The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle Tots up to a Terrifically Unique Read

evelyn hardcastleI’ll admit, when I started this book, I didn’t quite share the same convictions as some of its fans, but once I’d finished… well, I can assure you that had all changed. Let’s rewind a little, shall we?

Despite the intrigue of the opening, my confusion matched the narrator’s and I couldn’t figure out what on earth was going on. This meant that I took a lot of breaks in the beginning. I had to keep reading and rereading things to make sure I was following everything. There just seemed to be too many elements to hold onto and I wasn’t sure it was for me. I had trouble suspending my disbelief and just falling into the peculiar endless party of the story.

Now, I will admit, a part of the problem was that I had been told to go in blind… this didn’t work for me. I feel like I’d have been better off with a brief synopsis and knowing that it was a Groundhog Day style murder mystery (that’s all I’ll tell you, because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who would rather go in knowing as little as possible). At 20%, my befuddlement was so great that I simply had to read the blurb. It didn’t entirely clear things up, but at least I got a sense that it was building to something.

Still, I found the story oddly compelling (emphasis on the odd!) I was impressed by how many threads Turton wove in seemingly meaningless directions. I became entangled in the plots, looking for clues everywhere, trying to find my way out of this maze. There was the figure of Evelyn Hardcastle, darting half-seen from page to page. There were the houseguest’s secrets, spun into curious mysteries of their own. I felt like I was wading through an intense fog, until finally, around day 4 it began to clear and I finally started to grasp the narrative. Once I was halfway through, a spark was lit, and I couldn’t put it down.

Then, the twists came. Unexpected and bold and totally different. It transformed the story from the repetitious to the spectacular. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. My notes became filled with oohs and ahhs!! And my goodness- what a finale! It revealed a fascinating concept behind the story- which admittedly did raise some questions for me- so highlight for spoilers here… I will say that parts of the conclusion left me troubled- as much as I love a redemption arc, I don’t really see how Anna is completely off the hook, given a lot of the agency is with the narrator, and I think it would’ve made more sense for her to do more to save herself. That said, I do really, really like the idea of forgiveness setting you free. From the perspective of the narrator’s character, it’s the perfect arc. And ultimately, I’m a little too bedazzled to totally care about that aspect.

So, if you are like me, and a little bit baffled by this book to start with, stick with it, because the seemingly baffling beginning is redeemed by the ending.

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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Have you read this? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

58 thoughts on “The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle Tots up to a Terrifically Unique Read

  1. I read this last year and decided to take notes. Like you, I got a bit confused in the beginning and sometimes it’s days before I return to a book. So it’s easy to forget if there’s alot going on. Glad you stuck with it and enjoyed it, cause I loved it! 🙂 my advice was also to stick with it, because the story does repeat itself. Unfortunately, you don’t really realize that until you keep going. Great review!!

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  2. I absolutely love this book even though it was one of the hardest ones to read. It’s so clever and complex. I’ve no idea how Turton kept track of all of the threads. I read it as a group read (well there were four of us) and I think that really helped as we could discuss our various theories. I also wrote copious notes, something I almost never do.

    Fab review

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    1. Yeah I really agree with you. I found it confusing at first, but when I got into it, I ended up liking it 😀 I totally get what you mean- it’s super complex!! Ah that’s a great thing to have done for this book! Awesome

      Thank you!

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  3. Ooooh I LOVED this book! I’m pretty sure I read this back in March, and I thought it was great. I too went into it not knowing what to expect and was slightly confused at times, but you’re so right about the ending! It really wrapped it up in a fascinating way. I was really amazed by the way the author developed the plot. I’m honestly amazed that someone could keep that many threads straight! This book is definitely like a fun logic puzzle. ☺️

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  4. I tend to veer away from groundhog day stories—they get frustrating to read hahaha. But, I do like being confused by a book if it means plot twists are in store. Maybe this will be the groundhog day story to change my stance on the trope 🤔. Great review 😁!

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  5. Yes! You’ve read this at last! I was so hopign that you would! I absolutely adored this book last year and bought a copy for probably everybody I know for birthdays and Christmas… Always happy to share the love for something that got me so rivetted and intrigued!

    I first read it because someone told me that it was Agatha Christie meets time travel, and who can pass up on a book with a summary like that? And indeed, so very Agatha Christie to be told things right at the start and realise at the end that you never questioned those things at all. I’ll be fascinated to see what the author comes out with next…

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  6. I’m glad you enjoyed it! Sadly, I didn’t — I found it too convoluted and didn’t find the conclusion convincing. Still, the author does quite a job with keeping all those balls in the air!

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  7. Great review- I’ve been seeing this book pop up for a long time but not really heard people say anything on balance – I think a book that starts with ‘oh god this is tricky’ but still wins you over at the end is always a good read. Thanks, I’ll be adding it to my TBR pile!

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  8. Great review, I am so glad you stuck with this one and wound up enjoying it! I absolutely loved this book – it reminds me a lot of the movie Memento, which is a fave of mine – but was definitely confused as heck for a time. The Groundhog Day situation is a good way to prime a reader without giving anything away! I want to re-read this one at some point because I have a feeling it will be rather fun once you know how it ends. What will I notice this time?

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  9. I have really mixed feelings about this one, on one hand, Groundhog Day murder mystery but on the other hands, a few reviews I have read that have led me to confusing thoughts. Ugh! But glad you enjoyed it enough to give it more than four bananas!

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  10. I remember reading the preview on goodreads and feeling confused and dim witted because everyone seemed to really understand and enjoy it, but I felt compelled to pick it up one day. But this is reassuring and I think I’ll follow your suit (and research Groundhog Day). Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

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