To be honest, I don’t know where to even start reviewing this one! What a head spin this book was. I found it both one of the most fascinating and also most frustrating books I have ever read in equal measure – meaning that in a good way, even if I felt at times that it was doing my head in.
Do you ever wonder where authors get their ideas from? To me, the novel had the feel of a sophisticated weekend of a murder-mystery getaway that has gone terribly wrong, where you no longer play out the role of your character but have to live it.
Turton may have chosen a classical 1920’s setting in an old English mansion and started his novel like a classical locked-room whodunit Agatha Christie style, but this is where the similarity ends. If you like your crime novels linear and with a nice little breadcrumb trail that allows you to solve it before the big reveal, then turn back now, because there is no hope of ever winning with this one! Of course, the real die-hard armchair detective may take on the challenge, but be prepared to give away your life to a sea of sticky notes to keep track of the crazy timelines. I am sure that everyone has heard that Turton uses a groundhog day type of scenario in his mystery, where the MC Aiden Bishop returns to the same day eight times in the bodies of different hosts to solve the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle. But the author is not satisfied with that. He also surmises that Aiden inhabits all of his eight characters at once, only ever seeing the day through his current day’s host. Yes, I know, it didn’t make much sense to me either, and still totally flummoxes my minds, but the story still managed to sweep me up in its dark current and trap me for hours in the nightmarish scenario until the mystery was solved. Could I have predicted the outcome? Never!
I will not go into the story here, and if you want the bare bones you can easily get that from the blurb. This book was such a headspin that I will concentrate on a few points, with the general premise that I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Well, listening to it, because I chose the audio version, which I regretted at times, when trying to recall the 100 different characters and timelines whilst commuting to and from work. One of my favourite aspects of the book was the premise that Aiden wakes each morning in the body of a different host, reliving the same day over and over again until he can solve the imminent murder of Evelyn Hardcastle, the daughter of the house. Whilst Aiden retains part of his own personality, he must also find a way to work with his hosts’ personalities and abilities, a task that sounds easier than it is, because not all of his characters are very nice people, or very smart. This was such a clever aspect of the story that made the reading journey a real adventure for me. Somehow Turton also manages to convey enough of Aiden himself so that the reader can “bond” with him, ensuring the emotional involvement that I find so vital for my enjoyment of a book.
I freely admit that there are some aspects of the story which still don’t make much sense to me. My limited intellect obviously doesn’t stretch far enough to comprehend the whole concept of time travel and being split into various characters, so forgive me if I concede defeat on that front. What I can say however is that this was one of the most entertaining books I have read in a long time, and definitely one of the most original mysteries ever to come on the market. If you are a fan of the traditional whodunit but also like something totally outside the box, then this is definitely for you!
The Hardcastle family is hosting a masquerade at their home, Blackheath, and their daughter Evelyn will die. Evelyn is doomed to die every day, until Aiden Bishop can break the cycle by identifying her killer. There’s just one catch: Aiden will wake up as one of eight different guests. Some of these guests will be more helpful than others, and some of them may not survive long enough to provide Aiden with much help.
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a well written and fascinating novel. It is a wonderfully original and surprising story about a motley and mysterious cast of characters trying to work out what caused Evelyn Hardcastle’s death. To say more would give too much away! Read it - you won’t be disappointed! Thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark and NetGalley for the ARC.