A Pawn in Someone’s Game: “7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle” (Review)

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Vaughn Aarhaus

JUST A PAWN: In the novel “7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle,” Aiden Bishop finds himself trapped within the halls of Blackheath Manor and his only escape is to uncover the mystery that is Evelyn Hardcastle’s death within one day repeating eight times… or start anew with no memory of his previous attempt.

At 11 pm, Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered in broad daylight. But by who?

To solve this mystery in the novel, one must live the lives of eight people, repeating the day over and over. But there are a set amount of rules involved; you can’t leave Blackheath, the town the book is set in, and you may only leave once you uncover the murder and give your tormenter the name of the person who forces you to solve it.

Then and only then do you get to leave the cursed building. Only then do you have a chance to save Evelyn from her fate in the novel 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, by Stuart Turton.

Overall, the book is thrilling and leaves the reader craving more out of the book. With many different subplots and missions throughout, we watch as our protagonist, Aiden Bishop, explores the building without any memory of life before he was imprisoned there. Each time he wakes up in another body, he lives out their experiences of the day, making choices that affect the day and further exploring what is really in play in the madhouse they call Blackheath.

The book resembles an Agatha Christie-like type story and a Groundhog’s Day effect, with the bonus of the setting being in an isolated area lacking phones or any communication to the outside world. The Blackheath Mansion is an expansive area with the woods around it and the many rooms separate it from our world in a way that almost makes the story more interesting and believable because no one has ever been there or experienced what this cursed place is.

The reader will of course have their suspicions and ideas on who might be the culprit and how they might have done it, but the book brilliantly builds that tension just to throw something at you that changes your viewpoint without killing its tension or buildup throughout. Each character has time to shine and has a chance to let the plot grow even if they may not appear to. After the first read, you feel the need to read it again as you can watch as the things you overlooked were some of the most important details and even more thrilling than the last.

Oh, and try not to get murdered yourself. You only have eight lives. Now go!”

However, it was to be understood that some of the characters go through some very uncomfortable problems and/or they are sometimes very stereotypical or put under judgment by our protagonist. For example, he feels shame in his obesity as a rich man feeling fat and shameful. In addition, he also hosts a womanizer who forcefully tries to get attached to a character, much to the chagrin of Aidan Bishop.

With that in mind, the book is thrilling and keeps the reader excited throughout the story. Each of the characters is fascinating and intertwined in a number of ways and flips any theory you may have on top of its head. There is never a dull moment and everything about this book is enthralling and wonderous. I would recommend this to any Agatha Christie fan or anyone who just wants to watch as the protagonist is thrown into a game that he has no control in whatsoever.