WARNING: DO NOT READ THE BOOK THE SEVEN DEATHS OF EVELYN HARDCASTLE! Do not pick it up. Do not read the back to see if it sounds interesting. Do not weigh it in your hand, or flip through the pages the way you do (ftftftftftft). Do not read the first few pages to see if you’d like it.
Don’t do any of that because here’s the truth: you won’t just like it, you’ll become obsessed with it! You’ll be hooked! You’ll be done, finito, a goner. You’ll hole up in your room and you won’t come out until you have finished reading the entire book! You’ll miss breakfasts, lunches, dinners, your best friend’s birthday and your nephews bar mitzvah. And that’ll be it for you. You won’t be able to concentrate on anything – all you’ll think about is the book! What’s going to happen? Who’s the next character the narrator will inhabit? Will they find the murderer? Who’s the murderer?? This will be your life for however long it takes you to finish reading the book. Because once you start reading, every second of your day you’ll think about THE BOOK until you’ve finished it! Contemplated it! Conquered it! If you’re going to insist on continuing to read this post, then so be it! But don’t say I didn’t warn you!
The story begins with the narrator who is awakened in the middle of the woods with no recollection of how he got there or who he is. All he knows is the name “Anna”. The story continues on to reveal that he’s a guest at Blackheath Manor and was invited there by the Hardcastle family to attend a most fancy ball that evening. What he soon comes to realize is that at 11pm there will be a murder and he needs to stop it. If he doesn’t manage to stop the murder in time he will wake up on the same day, in a different character, and he’ll have to live the day again. He gets eight characters in all to figure it out. If, however, by the end of the eighth character he still hasn’t managed to stop the murder the entire cycle will begin again, but if he does figure it out then he will be allowed to finally leave Blackheath Manor.
This book is seemingly basic but becomes quite complex in its characters, timelines, and plot – this is Agatha Christie on steroids. As the reader continues through time and space, the plot continues to unfold with each new embodiment of the eight characters. The old story falls away revealing an entirely different story underneath. What you thought you knew is no more! The book is not so much written but crocheted – the closer you look, the more complicated it becomes. Of the eight characters (as embodied by the narrator), some are more developed than others and therefore help to move the plot along. What complicates matters even more is the fact that there are others at the manor who are also trying to figure out and stop the murder. Whoever figures it out first gets to leave Blackheath, with its never-ending time loop, and be finally free from its curse.
It is not an exaggeration to say that a lot of things in this book kept me up at night, but I can’t get into any of them without giving away a whole lot so it’s best to not say anything. The less you know, the better. Suffice to say this book by Stuart Turton is unforgettable, and is one that you will think about long after you’ve finished it. But don’t say I didn’t warn you!