, there is a character list at the front of the group that is useful until you get to know all the guests and house staff.

This very clever, well written debut novel perfectly captures the atmosphere of the weekend country house party from the era between the wars and would make a great movie. It was a really creative idea to switch the main character between different bodies and minds and watch him try to battle against their personalities to achieve his goal. The reason for the house party being stuck in a time loop was also very imaginative and inventive. Can't wait to see what Mr Turton comes up with next!
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I requested The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle because I'd seen quite a few posts on Twitter about it over the last few months, mentioning the unusual and intriguing nature of the book. The description of Gosford Park meets Inception was the final hook. 

I really, really got lost in the world of this book. In a nutshell, Aidan Bishop is compelled to live the same day over and over as different people until he solves the mystery of who murders Evelyn Hardcastle. 

It's clever, it's fascinating and it's a seriously claustrophobic read. I dreamt several nights in a row that I was looking in the mirror and didn't recognise the face staring back at me - the story buried itself into my mind until I came to the end.
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The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

When Aiden Bishop comes to his senses, he is standing in a wood, wearing a dinner jacket splattered with mud and wine, and he has absolutely no idea who he is or where he is. All he knows is that he must save Anna, a girl he can hear running in panic through the trees. But this is the story of Evelyn Hardcastle. Tonight she will die and the night after that she will die again, and the one after that. Until Aiden Bishop can break the cycle. But on each of those days Aidan will inhabit the body of a different person, each a guest at a weekend party being held at the isolated and unhappy house of Blackheath. But somebody is determined that Aiden will never be successful, that he shall never leave, and Evelyn will be doomed to die every night forever more.

And that, which is what you can also learn from the book’s cover and blurb, is all I will reveal about the astonishing plot of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. In fact, it barely does it justice because this is one of the most deliciously complex, multi-layered and clever plots that I have ever read. How the author Stuart Turton managed to knot this all together is a feat beyond all comprehension. Not an end – and there are countless ends – is left loose. The author’s powers of imagination, which are substantial, are equalled by his confident and self-assured handling of a plot and structure that must at times have felt like juggling cats. I am in awe of Stuart Turton’s genius.

As befitting one of the finest novels that I have ever read, there are so many elements to it. In some ways, it is science fiction – its premise is undoubtedly mindbending, its mood at times fantastical; but it is also historical fiction. We’re trapped in the English countryside of the elite in the years immediately following the First World War. As we move above and below stairs, there is most definitely a feel of Gosford Park about it. But it is also a murder mystery and its setting and elegance, as well as the confined setting and limited cast of suspects, immediately reminds the reader (at least this one) of Agatha Christie. And it is also accompanied by wit, deceit, ugliness, horror, blood.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a substantial novel and not a page of it is wasted. Every page moves on this stunning plot in some manner and, as the novel continues, everything cross references. We move around the story in ingenious ways, we meet characters from a multitude of perspectives. And hanging over it all is a mood of dread and intensity, as well as of hope and of dashed hopes.

I was glued to this incredible, beautifully-written book, reading it all over one glorious weekend. This is a novel that expects you to keep your wits about you. You might have to flick back through the pages on occasion. It makes demands. But all of them are rewarded. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a debut novel – how extraordinary is that?! Surely there can be few better. Stuart Turton is about to make a very big name for himself. What on earth will he write next? I cannot wait to find out. In the meantime, make sure you don’t miss The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.
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The 'Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle' is a unique take on an early twentieth century murder mystery.  Evelyn Hardcastle is murdered during a party at her family's estate.  Aiden has been tasked with solving the murder and he has been given a deadline of eight days.  He is trapped in a loop however, in which each day is the same day repeated, Evelyn has not yet been murdered and Aiden's spirit is cycled through the bodies of eight guests staying at the manse.  Even though the book is narrated from the point of view of the main character Aiden, we don't know too much about him as he begins this loop with acute loss of memory.  Aiden must navigate the personalities of his host bodies and uncover clues from each their vantage points.  Only after unveiling the murderer can he be released from the supernatural force imprisoning him on the estate.  

My condensed overview of the plot does not do this book justice.  It was interesting and engaging from the start.  The characters were selfish, entitled and ugly but absolutely fascinating.  The intentional confusion at the start of the novel gradually cleared and was overtaken by a real sense of urgency as time ran out to solve the case.  As a whodunit there were red herrings and explosive revelations that kept me guessing right to the end.  

This may not be everyone's cup of tea.  One blurb likens the book to an Agatha Christie crossed with Inception, and that is probably the most accurate description.  I personally loved it and know that it will be hard to find anything similar in the crime or fantasy sections.  Thank you Net Galley for providing me with an early copy.
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Sebastian Bell wakes in a wood, yells “Anna!” and swears he saw a woman shot before his eyes. Waiting, chasing, he hears a stranger approach behind him, slip a compass in his pocket and say “east.” Bell, who can remember nothing of his life before this moment, finds himself in Blackheath, a house isolated in a forest away from the nearest village, where a house party is being held to welcome home Evelyn Hardcastle, prodigal daughter.

And so we begin. While I usually hate comparisons that mix up other books, this is kind of a mixture of The Time Traveller’s Wife and Agatha Christie, but with an added touch of violence and nastiness not found in either. It’s all plot and a twisty, turny, details based plot at that, where everything could have significance so after a while you have no idea what is important and what isn’t.

Bell, it turns out, is merely a handy body for someone called Aiden Bishop to inhabit for a while. Aiden has been placed in Blackheath to solve the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle who will die later that evening. Aiden gets to inhabit eight different bodies of guests at the party and use them to try and work out what is going on. He has been given his mission by a mysterious Plague Doctor, who must be told by 11pm who the murderer is, otherwise Aiden will be condemned to repeat the day all over again, but remembering nothing, until he gets it right. But, there are further twists. Aiden is not the only one trying to find out the answer; he’s in competition with others to find it and make his escape, and he must do so before he runs out of bodies to inhabit for there is a terrifying footman chasing him down ready to kill his hosts.

Confused? You will be. And yet this is an addictive read. Trying to make sense of the day and the clues as Aiden travels back and forth through the same day in different bodies, trying to remember who he is, who the mysterious Anna is, who is a friend and who an enemy, and ultimately who does kill Evelyn is pretty difficult. It’s breathless stuff. Unless you have a notebook to hand, you may as well not bother trying to work it all out but sit back and enjoy the ride.

There’s not much in the way of character or insight, this is just a crazy story told in a way designed to confuddle and pique your interest. It’s a lot of fun, a breathless rollercoaster read that should do well.
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I was hoping for a different read of this and I started it with hope, but alas, we did not sit well together,
There was nothing wrong with this book, it is inventive and different from what I have read recently, but it was not to my taste.
I did read this in a time where i was struggling to pick a book up and read, so that may have clouded my vision.
I always say that reading is subjective to the reader themselves, so if this sounds interesting to you, then for sure, give it a go!
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An intriguing concept where the age old mystery format is adjusted so that it does not focus upon one single character in an attempt to stop a yet to happen murder. Instead a day is spent in the life of each of a number of 'hosts' which means that the same event can be relived countless times through their eyes and lives. As the story develops, it is realised that rather than merely gathering evidence about Evelyn's murder, tiny changes can be made using the knowledge gleaned which may turn the sequence of events.
I was captivated to begin with, then just as my interest was waning when reliving the same event in the 3rd or 4th host, things suddenly got more exciting and I found myself struggling to put the book down.
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How do you stop a murder that's already happened?

I get excited just thinking about this book I am buzzing for people to read it, we're only a month into the year and it's already my favourite. If you like murder mysteries then keep reading because you're going to love this.

I first saw The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle mentioned on twitter and it immediately caught my attention, I love the cover and the title just grabbed me, not just one death but 7!! I needed to know more so I requested a copy from Netgalley and was absolutely thrilled to be approved. This kept me guessing right to the end, every time I thought I had it nailed something else would change. It was like Cluedo meets Doctor Who trapped in an Agatha Christie timeloop, no aliens but certainly some creepy figures. We know who was killed and how OR DO WE but what we don't know is why... just yet!

"At a gala party thrown by her parents, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed--again. She's been murdered hundreds of times, and each day, Aiden Bishop is too late to save her. Doomed to repeat the same day over and over, Aiden's only escape is to solve Evelyn Hardcastle's murder and conquer the shadows of an enemy he struggles to even comprehend--but nothing and no one are quite what they seem."

Argh it's just brilliant so cleverly done, I loved it so much I'm ordering myself a hardback copy so I can read it again and again and see if I can pick up on some of the clues I had previously dismissed. I love a mystery within a mystery but this had so many mysteries it was mind-blowing. When I got to the end and the killer was revealed I was like woah!!! Did NOT see that coming. As all of the other mysteries finally started to unravel and the pieces puzzled together I was just sat there thinking Holy Shit how HOW did you do this Stu you absolute genius!

Definitely the BEST book I have read so far this year really setting the bar high. I recommend setting a weekend aside for this book, lock the door, grab some snacks and a snuggly blanket and prepare for an epic adventure. Just to add I am purposely telling you absolutely nothing about it aside from how awesome I think it is and the blurb because I don't want to give anything away, do what I did and go in blind because it won't be what you're expecting and that makes it even better.
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4.5 stars out of 5.
First advise I can give about this book is not to read the synopsis at all. Luckily, I went completely blind into it, and WOW it was from surprise to surprise until I got the main plot. So, I would wish everybody to go through this exciting journey instead of the synopsis giving it to you. 
Therefore, I'm not going to write anything about the book, but only my thoughts after reading it. It's Stuart Turton's debut novel, and I definitely congratulate him for this brilliant book. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle has a very original idea behind it. The plot is extremely complex, but intelligent. Writing is nothing but beautiful, dark and atmospheric. It reminds Agatha Christie's style, but it's much more complex than hers. 
The story is taking place in a very short period of time, so it's very dynamic. It's never static, something new and shocking happens every chapter. There are so many characters, time leaps, shocks and surprises. There are stories from the past that connects to the present day. And, nothing is as it seems, so you wreck your brain to work it out, and let me tell you, success is not a guarantee! 
Whilst, I loved the style of the book, I can see that it's not everyone's cup of tea. I read from the reviews that this complexity turned some people off. Also, sometimes it may be the wrong timing for some. If you're looking for an easy mystery read, relax your brain and go through the book quickly, this is not your read. This book is when you're ready for some brain gym :) In addition, I wouldn't recommend Audio version as well, again it might be hard to follow. I remember myself going back and forth sometimes to make sure I was following it. 
All in all, I loved the book and enjoyed getting lost in this complex world trying to solve the mystery. I congratulate Stuart Turton for his first and really good novel. No doubt we'll read more from him in the future, and I certainly am looking forward to it. 
Thanks so much to NetGalley and the publisher for granting me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Evelyn Hardcastle will die tonight. Again.

Doomed to repeat the same fateful day over and over, Aidan Bishop knows that the only way to escape the loop is to find Evelyn's killer. However, the deck seems to be stacked thoroughly against him as Aidan must fight to outwit those who would see him trapped in Blackheath for all eternity. Time is running out, and there are a myriad of intricate threads that Aidan must untangle if he is to solve this mystery once and for all.

**

Meticulously plotted, thrilling and full of surprises, this book was a real winner.

I read a lot of thrillers, crime novels and mysteries, and, as there are only so many stories in the world, I can much of the time put together for myself the main points of a story's resolution. Not so here. I was kept guessing until the very last stages of the tale, and I was not disappointed by the conclusion.

While this is perhaps not the easiest read, owing to a colourful and rather expansive cast of characters that it is important to keep up with, I found that the extra brain power I needed to stay up to speed was well rewarded by a compulsive page-turner that kept up the suspense and the excitement right the way through.

This was an engaging and atmospheric read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's difficult to expound upon the story further without spoilers, but if you enjoy a satisfying mystery that's just a little bit out of the ordinary, I'd happily recommend this novel.
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I am actually not really sure how to talk about this novel without sounding like a complete bumbling idiot. The basic premise is simple. A guy finds himself in different host bodies each day trying to solve a murder before it happens. As other's have said, a groundhog day mystery. Confusing, loads of characters, loads of aspects of the story to keep in mind. Around the middle the book lulled a bit for me and the end did not do it 100% for me, but it was certainly the most unusual mystery I ever read, so he gets bonus points for that.
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I received a copy of this book from NetGalley, in return for an honest review

I was drawn to this book initially as it had a really interesting premise. There’s a murder but the victim won’t die just once. Aiden must solve the murder however the day repeats itself over and over again. The only way to break this cycle is to solve the crime but very day Aiden wakes, it’s as a different person. He is forever trapped  in this cycle until the murder is solved but time is running out.
Described as a mash up of Agatha Christie, Groundhog Day and Quantum Leap. What’s not to like? 
 It’s a really clever book,intricately woven and extremely well plotted. I loved the device of the protagonist jumping from person to person. However I did struggle a great deal with the book. It is a big book over 500 pages and for me it felt like it too. It took me an age to finish. For me the book was quite confusing. The author provides so much information that it necessitates the length of time to read it but it did become a bit of a slog. I constantly had re read passages to ensure I was clear in my mind and on occasion though I should take notes! Perhaps I should have read the book in larger chunks to assist with this.
I did enjoy the jumping from character to character, a great idea for perspective however I found it became quite confusing trying to keep track of the characters (notepad needed again!) This also created characters that you really didn’t get to know. 
Normally a slog means I stop reading but the author does reel you in and make you want to know ‘whodunnit!’ Without giving too much away, after a lot of time and effort invested I felt extremely cheated at the ending. Just so flat. 
A clever but confusing, difficult book. 
3/5
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Wow. I've never read such a cleverly plotted, masterful murder mystery in which time plays a key role. This story is like a Rubix's Cube for the mind. It's fascinating that Aiden must battle with his own hosts' impulses as well as rediscovering his own to free himself from the loop. Inhabiting those people closest to the murder mystery is a blessing but sometimes a curse, as the host himself may be a barrier to investigating (Derby). This created so much tension and frustration (of a good sort) that pushed on the novel. I just didn't want this to end.
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On the one hand, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a classic English country manor murder-mystery, but there's a clue in the title that there's perhaps a little more than this being a little different from the usual Agatha Christie pastiche. In as far as the murder-mystery question of who killed Evelyn Hardcastle at Blackheath manor, the usual suspects that can be found in a select group of notable society figures each with dark secrets are all in place. Explaining how Evelyn Hardcastle dies seven times however is a little more complicated.

 The fact that everything is not entirely what it seems is evident in the way that the reader is rather jarringly and unsettlingly thrown straight into a troubling and intriguing situation. Sebastian Bell finds himself inexplicably in the middle of the woods, screaming the name of a woman who appears to be being pursued by an attacker. He doesn't know how he got there, and for a while can't even remember his own name. It's a bit like being handed the controls to a video game where you don't know your character or the rules and find yourself struggling to get a grasp of a situation that is clearly beyond your control. Don't worry though, you'll have another six lives to work out who killed Evelyn Hardcastle seven times, because when Sebastian wakes up the next day he finds he is no longer Sebastian but another person entirely.

 And Sebastian - or Aiden as he believes he is really called - and indeed the reader, is going to need every one of those lives and the 500-odd pages of Stuart Turton's ambitious novel, because the reason why Evelyn Hardcastle is killed is going to take a bit of figuring out. What is certain is that the gathering is a select one, that all of the guests have been assembled there for a reason, and that the ostensible reason is itself rather strange. Young Thomas Hardcastle, the son of the owners of Blackheath and brother of Evelyn, was murdered on the estate nineteen years ago in circumstances that were never entirely explained. There's more than just a commemoration going on here. And indeed there's more than just a sequence of events that will also lead to the death of Evelyn Hardcastle. Come to that, there are more deaths than just the seven that Evelyn Hardcastle is fated to suffer.

 The biggest mystery is of course how Aiden comes to be in this very unusual Groundhog Day situation where he 'inhabits' a different character each day. Even then, the rules are not as straightforward as that and he doesn't inhabit characters strictly sequentially one day at a time. He is also aware of the presence of an ominous figure in an old Plague Doctor costume who is monitoring his actions and who warns him that he will continue to play out this bizarre situation on repeat until he solves the mystery of the murder. Who knows even how many times he has already been through this? It could be a game of some sort - a virtual reality game - but everything feels real enough and who can tell whether there aren't actual consequences in the 'real-world' if that is indeed even the case. With a footman out to kill each of Aiden's characters, the threat certainly feels very real and immediate.

 A more obvious answer to the conundrum is that The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a literary meta-fictional exercise. It's the experience of an author who has to put aside his own voice and adopt the character and personality of each of his characters as he puts them through a murder-mystery situation. You could see this in how the characters personalities start to take on a greater life of their own as we delve deeper into the mystery and start to observe and react to the actions of other characters. Or, if you like, Aiden's experience of being placed within the personality of another character could be seen as a way of exploring how we can be prisoners of our own natures; wanting to act in one way but finding that there are deeper impulses that determine how we behave. None of these conceptual purposes however really intrude on the novel as a work of murder-mystery fiction with a bit of a twist.

 There is no shortage of ways then of considering what the purpose of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is, and there are plenty of surprises, secrets, murders and conspiracies to keep you guessing, but Stuart Turton's novel can be just as infuriating as is intriguing. To say that it is convoluted is to state the obvious, and your patience will be tested trying to keep up not only with who each of Aiden's characters are and what part of each day they are occupying sequentially and simultaneously - to say nothing of the host of other cast members - but trying to work out how much influence the characters have over a repeated sequence of events is also difficult to determine.

 What keeps you reading is of course the need to get to the bottom of this mystery. The mystery of who killed Evelyn Hardcastle (and her brother) does prove intriguing enough on its own, but the reason why the reader is going to stick with this through all the complications and potential confusion is a need to understand just how this peculiar game-like situation has been established, who is behind it, what its purpose is and what we are going to find at the end of it. Evidently, you'll have to read that yourself to find out, but despite the high expectations it sets, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle delivers brilliantly on its idea, with an ending that doesn't leave you feeling cheated for all the hard work you have to put into keeping up with it. It's even rather more touching, uplifting and redeeming than you suspect it might be from the other horrors it alludes to and contains.
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19 years ago, Evelyn Hardcastle's younger brother was murdered by the lake at the family home. Evelyn was supposed to be looking after him but chose to go riding instead. As a result, she was sent away to Paris. Now, Evelyn's parents have decided to host a ball on the anniversary of this tragedy and this time it is Evelyn who will be murdered. Aiden Bishop finds himself trapped in the crumbling and isolated country house, waking up every morning in the body of a different guest, trying to piece together actions and incidents to prevent Evelyn's death. To be honest, I wasn't quite sure what to make of this book. Highly original, clever with a claustrophobic atmosphere, I found it very intriguing but I'm not entirely sure that I understood everything that was happening!
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This book intrigued me - which is why I chose it. As I started on the adventure I was immediately reminded of the film Groundhog Day where the same day is relived, in the case of Aiden Bishop he is reliving the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle every day but in a different person's body. 

So far so good. 

Then I ran into trouble. I was getting confused with who was who, and whilst I have no aversion of reading on my kindle this was one of those times when I wish I had a 'real' copy so I flick back to the beginning and get a sense of who these people were. 

I persevered because the book is clever, the concept of seeing something happen again and again but in the guise of someone else is intriguing. The twist of being able to stop it to save yourself gives it another added layer. 

But I wonder whether this book was simply too clever for me? I think it might have been. It had all the right elements I like in novels, a cast of characters both masters and servants, a big house, set in the past, a mystery, a twist but it whilst it held my attention enough to keep me reading I was left feeling rather flat at the end. 

For me this book didn't work. If you choose it, it might work for you.
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First of all: I found the book cover misleading. I expected an Agatha Christie Groundhog Day or a rather weird game of Cluedo. Instead I got a breathless, and pretty hyper whodunit with horror and fantasy elements.

There are protagonists caught in time, loops within loops, several unreliable narrators plenty of plot twists and an ever mounting body-count. The first two-thirds of the story left me confused and I would recommend to keep reading breaks to a minimum.

I still enjoyed the book, though, it is an unusual and entertaining reading experience and I applaud its highly ambitious concept.
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