Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (11/23/21) – The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I’ll admit to being not much of a mystery reader; I’m terrible at predicting who perpetrated (x) crime, so I just end up going along for the ride like a dog sticking its head out of a car window. But I thoroughly enjoyed Evelyn Hardcastle, from its consistent suspense to its creative takes on the genre.

Enjoy this week’s review!

The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

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

Aiden Bishop has no memory of who he is, or who he was before. All he knows is this: he is currently attending a masquerade ball at Blackheath Manor, and that at the end of the night, a famous socialite by the name of Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day, time starts over, and Bishop wakes up in the body of a different party guest. The only way for him to break out of Blackheath Manor is to answer this question: who killed Evelyn Hardcastle?

𝔧𝔲𝔰𝔱 𝔶𝔬𝔲 — chewbacca: KNIVES OUT dir. Rian Johnson
god, I need to watch this movie again

TW/CW: murder, suicide, gunshot wounds, near-death situations, forced marriage, poisoning, drinking

Listen. I don’t often read mysteries, but even with a limited body of work to base my thoughts off of, I can say with certainty that this is one of the most creative mysteries that I’ve ever read.

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle has drawn comparisons to the likes of everything from Agatha Christie to Groundhog Day, and I can see the threads of both in this novel! It certainly had the feel of a classic mystery, and the cyclical, time-twisting element reminded me a lot of Groundhog Day with very different stakes. In fact, Turton’s playing with time is what made Evelyn Hardcastle such an enjoyable book; with each day that Aiden experiences, the stakes are raised even higher, building a very unique brand of suspense. I’m not usually one for back-and-forth time jumps, but Evelyn Hardcastle had a precise and clear reason for doing so, and the chapter layout worked just as well to increase the tension.

Going into Evelyn Hardcastle, the concept of switching between the bodies of guests was what intrigued me most. This aspect was easily the most well-executed element of them all, bringing in a twisty and creative factor to a mystery that would otherwise seem like any other period piece murder. The fact that all of the guests were, on some level, deplorable people made this facet of the book all the better; each one of them had any number of nasty skeletons in their closets, which made the question of Evelyn’s murder all the more intriguing—it could have been anyone.

I didn’t expect for the mystery to be an orchestrated test as well; the added element of multiple body-switching guests and the enigmatic Plague Doctor character created a new layer of suspense, which not only made the stakes higher, but also stranger. The idea that the key to Aiden’s freedom was solving Evelyn Hardcastle’s murder was all the more interesting given that this twisted “game” of sorts was orchestrated by any number of cryptic agents was such an inventive way of creating tension, so hats off to Turton for finding all sorts of ways to craft a suspenseful mystery!

Plus, the amount of red herrings that got thrown around…I’m notoriously bad at a) figuring out mysteries, and b) falling for false bait, so I tend to give up on trying to solve the mystery itself and just go along for the ride. That being so, I loved all the ways that Turton threw us off the trail as readers; in multiple instances, there were times that Evelyn Hardcastle’s murder seemed deceptively simple, but there were ruses on top of ruses (or: a donut hole in a donut’s hole) that slowly unfolded to uncover the real cause of her death. I’m sure that it’s just the kind of thing that mystery readers eat up—and I certainly ate it up, even as someone who rarely reads in the genre.

Also, without spoiling anything—the fact that Evelyn Hardcastle could technically count as sci-fi (according to the interview with Stuart Turton) makes it so much more fascination, not just because I love sci-fi so much, but because of the implications that has for the origin of Blackheath Manor in the first place. FASCINATING stuff.

All in all, a crafty mystery that employed all manner of creative twists to hook the reader in. 4 stars!

The Plague Doctor by MaxChe on Dribbble

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a standalone, and it was Stuart Turton’s debut novel. Turton is also the author of The Devil and the Dark Water, and contributed to the anthology You Are Not Alone.

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Random

2019

December 31, 2019. The end of the year, the end of a decade. I normally do end-of-the-year recaps on this blog, but this is the first of this scope, really.

And looking back, I’m honestly baffled about how far I’ve come–not in the span of a year, no, but in the span of 10. I mean, I was toddling into elementary school for the first time when the decade began. Now I’m about halfway through high school, hopefully a bit wiser and more mature. But this decade has been one of many transitions, realizations, and so much growth. [pats self on the back] you did it, kiddo!

Now, let’s zoom in on 2019. Last year was a year of growing into a new skin, of realizing who I was and what I might want to do. This year, for me, was about becoming confident in said skin, and for the most part? I think it was a success. 2019 certainly had its ups and downs, but I’d say it’s a step up from the last…oh, three years or so. Not quite so awful as 2016, and not perfect, but certainly better.

It’s been an amazing year for books, in my opinion. I honestly don’t remember another time when I’ve stacked so many books on my Top 10 list, or given so many books of one year 5 stars (Aurora Rising, The Pioneer, King of Scars, Like a Love Story, etc.) . Of course, this was also a year of new series, so…fingers crossed that Aurora Burning and The Survivor (among others) won’t disappoint. We had a load of amazing movies, and lots of franchises coming to an end along with the decade. (Avengers: Endgame, Dark Phoenix, The Rise of Skywalker), and several other movies that certainly need mentioning (Captain Marvel, Jojo Rabbit, Spiderman: Far From Home, Joker, Knives Out, etc.) I’ve discovered an onslaught of great artists, thanks to Apple Music, and I went to Canada for the first time. I started a WIP that I’ve been neglecting to write for a good three years, and I completed another year of NaNoWriMo. Oh, and Trump got impeached. THANK. GOD. I mean, there’s no way he’s getting removed from office [ahem], but hey, it’s a start. Blegh. Again, 2016. What a dumpster fire.

But one thing that I find fairly notable is that I’ve starting to take this book blogging thing semi-seriously. I’ve started participating in tags, I’ve found a bunch more lovely blogs, and gotten so much insight into this cozy little world. So I’d like to thank all of you reading this, for liking and commenting on my posts, tagging me/following along with tags, and for just sticking around.

With that said, there’s a few improvements that I think I’ll start making to this blog next year:

  • For my Book Review Tuesdays, I’m going to try and start going through books that aren’t in the 3-5 star range; it’s good to review stuff that’s not the best, after all. I’ll start putting my actual star ratings on there, along with some other info.
  • I’ll try and do weekly updates. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to keep up with monthly, but we’ll see how that goes.
  • At the end of every post, I’ll try and post a link to a song that I listened to/liked as I was writing it. I’m a very music-oriented person, and I thought it would just be a fun little addition. (Currently listening to Wilco’s “Red-Eyed and Blue”)
  • When NaNoWriMo/Camp NaNoWriMo season comes back around, I’ll try and put some updates on that as well.

 

So let’s make this next decade–and year–one of rising beyond, one of growth, improvement, and joy. [holds out lightsaber] Let’s do this.

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And while I’m at it, I’ll start on one of the things I said I’d improve on. Let’s end this post with a song.

I got into girpool in August, and though this isn’t my favorite of their songs, I think it perfectly captures the New Year’s Eve state of mind, and reflecting on how things used to be.

 

So thank you for spending this year with me. Have a great rest of your day…SEE YOU IN 2020

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