Book Reviews

Book Review: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

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“Their memories crowd the edges of my mind, the weight of them almost too much to bear. I want everything they want. I feel their aches and am made timid by their fears. I’m no longer a man, I’m a chorus.”

TITLE & AUTHOR: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

GENRE: Mystery/Historical Fiction/Fantasy

PUBLISHED : February 8th 2018, by Raven Books

MY RATING: 5/5

 

A Puzzle Like You’ve Never Seen

I must admit I’m not a frequent reader of mystery novels. Even though I love Agatha Christie of course, I haven’t read more than five modern mysteries, maybe not even that much. So, I’m not sure why I requested this ARC in the first place, or what drew me to it, and because of that I’ve been delaying this novel for months, and finally decided to get it off my chest recently – and I couldn’t be more glad that I did.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a puzzle. A puzzle you’re entirely drawn into, which you try to solve along with its main character, Aidan Bishop. The more you read, you can feel the clock ticking, as you’re running out of time to solve its big mystery. Overall, this novel reminded me of many things: Inception, Groundhog Day, Christie’s novels, even Alice in Wonderland, but mostly of a board game I used to play as a kid, called The Game of Witches. The pieces for all players were exactly same – black hollowed-out plastic ones, with an exception of the top, where an image of a witch in one of the four colors was placed. The trick of the game was this – when you start, and pull your pieces out of your starting position one by one, you have to flip them over, covering the color. This leads to all pieces being the same, black ones, and as the game advances you easily lose track of which pieces belong to you, and which ones to your opponents, leading to a confusion. Unknowingly, you may help your opponents by advancing their pieces, while thinking you’re playing with your own, all along racing to be the first one to reach the end.

“Nothing like a mask to reveal somebody’s true nature.”

That is what this novel essentially is. There are three players; a mystery to be solved, which is the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle as you might have guessed from the title; and various obstacles along the way, that may help you on your quest or turn against you. The first obstacle is that you have only eight days. The second one is that each day you will wake up as a different person – one of the guests of the party hosted by Lord and Lady Hardcastle. The third obstacle is a time-loop you’re trapped in. There are even more obstacles along the way, but I don’t want to ruin the experience for you, because as much as this novel is reminiscent of the movies and novels I mentioned, it is an entirely unique thing, standing firmly on its own bookish feet, and it is on you to explore it and solve it, if you can. The complexity of Evelyn Hardcastle may put you off, but it is in fact its strongest point. It is a masterfully constructed maze, spinning you in circles on every single turn.

“If this isn’t hell, the devil is surely taking notes.”

Other than its unprecedented complexity and design, this novel brings up some important questions – are we truly what we look like on the surface? Are we defined by our tumultuous past or our present actions? Can we be redeemed for our crimes by changing our true selves? This novel masterfully plays with human nature, which is most notable is the eight hosts Aidan Bishop takes. Each one has his own agenda, his own cowardice, intelligence, urges and desires, and by the end of it, it becomes difficult to pick out the true Aidan, even for himself.

“I grit my teeth. For once, it would be a refreshing to find somebody in this place who was exactly what they appeared to be.”

Now I’ll try to shut my mouth and say nothing else, because every twist and turn in Evelyn Hardcastle is worth exploring and discovering on your own. If you love puzzles, games and mysteries like myself – then this novel is made for you. Even though I’m a huge fantasy lover, this mystery is the best novel I’ve read so far in the last couple of years. I’ll stop here and leave you with this little but significant quote:

“Too little information and you’re blind, too much and you’re blinded.”

 

P.S. A reminder to enter my very first, international giveaway! It’s ending in only two days, so hurry up, and good luck everyone! πŸ™‚

Β A Rafflecopter Giveaway

 

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34 thoughts on “Book Review: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

  1. Great review! I’m looking forward to reading this one now even more. I do love a murder mystery and this one seems… interesting. It does sound complex from what you’ve said but sometimes putting in the effort gets the greatest reward!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Gerry! 😊 Oh it’s awesome, trust me! It is very complex but in a good way, otherwise I’d quit halfways. πŸ˜‚ I had an earc on my kindle, so it was tedious going back to the intro all the time, but in a paper version you’ll have to flip to the intro many times, where there’s a list of characters, and it helps writing few things down. It was so cool, I felt like I was solving the mistery along with the main character, and at one point I noticed something doesn’t add up, and I was like oh no the writer made a mistake because he wrote such a complex story, and then it wasn’t a mistake but a twist that tricked both me and the main character haha. πŸ˜‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ll have to give it a go! I tend to read off of paper books over Kindle anyway so that will help me when I need to go back several pages. I find it really clever how some writers make such complex stories that make sense. I’m definitely intrigued by this one!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. If I knew how good it was, I’d have ordered a paperback too! 😊 I got an arc and those are always good to lousy, I’ve never read one this great. πŸ™‚ Me too, I’m really glad I stumbled upon this one, as I don’t usually read mysteries. πŸ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for a fun review – after 50 years as a reader, it’s often hard to find a novel concept and this would definitely seem to qualify. What an interesting concept. Cheers, Brian

    Liked by 2 people

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