‘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…
Okay, so how do I even review this book? The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle was probably my most anticipated read this year. The moment I came across that blurb, I knew I needed to read this book. I’m a big fan of the whole Groundhog Day premise and I already talked about my love for Before I Fall on the blog. Happy Death Day was also one of my favorite films last year, so Seven Deaths was high on my list. And it was a murder mystery! What more could I ask for?
I admit it, as much as I ended up loving this book, my relationship with Seven Deaths didn’t start off that well. I don’t know if anyone else had the same issue with the Netgalley format, but my ebook file was a mess. Random 0s and 1s all over the pages, no capital letters, paragraph breaks that made no sense… it was hard to follow. And if you take into account that the actual plot isn’t the easiest to understand, you can imagine my confusion. I almost gave up before I even reached 10%. But. The idea was awesome and it seemed like such a cool story, so didn’t it deserve a bit of an effort? Yes. So I kept on reading…
At first, I remember thinking: what is this even about? For the first 20%, I had no idea where the story was going. I didn’t understand anything, there were too many characters and the Agatha Christie character guide would’ve been useful if I had been reading the hardback or paperback version (no, of course my format didn’t allow me to go back to the beginning!). And who the hell was Anna? Wasn’t this book about Evelyn? Who are these creepy evil characters? But you know that moment when you realize you’re actually enjoying a weird book? I knew I was beginning to like this novel… And for sure I wanted to know what was going on!
And the more I read, the more I loved it. I couldn’t stop. No, I didn’t understand half of what was going on, but I no longer cared. I loved how this book messed with my mind. It’s my favorite feeling in the world. And I had to continue reading. It wasn’t only about the high-concept plot and the promise of a mind-blowing puzzle. I also really liked the main character, Aiden Bishop, and I was rooting for him. I wanted him to escape Blackheath. But he was so stubborn! Oh, how he made me suffer…
I deeply admire Stuart Turton’s work here. He has created such a complex and unique novel, I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like Seven Deaths. I’m sure no book has ever made me feel like this one. It’s not an easy read and it’s definitely not for everyone, but I’ve never been happier that I decided to keep on reading. This was very different from all the other Groundhog Day stories I’ve read or watched. Stuart Turton took it one step further. And I’m glad.
By the time I reached the conclusion, I felt like I was watching an episode of Black Mirror. I had read that some people were disappointed with the ending, but I enjoyed the case resolution (so Agatha Christie!!!) and I really loved the world created by the author and the way he answered all the questions about Blackheath.
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a truly original and mind-blowing novel that could easily become a cult classic.
Netgalley, Bloomsbury, 2018