‘Somebody’s going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won’t appear to be a murder, and so the murderer won’t be caught. Rectify that injustice and I’ll show you the way out.’
It is meant to be a celebration, but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed. But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.
The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath….
Author: Stuart Turton
Narrator: Jot Davies
Publisher: Audible Studios
Audio Release Date: 08/02/2018
Run Time: 16 hrs 51 mins
My Rating of ‘The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle’: 5 out of 6
I’m going to write a review for this one, but I literally could just get away with saying ‘Wow.’ Just wow. Give Stuart Turton your money. Buy multiple copies just to give him more. It’s that good.’
Anyway, I suppose I best expand on that award-winning review.
‘The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle’ (or the ‘Seven And A Half Deaths’ if you live in America … because why not ruin a title by making it more wordy?) is the story of a man who is trapped in a potentially never-ending loop in which a murder has been committed at a stately home named Blackheath. In order to escape Blackheath, our hero must solve the case and report back with his findings as to who killed Evelyn Hardcastle. The twist is that every single day he awakes in a new host body. He is subject to the strengths and limitations of these hosts.
From the very first chapter you just know you are onto something special. The fact that there are so many different personalities trying to solve the same crime at the same time, each of their tales having to intertwine in order for the larger whole ever to be realised, is magnificent. I also remember thinking ‘this must have been an absolute bit of torture to write’. According to the author himself it was absolutely horrible and one of the most frustrating times of his life. When you get a quarter of the way in you can see why and you really feel for the chap. You also begin to appreciate the genius he is grinding out.
This book is probably the most unique take on the ‘who dunnit’ genre I have ever read/listened to. In fact, it’s probably the most unique book I have encountered in any genre. It’s an absolute masterpiece and a true masterclass on how good a standalone novel can be. We find ourselves in an era where a story has to be told over a ten-book series. It’s good for the readers and good for the publisher’s bank accounts … but there’s something so much more enjoyable about experiencing a great stand alone. It could be the brilliance of the tale or it could be the absolute cruelty of having enjoyed something so much and knowing that there won’t be any more.
The writing itself is high-quality and the author does well at bringing the complex mixture of the character of the protagonist and his ‘host body for the day’ together. It’s always an interesting part of the narrative when his own thoughts are warring with that of the person he inhabits. A small, yet well-worked network of primary characters add greatly to the tale and a larger network of secondary and tertiary characters just add that extra flavour and realism to what could easily have been a bland, two-dimensional piece. With all of the these characters going about their day, and our main character getting to see this from multiple viewpoints and multiple times of day with said viewpoints, it really feels like a complete little world that is on the page rather than just a place we are told to believe is a complete world.
It’s hard to write a review for this book without giving too much away, but I will say that any potential reader should pay close attention to everything. This truly is one of those books where the old cliché of ‘everything happens for a reason’ genuinely means something. In this book, every little thing that happens may or may not have a direct impact on whether you can keep up with our protagonist in solving the riddle of Evelyn’s murder.
Not only is this one of the best books I have read in years, it is quite easily the best debut I have read. Certainly the most ambitious debut by any author I can think of. It was optioned for TV a year or so back, I can only pray that something comes of that.
To echo my thoughts of the first paragraph: Go buy it.