Warning: If you haven’t read “The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle” by Stuart Turton, be warned that there will be spoilers in this review, and don’t read this review unless you don’t mind them!
I’m back with another book review, and this time it’s “The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle” by Stuart Turton! It’s been a while since I read a mystery-themed book, so I thought this would be fun to pick up. Here’s the summary so we know what it’s about:
“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…”
Before we proceed with the review, here’s something interesting to note before we start: If you see a book called “The 7 1/2 deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle” by the same author, it’s the same book content-wise. They just had to change the title because of copyright issues when distributing the book to USA, as explained on the goodreads page for this book.
All the characters were all very interesting and it was cool to see how Aiden felt or observed when inhabiting the others (especially his first host, Bell, and one of his later hosts, Derby). It was also fun to see how all of them were connected to each other and it’s fair to say all of them were pretty vital to the story because of that.
Speaking of Aiden, our protagonist of this book, I really REALLY liked Aiden overall. Despite the craziness going on in this book, he’s incredibly selfless and trying to do the right thing. Even when the other two trapped in Blackheath in the same time-loop situation as him started going to more desperate measures, he still tried to keep a level head (as level as he could, given everything going on) and did his best to help not just himself get out of there, but also Anna in particular. I love how Aiden is observant of the bodies of everyone he inhabits. He literally can feel their inner traits and in a way acts as a conscience for them.
Aiden and Anna’s romance/friendship was pretty interesting to read. It’s hard to tell if it’s tiptoeing towards romance for sure, but I think it was heading there close to the end of the book. I love how Aiden just never gave up on Anna, even after finding out about all the past heinous things she did prior to coming to Blackheath. Anna also never gave up on trying help Aiden, even when he had his few moments of doubt (no thanks to the Plague Doctor interfering with them both).
The worldbuilding of the book, as well as the characters themselves, bring about an overall theme or message that people are capable of getting better, but it’s a matter of whether you really want to believe they can or not (especially in the case of the Plague Doctor not really being okay with Anna being potentially redeemed despite her clearly changing for the better by the present events of the book).
Though the plotline can be pretty complex as Aiden is jumping from body to body that he hosts, it’s made actually easy to keep track of who he’s in if you pay attention to each day that Aiden is currently stuck in, because each day has a specific host attached to them. I like how that complex, otherwise-potentially-confusing part was clarified in that way.
The overall worldbuilding is something that’s built on chapter by chapter and you have to read carefully to understand the gist of it, with most if not all of it coming together by late in the book. Without giving away too many spoilers, Blackheath has become a rehab center for really bad people where you combine the groundhog day loop (where you live the day over and over again) and murder. I won’t elaborate as of how it got that way or any further details here or else I’ll spoil even more than I’ve spoiled. Let it be known, however, that the execution of this worldbuilding was really well written. Plot twists were really well-written overall, also.
Overall, 5 out of 5 stars! If you love some in-depth worldbuilding accompanied by tons of plot twists, this is definitely a murder mystery I’d recommend reading!