Book reviews by Mobilism's Book Review team
May 28th, 2020, 12:27 pm

TITLE: The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
AUTHOR: Stuart Turton
GENRE: Fiction
RATING: ★★★★☆


Description: There are three rules of Blackheath House:
    01. Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m.
    02. There are eight days and eight witnesses for you to inhabit.
    03. We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer.
Understood? Then let's begin...

Evelyn Hardcastle will die. She 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. Some of his hosts are helpful, and others only operate on a need to know basis.

Review: My best friend started talking about this book. From that moment onwards, I wanted to know whatever happened to that Miss Hardcastle - but there is way more than the plot within this book.

For starters, an obvious detail. Trying to find a copy on the internet I noticed that the American and the English covers had an interesting difference. In the American one, she died… a little more. That only made me even more curious about the plot already and when you open the book you find a map of an old mansion called Blackheath House.

It kind of reminded me of the epic game Cluedo (aka, Clue in North America) plus Agatha Christie in another dimension. I was hooked by the story's mysterious gothic vibe.

My friend told me it was about this main character named Aiden Bishop who happens to wake up in the body of another person. Actually 8 different bodies and he does not remember much. He’s been attacked and has found refuge at this old mansion where they are getting ready to hold a ball. He has to live through the same day as the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle with each character. Immediately the story's setting, the included map, the characters, the mystery-solving task… This all would make for an epic videogame. And then it gets more complicated.

There are other hosts also trying to solve this murder. Whoever does report the name of the killer and why he/she/they did it will escape from this universe. And there are rules -- quite some rules. Some to be broken, some to be respected. He is also being chased by a so-called hunter and if he gets discovered and killed, he loses that precious time with the character he then inhabits and he will feel that pain for real but hey… it’s all in the game. And there’s more, plenty more.

You will find yourself immersed in this parallel reality (the detailed descriptions help a lot with the reader's immersion!) trying to find plot holes because believe me, the narrative gets intense. It is not only about who did it but why you are trapped in there as well.

I forgot to mention that our main man has a female sidekick named Ana. We spend most of the time wondering whether she is good or a baddie… You can’t trust anybody -- or can you? Plus, she does not get to be a host and you start asking yourself again why not. Which rules apply to who? The questions keep on piling up. Lost already? Well… If Aiden doesn’t find out who did it HE HAS TO START ALL OVER AGAIN!

The plot definitely thickens. What demented person will put another person through this? That was one of the main reasons I kept on reading.

We started theorizing about what was the mystery behind this girls’ death before even starting to read the book and unfortunately, I happened to guess what was that about. I remember telling her I hope it is not like… (don’t worry it wasn’t the butler) and it turns out it is exactly like that. However, there are more questions I needed to answer and that was better than solving the actual crime. It was like the ultimate escape room from another dimension.

All in all, I liked plenty of things such as the multi-character point of view, the detailed map, the time it was set in, the fact that I could read it not in one go but also character by character each time I managed to find some freedom to read. Also, the diverse descriptions for the characters and the place that make you feel within that universe, the nice reflections on vital and diverse topics such as friendship, trust, or punishment. It would definitely be really great to see this novel become a film (as my friend suggests) or even a videogame. When I finished reading The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle I was reminded of a certain Black Mirror episode. No, I won’t say which episode.

There is one particular quote from the book that I have retained (I guess it was a reference to that one from O. Wilde):
“Nothing like a mask to reveal somebody’s true nature.”

Other quotes worth mentioning:
‘Perhaps,’ says Hardcastle, ‘but I’ve read my Dante, Philip. Not all hells are created equal.

If this isn’t hell, the devil is surely taking notes.

How lost do you have to be to let the devil lead you home?

‘What does a child who has everything want?’ More, just like everybody else.

But there were other great quotes that you will find in your own sweet time. The book is also available in many other languages! A mystery-solving treat that I definitely recommend.

Thank you, Stuart Turton!
May 28th, 2020, 12:27 pm
May 29th, 2020, 3:35 am
I really enjoyed this book, kept me guessing at every turn!
May 29th, 2020, 3:35 am
Jun 16th, 2020, 4:28 am
It was one hell of a roller-coaster ride for me. Thoroughly enjoyed it. never read something like this before.
Jun 16th, 2020, 4:28 am
Jun 24th, 2020, 4:05 pm
I've listened to the audiobook version 5 times since I downloaded it almost a year ago. I can't think of another audiobook I've listened to even twice! There's something about the storyline and the voice of the narrator that keeps drawing me back. It has become one of my favorite books. (I was also a big fan of the movie Momento.)
Jun 24th, 2020, 4:05 pm