The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

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Publish Date: September 4, 2018

‘’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.’” – The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

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The Hardcastle family is hosting a masquerade at their home, and their daughter Evelyn Hardcastle will die. She will die every day until Aiden Bishop is able identify her killer and break the cycle.

But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up each day in a different body as one of the guests.

Aiden’s only escape is to solve Evelyn Hardcastle’s murder and conquer the shadows of an enemy he struggles to even comprehend. But nothing and no one are quite what they seem.

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Insanity is doing something over and over and expecting a different result.” – Albert Einstein

This book is like a Downton Abbey murder mystery party, with a cool twist: one person plays a different character in the same scenes over and over until the murder is solved. 

What is a murder mystery party?

A murder mystery party is a themed event where partygoers are each assigned a specific character to play.  They come dressed as their character and act in character during the party. They also work together to solve a pretend murder that occurs during the event. The party guests are also the murder suspects. By the end of the party, the guests must figure out who did it, how they did it, and why they did it. Usually, a guest doesn’t even know that they are the murderer until the end.

Murder mystery parties are a lot of fun, especially if everyone gets into their character and if they’re clever enough to follow along. Every interaction is a clue, and each person’s view of the events can be different. I’ve participated in several and once, to my surprise, my character was revealed as The Murderer!

Each person does see the world in a different way. There is not a single, unifying, objective truth. We’re all limited by our perspective.” – Siri Hustvedt

As I found out through this book, changing your perspective changes your experience.

This book does an excellent job at illustrating the importance of perspective, and how different stories can arise with each individual person’s view on the same events.

Aidan Bishop finds himself at the Blackheath county estate of Lord and Lady Hardcastle. He is stuck experiencing their daughter Evelyn’s murder over and over, each time within a different guest’s body. He must solve the murder before 2 other people to leave this situation, so the clock is ticking.

The first few times Aidan had a hard time with the body swapping. Change is often a complex and difficult process especially if it’s a bodily experience! Aidan’s inability to change had him stuck and unsatisfied until he adopted a new way of thinking. When he changed his perspective, he knew that what he was going through had a purpose, even if he did not understand it.

This change in perspective has Aidan learning many things. He learns that there is more to what we see and feel, and no matter what it looks like on the outside, there is much more going on beneath the circumstances. This book reminds us that we have a choice in how we view things. Changing your perspective changes your view, and thus, how you feel about it.

The book begins like a classic murder mystery party where there is very little background information and the reader has to figure out the context. It was a little confusing in the beginning because the narrator’s identity isn’t revealed until 25% into the book. However, the multiple perspectives and the concept of Aidan Bishop waking up in host bodies is fascinating; it would be so odd to possess a body other than your own. The writing is very atmospheric, descriptive, and the setting and characters remind me of Downton Abbey’s charm, humor, and wit. It transported me into the 1920’s with British nobility, socialites, butlers, valets, maids, horses and carriages. The book is a little bit on the longer side, about 500 pages, so it’s not a quick read. It’s not in my typical genre, but I enjoyed it and I think you will, too.

Hold on to your top hats, because this book is a wild ride with unique perspectives.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars 4 Stars

Note: I received an advance copy of this book from Sourcebooks Landmark through NetGalley and Edelweiss. 

I think that this quote sums up the theme of the book:

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