“Too little information and you’re blind, too much and you’re blinded.”
The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle takes us on one hell of a journey with Aiden Bishop, a man who is given the task of finding the murderer of Evelyn Hardcastle. The catch? He has until 11:00 pm and must inhabit eight different bodies in order to do it. Every day, Aiden will relive the same day for eight days in a different body each day. Once he finds the killer, he will be freed of Blackheath’s endless loop. If not, he must start over once again.
Author Stuart Turton gave readers an intriguing take reminiscent of the 1993 movie, Groundhog Day. Mixed in with some time travel, readers are forced to keep track of Aiden’s movements as he goes from body to body, learning important clues and evidence that could lead to Evelyn’s murderer.
This book is not a light read. One must be committed and entirely focused on the words between the pages. Readers are just as confused as our main character Aiden. As the plot becomes clearer, it gets vaguer. There are many subplots and characters with double agendas. Again, it is extremely important to keep track of character movements; I found sticky notes to be very helpful.
The writing was good. Not great, but good enough to be engaged and to keep reading. The characters were enjoyable. They were so different and I liked how they were able to influence Aiden’s actions when he inhabited them. I thought that was a fascinating notion. I also liked how the chapters were structured, though it could be hard to follow in the beginning. The downfall of this book is its complexity. The rules of Blackheath’s endless loop are explained as the story moves along, but it can be questionable and hard to keep up. This made the book unenjoyable to read sometimes. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to read a murder mystery and be confused ninety percent of the time. I would like the chance to follow the breadcrumbs, put pieces together and maybe come up with a list of potential murderers. Turton does not give us that chance.
The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle started off strong but became too complex and confusing towards the middle. There was a clever surprise that I did not see coming in the end, and I really enjoyed that. But it was an immediate let down once you find out the reason for Evelyn’s murder. All the loose strings left throughout the book were brought together in a lackluster ending that could have been so much more. I understand why it took Turton three years to write this book. It is not a story an author could write in a couple weeks. This was an intricate and extremely detailed and I commend Stuart Turton for being able to come up with it and complete it.
Would I recommend this book to people? Maybe, it depends on if the person is willing to suffer through headaches while reading.
Rating: 3/5 stars