Title: The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Author: Stuart Turton
Publication Date: September 18, 2018
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Date Started: November 18, 2018
Date Finished: November 25, 2018
I chose to read this book during the N.E.W.T.s read-a-thon to count as my “Outstanding” score for History of Magic. The prompt: a book with more than 400 pages. At 438, this book exceeds that.
I was so excited for this book. So freaking excited. It sounded so good and had such an interesting concept, I was ready to love this book. And then I started reading it, and it all went downhill from there.
The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (or just 7 deaths if you are not in the USA) follows the day of a party in which at 11pm Evelyn will be murdered. Aiden Bishop must solve her murder, and gets to relive the day eight times as eight different people in order to do so.
Such a cool concept.
Except it wasn’t.
Let me start by explaining what I liked, before I launch into my complaints.
What I liked:
- Experiencing the day of the murder from multiple perspectives. This is a tactic not commonly seen in mystery thrillers anymore where the same scene plays out again and again to show ever more detail regarding the mystery. The way the day was presented in this book worked quite well, as each day was unique enough and the characters so distinct that each day felt new and didn’t become repetitive, even though the same events happened over and over again.
- The story of the murder. I found the whole story surrounding the Hardcastles leading up to and including the resolution of the murder fascinating. It was fun (as much fun as a murder can be) and I really enjoyed that half of the story.
What I didn’t like:
- The meta story. While the story of the murder was interesting, the story behind how and why Aiden is reliving the day over and over was trying way too hard. It wasn’t interesting, the character development didn’t make sense, and really detracted from the overall story. I didn’t enjoy that at all. It felt like the author was trying to be clever, but he really wasn’t. If this book had left out Aiden’s story altogether and just presented the murder from eight different view points, I would have enjoyed this book far more.
- The story was too complicated. There were a lot of moving pieces in this book. Far too many if you ask me. The mark of a perfect mystery is one that just a detail or two leads to that giant AH HA moment and everything clicks into place in an elegant fashion. Not here. If I had been really into it, I could have filled an entire chalkboard with the details important to keep everything straight and solve the murder. I’m sure the author had one. There would be lines crossing everywhere and a bazillion important details coming off of each character. It was just too much. Every piece of dialogue throughout the entirety of the 400+ pages came to be important in the end. So much mental energy I will never regain…..
- The fat shaming. Okay, seriously, this wasn’t necessary. One of the characters in the book is morbidly obese, but the way Turton describes him in the book is disgraceful. I’m not going to list the offenses here, but check out a list made by Mikayla is Reading. This really made it hard to read not only that character, but the complete lack of such disgust for a rapist in the book made most of this book unpalatable. Seriously written by a skinny, white man.
And there you have it. This could have been such a great book, but left me feeling bitter instead.
Overall, 2/5 moose