The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
Updated: Jun 26, 2019
GENRE: Mystery, Thriller, Fantasy
Selected by Gemma - December 2018
Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m. There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit. We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer. Understood? Then let's begin...
Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others...
(Synopsis taken from Goodreads)
STORY BEHIND THE BOOK:
When I first saw this book and discovered a map inside the front cover it initially made me think of the game Cludeo, which I adore. On further research having read both the blurb and the synopsis it reminded me of the TV series Quantum Leap, where the main character jumps from the body of one person to another and can only leave once order (of their lives) has been restored. I was very excited by the concept of this book and knew it must be my next book choice. After all, who doesn't love a good board game at Christmas and better still one that is in the form of a book.
THE DISCUSSION: (Contains spoilers)
I started by reading my review and expressing how much I loved the book. I was startled to hear surprised noises and shakes of the head by the other members. Sadly, as it turns out they didn't feel the same way I did about this novel. Some felt no warmth or connection with the characters and found the whole body-hopping element really confusing. On discussion we discovered that we couldn't actually answer some of the straightforward questions posed by one of the members who failed to finished the book, not through lack of understanding on our part but because the story was so complex that it required long drawn out answers where one answer immediately leads to more questions and requires further answers. In short, a mentally draining read where you almost feel you need to start at the beginning and read it again to make full sense of it all.
I admit I found this novel extremely challenging in the sense that the author was always one step ahead of me and I was trying to run to catch up. I can't remember ever feeling like that before. Sure in all books the author holds the answers and to some extent you don't know which way the book will go or what the ending will hold, but with this book it took it beyond my imagination. Not once did I predict what might happen next, or who the murderer would be, or even if there was a murder. It was perplexing, gripping, intriguing, confusing, challenging and complicated. All of which should have made me feel frustrated with the book but in actual fact it did the opposite, it made me reach out for it at every spare second I had and become infatuated with it. This book made me appreciate the complexity, devote my time to exploring it, yearn to pick it up and to respect it and the author. Clearly, my fellow members didn't feel the same way and joked that they must have been reading a different book to me. Perhaps this book needs to be read during a restful summer holiday, lying on a beach where you can devote time, energy and concentration to it rather than during a busy, hectic Christmas period? However you decide to read it one thing will remain, it is a book you will not forget about it. You may forget all the answers due to its complex nature but it will definitely haunt your subconscious. We could see this becoming a film or a television series in years to come, which would be amazing.
1) How did the different narratives and perspectives enrich the story?
2) Which host did you like the most?
3) Do you think Aiden was right to put all his trust in Anna even when he found out the truth about her formal life?
4) How believable is it that Aiden forgave his sister's killer?
5) What life do you think Aiden will have now? Do you think he will form a relationship with Anna?
REVIEW: (Contains Spoilers)
I really loved this book. It was very unique and the most challenging book I think I have ever read. I admit it took my brain a while to relax into the style of the book. The time-travel, body-hopping was a bit of a challenge at the beginning but I had every confidence that all ends would be tied up and I would fully comprehend how the clues were laid out the further I got through the story. I made full use of the map and guest list at the start of the book when characters/places were introduced and I did question whether or not I should be making notes to keep track of sequences of events and characters as there was an awful lot going on. Saying this it all made total sense at the end of the book and I really felt the urge to start all over and reread the book as it was very cleverly written. No wonder it took the author three months of planning and three years to write. My only regrets are that I didn't read this book over a shorter period of time, I initially was only able to read a couple of chapters each night; and that I didn't get a copy of the book with the red pages. I am tempted to buy this book again just for those red pages!!
I was never able to pin down the era that this book is set in which challenged my imagery, but that aside I found it a great read. The varied characters all had a purpose and a part of the puzzle. All I had to do was to put all the clues together cohesively enough to see the end before I got to the reveal. I usually manage to roughly work it out about two thirds or three quarters in but at that stage I was still completely in the dark.
I will have to read this one again, perhaps whilst on holiday so I can do it all in one go - I'm sure there's lots that will reveal itself second time around.
I can say that this is like no other book I have ever read. The concept of the time travel and body hopping was fascinating. The fact that one man was eight different people at different times but that existed within one time and he could change events absolutely baffled me - but in the best way. I thought that reliving the same day eight times would bore me, but because he was different characters the story nicely intertwined without being repetitive. The murder mystery element was interesting and I honestly couldn't figure it out until the very end. I really respect Turton for being able to write a time-travel novel this seamlessly - I didn't get confused with the characters or the days. I highly recommend if you are after a brain twisting and interesting read.
Sandra: 3 Ashlea: 8
Let us know your thoughts about this book. We would love to read your reviews and hear what you would score it.
If you enjoyed this book why not try:
Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Summer of Impossible Things by Rowan Coleman
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Clare North