The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, by Stuart Turton

Stuart Turton, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, Raven Books (Bloomsbury publishing), February 2018

Aiden wakes up in an unknown forest and discovers that he is trapped in a time loop, in another person’s body. He has to solve a murder that is going to happen at the ball tonight on the Blackheath estate, but if he doesn’t succeed, he will relive the same day over and over again, each time in another guest’s body.

Click here for the French review.

The story: Aiden wakes up alone in a forest. He has no recollection of what happened to him, or even who he really is. Shortly after, he discovers that he is trapped in another man’s body, in what appears to be Blackheath castle.
He meets a very strange man, who seems to know a lot more about this place and situation than he wants to share with him. He basically tells him that he is trapped in a time loop, and that he will relive the same day over and over again, each time in the body of another guest of the house, until he finds out who is going to kill the young Evelyn Hardcastle at the ball tonight.

« 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. » (Chapter Ten)

« […] Davies will be your host for today, and when you wake up tomorrow, you’ll have another. That’s how this works.’
Il wasn’t a dream after all, it really happened. I lived the same day twice in the bodies of two different people. I talked to myself, berated myself and examined myself through somebody else’s eyes. » (Chapter Ten)

Aiden has exactly eight days to figure things out. But it appears that he is not the only soul trapped in this evil loop. Other « players » are on the hunt to find the truth first, but only one can escape Blackheath.

« There are two other people trapped in this house, wearing the bodies of guests and servants, just like you. Only one of  you can leave, and it will be whoever brings me the answer first. » (Chapter Ten)

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My review: I had never heard of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle before I watched a Canadian review on YouTube several weeks ago. Shortly after, I was in London for a couple of days, and I knew I had to buy this book, first of all because the plot was so unique and appealing, but also for the beauty of the book himself (can we take a moment and appreciate the hard work that Raven Books put into designing it, and this giant map of Blackheath that made me think of a Cluedo game)!
I was completely gripped by this crime/mystery/paranormal and somehow anticipation book. The concept of it is so incredibly unique. Each detail that you somehow don’t notice at first when you read this 500 pages book is deeply calculated to be a major clue for the end of the story.
I was so into this book that even when I was still reading it, I was already recommending it to all of my friends, family and colleagues.
If I had to briefly draw you a sketch of what The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is about, I would simply tell you: imagine Agatha Christie writing a book taking place in Downton Abbey, the plot being a giant Cluedo game.
Now tell me you’re not intrigued!
I loved that Aiden had to use all the capacities of his different hosts to put all the clues together and try to figure out what was really happening in this giant spider web. Each time Aiden was taking the body of a host, he also gained his qualities and flaws.

« ‘You were a doctor, » he says. ‘Then a butler, today a playboy, tomorrow a banker. None of them is your real face, or your real personality. Those were stripped from you when you entered Blackheath and they won’t be returned until you leave.’ » (Chapter Ten)

At first, he thought this was going to be a burden, but it really allowed him to view the same situations from different points of views and perspectives, which I found very interesting and unique, as the reader follows the story through Aiden’s eyes. This way, you are also a part of the investigations and, well, you can’t help yourself but suspect everybody!
Each time you think that you finally put things together and figured it out, you discover that it’s only the tip of the iceberg and, like an onion, you’re only beginning to strip it one layer after the other.
In my opinion, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle would make a great TV show, let’s pray for it really hard!!!

Ma rating: 

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