The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a novel that I heard a lot about in the run up to its publication earlier this month, and it was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. Not only did this novel not disappoint, it also blew my (already high) expectations out of the water.
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…
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is one of those books that it’s best to approach without knowing too much, and so I won’t go into the plot in any detail. And, if I’m being completely honest, this novel is so wonderfully complex that even if I tried to explain it, I’m not sure that it would make much sense.
Set in the house and grounds of Blackheath, the Hardcastles are throwing a lavish ball to welcome home their daughter, Evelyn. The old country manor, the well to do guests and their servants give this novel a golden age mystery feel, and yet this is quite unlike any classic whodunnit (or indeed any whodunnit) as Aiden, our protagonist, will experience the same day over and over until he can work out who is behind Evelyn’s murder.
His task is made more difficult by the fact that each day he wakes up in the body of a different attendee of the ball. His hosts cover a broad cast of characters, and each has their own strengths and weaknesses for Aiden to work with. Whilst the idea of seeing the same unfold repeatedly might seem as though it would become repetitive, it isn’t. Each day, Aiden gets to see the same events, but through a different set of eyes and from a different perspective. Whilst this answers some questions, it often poses many others, and Turton keeps both Aiden and the reader on their toes by constantly challenging what you thought you knew, and I loved that, throughout the novel, the reader knows exactly as much (or as little) as Aiden does.
The mystery at the heart of the novel is incredibly complex, and it’s one that, now I’ve finished it, I want to go back to the start and read it again. It’s complicated, yet ultimately rewarding, and I found this to be an utterly addictive read and an incredibly accomplished debut.
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐