The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton #BookReview

‘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…

I've read some wonderful books in 2018 and The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle has definitely been up there with the best so it's a fitting way to end my reviews for this year. I actually read it back in August but procrastination is my middle name (it's not, it's Louise - my parents weren't actually gifted with the benefit of foresight) and so it's taken me a while but I really couldn't end the year without sharing my thoughts about this fabulous novel.
That gorgeous front cover and the description led me to believe I'd be reading a novel which could have been written during the Golden Age of crime fiction but while it definitely pays homage to the likes of Agatha Christie, this is no mere pastiche. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is undoubtedly a fiendishly complex murder mystery but as the story progressed, the true nature of the book is revealed and it could just as easily be described as chilling dystopian fiction as a crime novel.
A book as clever as this one isn't the easiest to review as I really don't want to give too much away, I can, however, say that the complex labyrinth of a plot entangled me completely and I raced through the pages as invested in uncovering the truth as poor Aiden Bishop who is tasked with the seemingly impossible job of solving the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle. His Sisyphean ordeal is perhaps one of the most disturbing ideas I can ever remember reading, with a premise that I found unsettling and deeply claustrophobic.
The twisted storyline is breathtakingly compelling and is complemented by the superbly rendered characters, particularly the different guests that Aiden must inhabit as he tries to discover who is responsible for killing Evelyn. Each one has a distinct personality yet they also bear traces of Aiden's own persona as he desperately tries to figure out the truth about the murder while also attempting to make sense of who he really is and why he is in what can only be described as a hellish existence. As the novel progresses and he begins to understand more about what is happening, he realises he must use each guest's particular attributes carefully in order to gain an advantage over whoever it is keeping him imprisoned in this way. He needs to work out just who he can trust in this house full of dark secrets and dangerous people including the sinister Plague Doctor who seems to know at least some of the rules of this mysterious game - but even he can't predict every outcome. Aiden must also confront his conflicted feelings about Evelyn - who is allowed to be far more than just the poor victim here  - as he grows to like her but realises that if he is able to prevent her murder he may condemn himself to an inescapable fate.
I can happily admit to being frequently baffled by this glorious puzzle of a book but it's so tantalising structured that I willingly gave in to it and just let the storyline unfold until gradually I began to understand more and could figure out how events were linked. There are still plenty of twists and red herrings even after it does start to make sense, of course - Stuart Turton was never going to let this fizzle out with a simple explanation. I will undoubtedly read it again and with the benefit of hindsight look forward to noticing clues I may have missed the first time around.
I can't wait to read what Stuart Turton writes next after this extraordinary debut; The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is the sort of bold, risk-taking that I love to see in novels and it will come as no surprise when I say that it was one of my reading highlights this year.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is published in the UK by Raven Books and can be purchased from the following;
 Amazon UK
Google Play

About the Author
Stuart is the author of a high-concept crime novel and lives in London with his amazing wife, and drinks lots of tea.

What else?

When he left university he went travelling for three months and stayed away for five years. Every time his parents asked when he’d be back he told them next week, and meant it.

Stuart is not to be trusted. In the nicest possible way.  

He’s got a degree in English and Philosophy, which makes him excellent at arguing and terrible at choosing degrees. Having trained for no particular career, he has dabbled in most of them. He stocked shelves in a Darwin bookshop, taught English in Shanghai, worked for a technology magazine in London, wrote travel articles in Dubai, and now he’s a freelance journalist. None of this was planned, he just kept getting lost on his way to other places.

He likes a chat. He likes books. He likes people who write books and people who read books. He doesn’t know how to write a biography, so should probably stop before we start talking about his dreams or something. It was lovely to meet you, though.

Stuart's debut novel, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, was published in 2018 by Bloomsbury.
Twitter  Website 


  1. I'm wondering if there will be a sequel with the way that ended - because I wanted so much more! I wanted to know more about Aiden and the "before", and about the plague doctor.
    Rebecca @ The Portsmouth Review

    1. I'd love a sequel! I've read he's not currently planning to write one though and his next book is completely different. I've heard him give a talk and he said he planned the entire day out in two-minute intervals with post-it notes and spreadsheets so it's probably no wonder he needs a change!
      Thanks for stopping by today and leaving a comment! :)


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