The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

At last, I’ve done it: I’ve successfully completed one of the two famous “Seven Evelyns.” The other, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, continues to look plaintively at me from my TBR shelf. Like, how does this even happen that two titles are this similar? Do all the marketing people in publishing gather round and sacrifice a goat to an all-seeing algorithm, waiting for it to spit out titles worthy of doing the rounds on BookTube? Is this how we keep ending up with all those “thing” titles?

The pitch for Turton’s debut novel is essentially Clue meets Groundhog’s Day. The MC, Aiden Bishop, is charged with stopping a murder that is going to take place at Blackheath Estate, but he is a displaced spirit only, cycling between the bodies of eight hosts who all have different strengths, weaknesses, and personalities. For me, it was the interplay of personality between Aiden and his hosts that sealed the book as good; we watch as Aiden goads on cowardly hosts, restrains violent hosts, and everything in between.

That being said, I did feel like there were just quite a lot of other non-host characters—enough that it got hard to keep them straight. I think this might not be an issue if you binge-read the book, but I read this book over the span of a couple weeks. Every time I came back to it I had to reintroduce myself to everyone, making full use of the character list at the front of the book.

Something else worth mentioning is that this book is the prime example of characters saying “I can’t talk about that right now because reasons.” Honestly, I’m not sure if anything can be done about that given the unique premise and story structure, but all the same it was a bit frustrating. Nevertheless, the fascinating host characters and the strong writing kept me moving forward in the story.

I think a lot of people are wondering if there will be a sequel to this book, either with the same structure or following Aiden Bishop wherever he goes next. In vague, non-spoiler terms, I do wish we got to know more about what happens after. (I also realize how semi-ridiculous it is to want this to be a series, given the amount of series I have yet to finish.) Yet I also have to begrudgingly appreciate an ending that gives the book a standalone feel, yet is still ambiguous. Maybe Turton should just leave things where they are and keep us guessing—the book’s a mystery, after all, so why not leave readers with some cool questions to ponder?

2 thoughts on “The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

  1. I didn’t love this, but respected the intricacies of the plot (and how much effort it took for the author to come up with all of them — must’ve had a huge diagram on his desk!). Definitely read Evelyn Hugo though — it’s totally different and I loved it. (BTW originally it was 7 deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle and then Hugo came out so they had to change it. hah.)

    Liked by 1 person

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