Editor’s Note: Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had an amazing 2018 and we look forward to continue getting drunk and talking to you guys about books in 2019. You guys are an amazing community to be a part of and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We appreciate you!
Back to your regularly scheduled programming. – Sam
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
Logo spent the past week airing EVERY season of Rupaul’s Drag Race, and it’s been kind of interesting to rewatch and reevaluate who won. I mean it’s been TEN seasons plus THREE all star seasons. Season 1 all stars? The team plot twist was bullshit. Season 1, Shannel got treated badly and Nina Flowers should have won. How did Tyra win season 2? I miss how many sewing challenges they used to have. Phi Phi O’Hara was DARK. And having finished season 7 last night, Pearl skated along way too long and I still don’t see how Violet won. And overall, as always, stunned there were never more Housewives in the Snatch Games.
Why, you may ask, am I writing about Drag Race and not about the book? Because I’ve tried twice to write it after getting drunk, and twice while sober, and my motivation isn’t there because this book was just meh.
What I drank last night: cocktail after cocktail. If your city has it, try the Passport Program sometime. It’s basically a coupon book, where participating bars do BOGO (or half off one drink), so it forces you to try new things. (This isn’t a sponsored ad, I just like it because it makes my friends go to cocktail bars with me and get fancy. One cannot live on Bud light alone.)
What it’s about: “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…
Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others…”
My thoughts: This was advertised as the most inventive debut of the year, which I’d def disagree with. Turton tried something, and it wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t the MOST inventive.
SO, the narrator finds himself in the woods with no memory of who is he, including his name. He makes his way back to the house, Blackheath, where he finds out he’s a guest at the welcome home party for one Evelyn Hardcastle.
Let me stop here and explain HOW LONG it took to get to this point. It took aaaaaages. The plot is soooo slow for the first, like, 60% of the book? And the world building…this is supposed to be England, I’m guessing 1930s? Blackheath is supposed to be a falling-down estate, which I equate with the decline of tenant farmers. And the homecoming party is because Evelyn is coming back from Paris, so I’d guess she was hanging with the expat writers and living the bohemian life and mom and dad said it’s time to come home? And cars are a thing but horses are still actively used. BUT I ONLY KNOW ANY OF THIS FROM HISTORY CLASSES (and Downton Abbey) AND NOT THE AUTHOR. Turton is relying too much on the reader’s knowledge to fill in the details. That’s irritating for me and lazy on his part. If you’re going to dabble in historical fiction, you gotta do the research.
Back to the plot – as you saw in the synopsis, the narrator is a man named Aiden. But PLOT TWIST the body he’s in is just one of 8 he’s going to inhabit over the next 8 days (which is actually just the same day 8 times). Once Aiden solves the mystery, he can be released from Blackheath. But PLOT TWIST there might be other players trying to solve the mystery as well who are trying to escape the game.
So all that being said, the ACTUAL plot twists were satisfyingly executed, just not that original. Non-spoiler explanation — one of the big plot twists is pretty similar to a TV show, and doesn’t do anything to explain how it works. But it’s different enough in its execution that it works for the story. The reveal at the end is pretty good, and the characters are well-illustrated, given that the narrator has to share a body with them.
Did you ever see the ep ” White Bear” from Black Mirror? That’s kind of what’s happening in this book, and I’m frustrated he avoids touching any of the science of it all, but a lot of authors do the same thing. Reading this gave me vibes of this movie Timecrimes as well. Definitely NOT the same, just gave me vibes.
There’s a murdery footman running around and I STILL don’t get WHY he’s there.
What I gave it: 3 stars. Didn’t hate it didn’t love it
What I pair it with: Hard liquor, brown. Truly British.