Sunday, February 11, 2018

Review - The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
The first thing that struck me was the very clever writing and story telling. Typically, when you are telling a story its either first or third person narrative, and usually the story focuses on one character or from that character's point of view. In this instance, we not only have the first person narrative of one character, we have the additional narratives of multiple characters - yet all are, at various time, one and the same! And that is where this book stands out in both its writing and in the telling of the story.

Narrator Aiden Bishop awakens to find himself in the body of one of the guests at a private party. Sounds a bit like an episode of "Quantum Leap" - however, in this story, the scene is played out over and over until the mystery of the death of Evelyn Hardcastle is solved (a bit like "Groundhog Day" where a wrong must be put right for the universe to get back to normal), with Aiden waking each day in the body of yet another party guest, edging ever closer to the day when he must reveal what he knows or is condemned to repeat it all again in an eternal time loop.

It is through Aiden's eyes, when inhabiting the body of his hosts, that the story and clues to this mystery (a murder that is not a murder) are eventually put before us as each "host" sees the scenes being played out differently. But its not that simple afterall, "... how lost do you have to be to let the devil lead you home ...". And Aiden is certainly led on a merry chase by allies and foes alike, while unseen hands manipulate the guests like a proverbial puppeteer but to what end and purpose.

What was intriguing is that we never really get a sense of time (ie: when is this story set), or how long the protagonists have dwelt in this time loop. What we do know is that an answer will release them, and as the tale progresses, " ... it is no longer simply about finding the right answer, its about holding onto it long enough to deliver it ...".

It may take a chapter or two to get in the swing of things, but persevere - the answers to this story are not as obvious as you may think, and just when you think all is resolved, you realise you have 100 or so more pages to go!

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