The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (aka 7 1/2 Deaths), Review (2022)

Stuart Turton’s debut novel The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle(or The7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle in the US & Canada) is the original high-concept murder mystery being described as Gosford Park meets Inception, by way of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. Read my full review.

5 minutes

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle Synopsis

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (aka 7 1/2 Deaths), Review (1)

‘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…

(Video) The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle: A Spoiler Free Review

(Raven Books – Bloomsbury Publishing UK & ANZ, February 2018)

This novel will be published in the US and Canada by Sourcebooks in September 2018, but sold as The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.

Genre:Thriller, Mystery, Crime-Detective, Literature, Historical, Sci-Fi-Fantasy

Disclosure: If you click a link in this post and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission.

BOOK REVIEW

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastlehas been in all the ‘Must Read Books of 2018’ lists. And now I understand all the hype. It sits firmly in the genre-bending category, and thus most avid readers will find it memorable.

This story concept is audacious, sure. And, a debut novelist with lofty ambitions excites this reader. But this author’s first offering is not just a genre mash-up seeking renegade status. Stuart Turton has delivered one of the more refined and nuanced melding of genres I have read. We are not talking quite at the level of David Mitchell just yet, but certainly well on his way…

There has been much said about the mind-boggling complexity of the plot with its time-loops within time-loops (Hardcastle’s seven lives), and the eye-for-detail and planning required to pull off this feat, which I’ll touch on shortly. And I very much admired Turton’s vivid imagery,

Framed mirrors line the walls, a wide staircase with an ornate railing sweeping up towards a gallery, a narrow red carpet flowing down the steps like the blood of some slaughtered animal.

dry and humorous simile and metaphor,

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The clothes are silk, beautifully tailored but tugging and pinching like a roomful of elderly aunts.

and lyrical writing style.

A clock drums up its courage and ticks. With a grunt, Stanwin releases the maid, brushing past Daniel on his way out, muttering something I can’t quite hear. The room breathes, the piano resumes, the heroic clock carrying on as though nothing happened.

Intricate plot, literary prose

But, most impressive for me was how, alongside a technically intricate plot with a hefty dose of fatalism, he engenders such atmospheric tension and suspense.

In addition to literary quality prose, two authorial decisions are key to this success, (1) Turton’s use of a first-person present-tense narrative, and (2) his recurring and artful anthropomorphization of the story environment.

The narrative choice is particularly compelling (and a high degree of difficulty for the author) when applied to a plot featuring time loops akin to Russian dolls and selective memory loss.

As a reviewer, on many occasions, I have noted that a story’s setting became a character in and of itself, but Turton has taken a very direct approach to achieving that goal.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (aka 7 1/2 Deaths), Review (2)

At first, I considered this personification whimsical and charming, but by the novel’s end, I had added ‘very clever’ to that assessment.

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Earlier I committed what many consider a sin when reviewing a debut novel… I made a comparison to the work of a long-standing literary bestselling author. It was primarily intended as a compliment, but also to help identify that special ingredient I felt was missing, why for me it was not yet worthy of my 5 Star rating. And the answer is clarity and gravitas, the two going hand in hand.

High on ambition

The truly great stories, the modern classics, resonate strongly on multiple levels. It is in this respect I felt Turton’s execution fell a little short of ambition.

The story in the foreground, the murder mystery and seven lives time loop construct, is meticulously crafted but there are so many characters involved. The removal of just one or two of these could have improved (and considerably shortened) this 528-page novel — making The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle a less labour-intensive read.

Albeitthrough the filter of multiple host personalities, Turton steadily develops his central character and offers up poignant musings on human behaviour.

Anger’s solid, it has weight. You can beat your fists against it. Pity’s a fog to become lost within.

But when one zooms out a step further, for me the story becomes less robust.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is charming yet not for the squeamish; a novel for those with a penchant for detail and complexity at a micro-level but who are comfortable with a more relaxed approach to the metaphysical realm. An impressive debut from Stuart Turton, an author I look forward to reading more from in the future.

BOOK RATING:The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4.5 / 5 — Overall Rating 4.25 / 5

Get your copy of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle(aka 7 1/2 Deaths) from:

Bookshop US Amazon Book Depository Booktopia AU
OR listen to the audiobook FREE with Audible’s Trial (check eligibility)

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UPDATE: Stuart Turton’s second novel The Devil and The Dark Water is just wonderful, a five-star must-read.

More intense mysteries:
Shiver by Allie Reynolds / The Ice Child by Camilla Lackberg / The Safe Place by Anna Downes / The Island by Adrian McKinty / Doom Creek by Alan Carter

About the Author, Stuart Turton

Stuart Turton is a freelance travel journalist who has previously worked in Shanghai and Dubai. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is his debut novel. He is the winner of the Brighton and Hove Short Story Prize and was longlisted for the BBC Radio 4 Opening Lines competition. He lives in West London with his wife.Connect with Stuart on Twitter.

More reviews of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

“Prepare to have your brain fried and your mind blown by an ingenious novel that catapults you into a parallel universe where dark magic and mayhem play out on a murderous Groundhog Day.” –Express

“Turton’s The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a brainy, action-filled sendup of the classic mystery, though readers may be hard-pressed to keep up with all its keenly calibrated twists and turns for more than 400 pages.” – Kirkus Reviews

“I take my hat off to Stuart Turton for the most original read I have read for a long time.” – CleopatraLovesBooks

“This is one of those books that you need to read and experience first-hand to get a grasp of how truly brilliant it is. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a work of art, cleverly plotted, intricately woven, absorbing and ingenious.” – The Tattooed Book Geek

This review counts towards my participation in the New Release Challenge 2018.

* My receiving a copy of this novel fromthe publisher via NetGalley for review purposes did not impact the expression of my honest opinions in the review above.

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FAQs

What is the difference between the 7 deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle? ›

Stuart Turton There's no difference in terms of the story - the US version (7 1/2 Deaths) will have US spellings, etc, but everything else will be the same. It will have a slightly different cover, an entirely different map and guest list though.

What should I read if I liked The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle? ›

Books Like The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
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27 Dec 2021

What genre is the seven and a half deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle? ›

A murder mystery novel inspired by Agatha Christie with a dash of Groundhog Day and a hint of Quantum Leap and Downton Abbey.

What happens in the 7 1 2 deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle? ›

She killed her father and her mother, but accidentally killed her brother. Anna and Aiden confront her and Evelyn's body double comes in and kills Evelyn. Anna gives the answer and she and Aiden are released to a new life that they will have to live. With memories they will not remember.

Why do book titles change in different countries? ›

When books are published internationally, it's not uncommon for the titles to be changed depending on the audience. This makes sense from the point of view from the publishing industry, but it can be confusing for readers. They often know and love a book by a specific title, or book cover.

Who is the footman in the seven deaths? ›

Disc-One Final Boss: For the majority of the book The Footman is implied to be the third person stuck in the loop, but it's actually Daniel Coleridge. The Footman is just a murderer he's hired to act as a smoke screen.

What should I read if I like Stuart Turton? ›

Head over to the group to find out what February's book will be and join in on our community conversations.
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Is the seven deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle a series? ›

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (TV Series) - IMDb.

How lost do you have to be to let the devil guide you home? ›

“How lost do you have to be to let the devil lead you home? This lost, I decide. Precisely this lost.

Why is it called 7.5 deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle? ›

Then there's The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, a Stuart Turton novel renamed The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle in the States because, apparently, Americans die more frequently.

Who is the footman in the seven deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle? ›

CHFIRST NAMELAST NAME
8TheFootman
10DonaldDavies
GraceDavies
JimRashton
37 more rows

What did Annabelle Caulker do? ›

Aiden Bishop wanted vengeance and exact further punishment on a vile murderer, Annabelle Caulker who tortured and murdered his sister Juliette.

What are the 7 and a half deaths? ›

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (published in United States as The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle) is a novel by Stuart Turton which won the Best First Novel prize in the 2018 Costa Book Awards and reached number one on The Saturday Times Bestseller list and number five on The Sunday Times Bestseller list.

Who dies in the 7 1 2 deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle? ›

About The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

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.

Can a book have two titles? ›

A short (non-historical) answer: two titles or a compound title like "Varney the Vampire - Feud of Blood" can be used in a (intended) series for its recognition value. Otherwise it has often the opposite effect: remembering a book title becomes harder.

Are UK books smaller? ›

US Hardcover sizes vary widely. They are used for premium fiction and non-fiction, and mostly by publishing firms. Royals are UK hardcover standards used for novels and nonfiction. They are larger than other UK standard sizes.

Why do some books have multiple covers? ›

Usually publishers add a little something in the book when they release a new edition. For example, a new introduction written by the author or another author, illustrations, anniversary sticker on the cover, and unseen archive material like in this book above.

When was the seven deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle published? ›

Is the seven husbands of Evelyn Hugo a good read? ›

"The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo" is still one of the best books I've ever read and one that I regularly recommend to my friends. Deeply enthralling, slightly devastating, and compulsively unputdownable, this is the perfect read for anyone looking to get lost in an incredible book.

What books are similar to the love hypothesis? ›

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What's the plot of it ends with us? ›

It Ends with Us is a book that follows a girl named Lily who has just moved and is ready to start her life after college. Lily then meets a guy named Ryle and she falls for him. As she is developing feelings for Ryle, Atlas, her first love, reappears and challenges the relationship between Lily and Ryle.

How many words is The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle? ›

by Stuart Turton
(about 534 pages) 133,607 total words 90th PERCENTILE of all the books in our library57.16% vividness 81st PERCENTILE of all the books in our library
2.79% all adverbs 40th PERCENTILE of all the books in our library1.06% ly-adverbs 57th PERCENTILE of all the books in our library

Is The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle a series? ›

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (TV Series) - IMDb.

What did Annabelle Caulker do? ›

Aiden Bishop wanted vengeance and exact further punishment on a vile murderer, Annabelle Caulker who tortured and murdered his sister Juliette.

What year is the 7 1 2 deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle set in? ›

Set in a 1920s country house, this unique coupling of a classic house party murder mystery with a supernatural/speculative foundation is a brilliant first novel.

Who is Anna in the 7 1 2 deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle? ›

CHFIRST NAMEDESCRIPTION
1AnnaGirl who was trapped in Blackheath. Aka: Anna Belle Caulker.
AidenProtagonist.
2SebastianOne of the guests in Hardcastle's party.
DanielProfessional gambler,trapped in Blackheath. Aka: Samaritan.
37 more rows

Why is it called 7.5 deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle? ›

Then there's The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, a Stuart Turton novel renamed The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle in the States because, apparently, Americans die more frequently.

How lost do you have to be to let the devil guide you home? ›

“How lost do you have to be to let the devil lead you home? This lost, I decide. Precisely this lost.

How many words is the seven deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle? ›

by Stuart Turton
(about 534 pages) 133,607 total words 90th PERCENTILE of all the books in our library57.16% vividness 81st PERCENTILE of all the books in our library
2.79% all adverbs 40th PERCENTILE of all the books in our library1.06% ly-adverbs 57th PERCENTILE of all the books in our library

How many books has Stuart Turton written? ›

Stuart Turton

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