The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Author: Stuart Turton
Page Count: 430
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Original Publication Date: 2018
Genre(s): Mystery; Adult fiction; Thriller
The rules are as follows: Aiden Bishop will wake up in a different body every day until he can solve the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle. Eight hosts, eight days to find the killer. But there are others like Aiden at Blackheath — others who wake up day after day trying to solve the mystery as well. Because whoever solves the mystery first can escape the loop, and Aiden intends to be the victor. But who can he trust? Can he even trust himself, whoever that is, or any of his host bodies? Time is ticking.
The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is actually The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle in the UK. Thanks to Taylor Jenkins Reid and her wildly famous The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Turton was forced to slightly alter his own title, thus the ½. I find it hilarious that I actually ended up reading both of these novels at the same time this month, completely on accident. Although both books have been on my TBR for ages, somehow I picked up 7½ Deaths at the same moment Seven Husbands became available on Libby. I don’t know why, but I love this.
Despite their similar names, the two books are nothing alike. The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is like Groundhog Day meets Every Day with some Agatha Christie vibes thrown in. It’s told in first person POV from Aiden’s perspective, but Aiden isn’t really himself: he’s eight different people, repeating the same day over and over again within a different host body. There are so many characters in this novel, it can be hard to keep them all straight, I must admit. I only struggled with it for the first couple chapters, though—after that, I was fine. I’m used to reading novels with a million characters and even weird time loop-y plots, so I felt at home.
Though we never really “meet” the real Aiden, it’s easy to feel like you know him. His personality is the dominant one that shines through each host body, day after day. I may not have been able to connect with him, but I will say I admire him—I would never have been able to survive a minute trying to solve the murder, nor get anywhere close. Not to mention being chased by a killer and unsure who to trust. There’s a lot going on, but not necessarily in a bad way, and I personally didn’t find it too difficult to follow along.
As far as mysteries go, this one had me. I’ll be the first to admit I’m horrible at guessing mysteries and plot twists, so it’s unsurprising that this one had me shocked. There’s a lot more going on than you initially think and I liked that—it wasn’t just a straightforward “whodunnit.” I also should have spent some time pondering why this was happening to Aiden, as I think most readers will, but I didn’t. I was so caught up in trying to follow along with the host bodies and the clues that I didn’t for a second think of the bigger picture, so I was caught off-guard by that as well. Certainly a cool concept.
My only negative about the book is that it could have used a little more oomph. And by that, I’m not entirely sure what I mean, just that the story felt a little lacking to me. I found myself slightly bored at times and I felt zero emotional connection to Aiden. So although the mystery and intrigue kept me going, those two aspects kept trying to pull me back. Luckily the story was interesting enough for me to shove those negatives to the back of my brain and get through the story. Overall I really enjoyed the novel and think it’s a nice segue into my next (and final) spooky read, And Then There Were None. Same vibes, I think. Agatha Christie and all. So definitely check out this novel if you like murder mysteries with plenty of plot twists, but also if you like a bit of fantastical/science fiction-y undertones mixed in. Also time loops.