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

Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m.
There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit.
We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer.
Understood? Then let’s begin…
***
Evelyn Hardcastle 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. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others.
For fans of Claire North and Kate Atkinson, The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a breathlessly addictive novel that follows one man’s race against time to find a killer— but an astonishing time-turning twist means that nothing and no one are quite what they seem.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Omg. Where do I even begin with this book?! If you haven’t read it yet, you need to. It’s that good.

First off, you need to know that I do not like thrillers (and to a lesser degree, mysteries). I think in the past several years, I’ve read just one thriller that I can think of, which was The Girl on the Train, and I hated it. The genre seems to be full of mediocre to bad writing, relies on gimmicks and cheap surprises which are usually predictable, and/or there’s usually a level of fucked-uppery that I just cannot get on board with – excessive drug use, abusive relationships, gruesome murders, the worst kinds of people, poorly-written supernatural stuff, you get the idea. And also, I hate the sense of dread that accompanies the story…I don’t want to feel dread when I’m reading, I want to feel anticipation or excitement! Thrillers just seem to pool together all the bad, depressing, dark stuff that I don’t like.

OKAY mini rant aside 😆 Despite this book being a page-turning thriller/mystery hybrid, I LOVED it. The most important thing to know about it is that it’s hella confusing. Aiden Bishop, the main character, wakes up in a different body every day until he’s able to solve the murder at hand. (What a great premise) Not only do you get completely different sets of clues each in-book day, but the narrative also jumps back and forth across time and character perspectives, so there’s a certain disorientation you have to get used to while reading it. It’s super confusing for the first quarter of the book, then things slowly start to come together as you continue, and you can build common ties across POVs.

So that’s the main detraction from the book, but I’d definitely argue it shouldn’t put you off from reading it altogether. The writing is fantastic! I literally don’t remember the last time I was THIS enthralled by a book, pushed on by a sense of sheer urgency to keep reading and find out what really happened to Evelyn. I couldn’t put it down, I skipped meals to keep reading, I stayed up late and way past my regular hours to finish it. So dramatic but that’s the level of obsession we’re dealing with here. It just smashed through all my usual notions of thrillers and showed me how freaking good the genre can be when done right.

When I got close to the end, I worried that the reveal couldn’t possibly be satisfying enough to do the rest of the book justice. But, oh, I needn’t have feared. Let me just say that the ending is solid and after finishing, I let out a huge breath of relief/shock/”holy shit what did I just read that was so good”.

All in all? Yeah, you need to read this book. You can’t put it down from the very first page, and I’ve been raving about it to everyone who’ll listen. I’m still in awe that this was Stuart Turton’s debut novel and am absolutely reading whatever the man publishes next!

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