Book review: The Seven (and 1/2) Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

(Before we get to the review, I just wanted to say (again) that my comments are 100% being labelled as spam, so please check your spam folders!)


The Seven (& 1/2) Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

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★★★
3.5 stars, rounded to 4

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I’m not going to put the official Goodreads blurb because I think it takes away from the story and gives too much away. But here’s the gist:

The narrator wakes up one day without any memories. He is tasked with solving the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle, who will continue to die until he solves it. He lives the same day as eight different people before his memory is erased again and he starts over.

There was a lot to love about this book, and there were only a couple of petty things I had issue with. Without those petty things, this would have been 4 stars for sure (instead of 3.5).


But let’s start with the good:

  • The plot is superb. It is so interesting, so well-crafted, so compelling. There are so many layers and surprises throughout. It’s one of those books I would describe as “compulsively readable”. It ended up reminding me of a Black Mirror episode, but I won’t say which one because that’s a spoiler too.
  • The mystery is really interesting too, and also had several layers. A+ mystery.
  • I appreciate the different people the main character becomes and how they each had their strengths and weaknesses. They all felt like real people and were well-developed characters.
  • The side-characters were great, too. None of them felt one-dimensional and they added a lot to the story.
  • I really, really enjoyed reading this book and could not put it down. Honestly, it’s one of those books where I finished it, and wanted to start reading it again. I haven’t really been able to stop thinking about it, which is a good thing.

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Now onto my little issues. The first is that I felt confused for a large portion of this book. On the one hand, I get it. It’s a mystery with a ton of layers, it’s going to be confusing. But when I say I was confused for a large portion of this book, I mean about 95% of this book. As a reader, it’s frustrating to be in the dark all the time. Sure, maybe someone who’s more observant than me or better with mysteries than me would be less confused. But it was still very confusing. I wasn’t confused about the ending or the resolution, just everything leading up to the reveal, if that makes sense.


My second issue is with the narrator’s reaction to specific people he wakes up as. One of the days, he’s a very large, overweight man. Another day, he’s a rapist. He spends most of his time as the large man complaining about how large and overweight he is and how hard it is to move around and how he can get nothing done because of how large his man is. He’s disgusted by it. In comparison, when he realizes he’s a rapist, he has a couple of moments where he’s like “wow I’m a shitty person, this is horrifying” and then moves on.

From a practical perspective, I get it. You wouldn’t walk around and think “oh, this is what it feels like to walk as a rapist” whereas you would if you were significantly larger than you were used to. I get that. However, as an author, just be better. The fat-shaming wasn’t necessary. There’s a difference between pointing out that it’s harder to move around and obsessing over how hard it is and how it’s hard because you’re fat. Additionally, the person being a rapist didn’t really do anything to advance the plot. There was one part that would’ve had to be changed if he wasn’t a rapist, and it could’ve been changed fairly easily.

This book was published in the year of our lord 2018. Be better as an author about how you portray fat people and rapists. Don’t make being fat a bigger (no pun intended) issue than being a rapist. That’s really not much to ask.

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But, like I said, I still gave this book 3.5 stars. It was a great, fun, interesting read. Overall, I would still recommend it.

Also, I really appreciated Callum’s review. I think he does a great, levelled job of explaining everything, as well as my issues with it. You can read his review here.


So, that’s my review of this book! Have you read it? What were your thoughts? Do you plan on reading it? Let me know!

Ally xx

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18 thoughts on “Book review: The Seven (and 1/2) Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

  1. I’ve reflected a lot on the fat-shaming since the first time I saw a review complaining about it. At first I thought people were overreacting. I mean, if you one day woke up 450 pounds and could barely walk around, you would probably be frustrated too. But the more I think about it the more I realize that the same thing could have been achieved in a more sensitive manner. He could have woken up as an elderly person who needed a cane to move about. He could have woken up in a body with pneumonia.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. SAME it was one of those things that I thought people were being a little too sensitive or nit-picky about. And I get it from a practical perspective. But exactly what you said! It could have been so many other things other than a really fat man. Or it could’ve been dealt with better. Like, if he just mentioned it once, was like “oh that was shitty of me to think, I guess I just have to suck it up and deal with it”, and moved on, I would’ve been fine with it

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Agreed. I didn’t even think of it that way. “Wow, being in this body makes me feel gross. Geez, I’m a terrible person…” The fact that we don’t really know what time period the protagonist is from also makes it a little harder to judge him. Like, people were jerks in the 20s…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review! I plan on reading this still, because I’ve heard such interesting things about it, but haven’t had a chance yet. I’m curious to see how confusing it is to me. I enjoy mysteries, but don’t always figure out the answers before the big reveal.

    Liked by 1 person

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