Book Review: The 71/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle y Stuart Turton

The 71/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Stuart Turton
The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
My rating: 3 stars 🌟🌟🌟
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

I was SO ready to get my murder board going and game this thing out. 

I'm going to be an outlier here. I didn't love this. I love many of the devices applied but this just didn't come together in a way I found an enjoyable whole. So why 3.5 stars? Because I could not put this thing down. I was driven to know why all of this was happening. That helped me get through this in about two days and for that I'm grateful. 

The beginning did grab me and I immediately found the Plague Doctor a very interesting character with pithy lines that made me smile and he remained so throughout. Sadly, he's not our main character so there's a lot of time with Aiden as he body hops into various hosts (guests at the party) to solve the killing of Evelyn Hardcastle. Spoiler: everyone is a nasty piece of work and this takes on a Mad Hatter's teaparty feel before too long. But the interesting melts into a puddle of overwrought meh before 40% in and that holds until about the last 20% at which point, I'd long ceased to care about any of the characters or their liberation from this place. 

The most interesting thing to happen was to find out what Blackheath is but trust me on this, by the time it's revealed, it's more "Obvs!" and less "Whoa." (LOST, I'm sorry I ever shaded you! I love you still!). Additionally, there's never an explanation of the mechanism used to allow all this body-hopping or time streams. I'm a Whovian so I'd have accepted a "wibbly-wobbly time-y-wimey" thing but I needed something. Then Silver Tear drops in and... it doesn't even matter (and neither ultimately, does the murderous footman). Nevermind. From that point on it's boulders falling and tying off threads with a narrative feel of "let's just get this over with". The revelation of Anna's past and Aiden's decisions regarding her were just one more thing on the pile of "Yes, yes, got it. A bit bizarre. Wish I cared. Next!" 

So, did this hit the mark as a country house mystery a la Dame Christie? In a word, no.  The only characters I'll recall at all well from this will be the Plague Doctor (Oliver) and Lord Ravencourt (who was very clever & observant; and who because of his weight, Aiden found more repulsive to inhabit than a rapist). 

In media likes, there are lots of elements of things I do love, LOST, Gosford Park, Christie's And Then There Were None, Doctor Who, FlashForward and more I'm sure. This book wanted to be all the things but missed the marks for me. If I'm not going to get characters I care about (not like, mind), then I need a world build so fascinating that it makes up for it. I found neither here. I'm going neutral on recommend. 

Spoiler (highlight to read)Evelyn only dies once and it was completely deserved. She kills seven people along the way & almost one more... 7 & 1/2 perhaps?

Summary: 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...

The most inventive debut of the year twists together a mystery of such unexpected creativity it will leave readers guessing until the very last page.

No comments