The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (book review).

April 19, 2018 | By | Reply More

When Aiden Bishop wakes up in a forest, he can’t remember how he got there, which is unsurprising as he’s currently inhabiting someone else’s body. Evelyn Hardcastle is going to die that night and Aiden must solve her murder and deliver proof of his solution to the mysterious plague doctor at 11pm precisely.

He’ll have eight hosts and eight attempts to get to the truth in order to escape from Blackheath Manor, living the same day over again until he solves it. Yet not everyone is who they seem to be and, as the footman stalks Aiden’s hosts and other characters thwart his attempts to find the answer, time is running out. Can Aiden escape and what is he willing to sacrifice to gain his freedom?

Stuart Turton’s debut novel, ‘The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle’ is a genre-defying murder mystery with a Science Fiction twist. With an intricately plotted time-hopping story, this book was a fascinating read that kept me turning the pages until far too late at night, just to see how everything was resolved. It’s a style that could have been very confusing and, perhaps at the start it was a little difficult to figure out what was going on but, as more and more information is gradually revealed to both the reader and the protagonist, everything comes together a really satisfying manner. It’s a pretty impressive novel, let alone considering the fact that it’s also the author’s debut.

The cast of characters is an interesting mix, not least because it’s often unclear who is really themselves and who is inhabited by Aiden or another character. The clashing personalities of Aiden and his hosts is skilfully portrayed, with the hosts’ dominant characteristics forcing their way through and Aiden battling to prevent some of the more unpleasant personality traits from surfacing. It’s interesting to see how all the characters react to each other, particularly when Aiden causes them to behave in a manner that defies others’ expectations.

At the end, I’m still not sure just who Aiden is, but I’m not sure that Aiden himself is sure neither, so that works for me. It does make it a bit difficult to really engage with the characters, but that confusion and distance from them is part of what makes the story works. Never knowing which character is really who they claim to be keeps you guessing right to the end and, just when you think you have things figured out, there’s another twist to turn everything on its head again.

‘The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle’ is a book where the blurb caught my interest the first time I read it and, when I spotted the Kindle edition on sale for £2.89, I knew that I wouldn’t be waiting for the paperback version to come out. It’s a book unlike anything I’ve ever read, with the murder mystery perfectly paced and the host-swapping done in a really clever way.

It kept me guessing right to the very end and, the more I read, the more I wanted to read. This is a book that’s worth taking your time over and giving your full attention so that you appreciate the little details and I think it’s one I’d also like to re-read to see what I missed the first time round. It’s smartly written and I’m looking forward to seeing what Stuart Turton gives us next.

Vinca Russell

April 2018

(pub: Raven Books/Bloomsbury. 528 page paperback. Price: £ 7.55 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-40888-956-5. Ebook: £ 4.76 (UK))

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Category: Books, Scifi

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