Title: The Seven & 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Author: Stuart Turton
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: September 18th, 2018
The Rules of Blackheath
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…
The rules of Blackheath are simple. Every night, at 11PM, Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered. Aiden is trapped in the dilapidated manor until he solves the mystery, waking up in a different host every day. But not all of his hosts are helpful and the mystery is a bigger puzzle than he expected.
What I Liked:
- Writing: The character descriptions were probably my favorite part of this book. They were hilarious and spot-on, describing every character and host perfectly throughout the novel. It also fit the mood and setting of the novel, matching the eerie, abandoned nature of Blackheath itself. The mystery developed and deepened with every page and you never knew what to expect. I loved the fact that every time I had an idea of the solution, I was proven wrong and another surprise lay in the next page.
- Plot: This was different from any mystery novel I’ve ever read and the plot was truly unique to the genre. There were equal parts mystery and paranormality, which added an air of creepiness to the story and made it much more enjoyable. The idea of perishable hosts also added an element of danger and urgency, which had me rooting for Aiden the entire time.
What I Disliked:
- Pace: While I loved the story and its premise, the pace was quite slow and I found myself getting bored a few times. Some of the hosts’ chapters didn’t really add anything to the story and just seemed to take up pages for no apparent reason. I felt as though the story could have been much shorter due to this, because there were so many needless parts.
- Unanswered Questions: There were a few sub-arcs in the story, regarding certain characters, that were left unanswered, and that left me feeling rather unsatisfied. It was as if there were still loose ends by the end of the novel, and considering the previous point, I think that these loose ends could have been tied up rather easily instead of having chapters that didn’t serve much of a purpose other than giving us a deeper look at some of the more useless hosts.
- Unreliable Narrator vs. Omniscient Narrator (this one might be considered nitpicking, but it really bothered me): The narrator is clearly meant to be an unreliable narrator, but every time he met a new character, he would guess their exact age, and I thought this was really annoying. There were also constant switches between said narrator and a detached omniscient narrator, which made the reading experience a little distracting.
This is more of a 3.5 stars, since I did enjoy the story overall, despite the things I disliked. So, if you’re in the mood for a mystery with a unique twist, then I would definitely recommend this book. It’ll be out at the end of this summer!
*Thank you to NetGalley & Sourcebooks Landmark for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*