Review of ‘The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle’ by Stuart Turton

Reading this over-hyped 500+ page book was like being trapped in a lengthy game of Cluedo where everyone gets drugged and beaten up.

I’d been looking forward to this winner of the Costa First Novel Award and many reviewers’ top book of 2018. However, I found it disappointing and an effort to finish. The concept itself is interesting. A country house murder mystery where the same day is replayed over and over, with our protagonist inhabiting the bodies of different characters in order to solve a murder. Only then will he be freed. I liked how the author explored what it’s like to see the world from other people’s perspectives and also the beginning of the story was intriguing. Unfortunately I had some issues with the book.

The author’s writing style was my main problem. Over-descriptive. Clichés all over the place. Repetition. Clunky sentences. Characters were always hissing, growling or narrowing their eyes. It made me hiss, growl and narrow my eyes in frustration.

For such a drama-filled story the pace seemed to be slow. And how convenient that most of the info-dumping takes place when the protagonist just happens to be a policeman with the authority and the right kind of brain to work everything out. I didn’t care about any of the characters either. There were so many of them, two-dimensional and dull.

No doubt the plot is clever but if I gave ratings this would be a two-star review.

41 thoughts on “Review of ‘The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle’ by Stuart Turton”

  1. Sorry that this didn’t work for you! I can imagine how frustrating it may feel to read a long book that didn’t like. I loved this one but recently I read a few erk! ones exactly made me feel like you described 🙂

    1. I actually struggle with longer books anyway and the author has to work hard to keep my interest! I’m glad you’re not annoyed that I’m dissing a book you loved 😉

  2. Ah what a surprise! I’m sorry you didn’t like the novel and your honest opinion is very appreciated. I personally loved it and didn’t notice any of the slowness and such though. Ah it happens, you can’t love every book. ?

    1. Thank you, Inge! It’s interesting how readers can have such varied opinions about the same book. I was disappointed particularly because this one won a prestigious award and I’d expected to at least like it, if not love it 🙂

  3. I felt exactly the same way about this book! I came close to DNFing it and my friend who I buddy read it with did DNF it. You’ve definitely pinned down the issues I had with it. Great review!

    1. I did consider DNFing the book but I still wanted to see how it ended! Relieved to see that a fellow book blogger has the same issues with it – I’m sure I’ve read many enthusiastic reviews on other blogs. Thanks for your comment 🙂

  4. This was hilarious ? I don’t read fiction anymore but I actually love reading reviews of what’s new and popular, and this has struck me as one that sounded really good. I’ve read so many glowing reviews of it. But yikes…not described like this!

    1. If you do read it – then you might love it. I’m rather a critical reader. Glad you found this amusing 😉

  5. Haha I love this… your review is so funny that I almost want to read the book just to see if I will hiss, growl and narrow my eyes too!!

    I totally get your point about being over descriptive, that’s why I don’t like Stephen King (Am I allowed to say that!!!!!) 🙂

    1. Thanks Kirsty! And yes you’re allowed to say you don’t like Stephen King. I’m not a big fan either.
      I was a little worried about putting this negative review out there of a book so many people love, but the responses I’ve had have reassured me that it’s the right thing to do & that my honesty is appreciated!

  6. Oooh, this is a different take on a book that seemingly everyone apart from you loves! I feel a bit better about the library having it reserved until the end of February now! It’s a shame that you didn’t enjoy it (especially as it’s so long) but at least you got a hilarious review out of it ?

    1. Thanks Lucinda! You might love this book, I’ll be interested in your view. I almost abandoned the book, but then I couldn’t have written a full review if I didn’t know how it ended.

  7. Writing style definitely effects things, and I loved Stu’s style which is why I got on so well with the book, but I can see how it may not be everyone’s thing. I’m hoping that debates on books like this one continue as they’re very constructive!

    1. Writing style is very important to me… I suppose Stu Turton’s style wasn’t for me! Thanks for your comment – I think this post has proved that no one should be afraid of writing a negative review, because it’s good to debate the book 🙂

      1. Absolutely! I do it to be constructive and to let other readers know that it’s not just them who don’t like [amazing author].
        I don’t like Liane Moriarty and it’s okay. I do think Stu’s writing style reflects his personality so much and is very unique!

        1. It’s good to be constructive and not just say you didn’t like the book, I agree 🙂

    1. Oh yes, you’ve hit the nail on the head there. Maybe the Costa judges were so impressed by the concept that they ignored the rest of it 😀

  8. Ahahahahaha the growling and hissing got me rofl!! So glad to finally read a review that’s the total opposite! I love love love reading opposing reviews! Help me decide if I shd spend my precious time reading a book or not! And with this… I’ve decided not to hahaha got way too many other books on my TBR to be adding another one! There’s a reason why I’ve been holding back on this book and now I know it – Coz NS hasn’t reviewed it! ?

    1. Aha, if it hasn’t got my seal of approval it’s not worth reading obviously 😉
      Seriously don’t let me put you off if it sounds like your kinda book, Jee. But it’s long and I know your time is precious 🙂
      I make the characters sound like cats don’t I? So many times someone hisses in someone else’s ear.

      1. Ahahahaha yeah!! Are you a cat lover? Or animal lover in general? Nahhh don’t think I’d wanna add this to my TBR… Maybe some other time, who knows! Haha

  9. Hurrah! I am no longer a lone voice in the wilderness on this one. After reading loads of reviews praising it to the hilt, I was at a loss to see what the fuss was about. Like you I found the characters really one dimensional, as I think the writer was putting more effort into keeping up the conceit of the book. It was just dull, and as I didn’t finish it (skipped to the end) I didn’t review it. It’s now been consigned to my ‘Not-my bag ‘ shelf on GoodReads. Thanks for a thoroughly honest review ☺

    1. Nice to meet you, fellow ‘Seven Deaths’ disliker! I certainly appreciate the effort it must have taken for the author to put the book together (I’m writing a book myself and it’s extremely difficult) but the end result is, as you put it, not my bag. Thanks for commenting 🙂

  10. It is a shame you didn’t like this one, and it was interesting to read a more negative review of what is a book that I have mostly seen praised. I’m going to read it soon. Nice review ??

    1. Thanks Stephen, I’ll be interested to see what you think of the book. Hopefully I didn’t have any spoilers in the review 😉

  11. That was my opinion on this book too and I wholly support yours! Such an intriguing premise at the beginning and what a disappointment it all turned out to be by the end. The author really cannot write characters. Yes, they were two-dimensional and dull, but also lacked something which made them human. Reading this novel is like reading about some puppets on stage. I cannot imagine anyone caring or relating to any of the characters.

    1. Totally agree – that’s a good summary. The characters do seems like puppets as you say. I’m just surprised that the book has been praised so much and won an award! It’s very flawed. Thanks for your comment.

  12. Ah such a shame you didn’t like this one! I’m on the opposite side because I gave it 4 out of 5 but I can definitely understand why it wouldn’t be for everyone. It fits into a strange and unusual category really!

    1. I agree it’s rather an unusual book – certainly I’ll remember it! Thanks for your comment.

    1. Thank you! I just had to be honest about how I felt, even though it meant saying negative things about a really popular book.

  13. I personally loved the book but it’s nice to read a different view on it. The writing style is what really stood out for me but I appreciate that it’s not to everyone’s taste and it’s not the usual writing you would expect in a historical mystery/thriller setting. I always like reading your honest reviews and this one is no exception!

    1. Thanks for your comment! The writing style of a book is very important to me – if I don’t like it, that colours my whole view of the book. 🙂

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