“How lost do you have to be to let the devil lead you home?”
WOW!! I have just finished this book and…wow, again!
Imagine that Agatha Christie had had a child with Quantum Leap and Groundhog Day, who then grew up watching Black Mirror, Back to the Future and even Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and you might just start to get a handle on the uniquely complex mystery that is The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.
First of all, MAJOR #coverlove: the black, red and gold look is gorgeous – very art deco – and with references to some of the key elements in the corners. (There is an interesting article about putting this beautiful cover together here.) Second of all: LOVE the floor plan and map inside the cover (spoilers: I have always adored a good floor plan!)
OK, onto the book. It opens with an invitation to The Masquerade Ball at Blackheath House and a list of notable attendees. (There are a LOT of characters to keep a hold on, and some very similar names – Daniel, Dickie, Donald Davies, Derby, Dance – so this epigraph is very helpful!) It is reminiscent of the Golden Age of Detection-style country house murder mysteries, but there is nothing remotely jolly about this country house, nor cosy about its murder mystery.
“Darkness presses up against my bedroom window, its cold breath leaving frost on the glass. The fire hisses in response, the swaying flames my only light”
The first scene throws you straight into the story and from then on you have to hold on tight to keep a grip of the intricate and cleverly constructed plot! Even with the information given in the blurb, it did take me a while to get my head round the internal logic of the book’s concept, but I did get there. 🙂 The gripping pace barely lets up and there are lots of clues and “Aha!” moments spread throughout.
The book is absolutely beautifully written, with some amazingly creative descriptions of the house, the grounds, the weather and people’s emotions. It also describes well the freaky and sometimes amusing (and sometimes hideous) practicalities of ‘being’ someone else.
It is extremely tense in places and by the time the story was building to its climax, I was frantically racing through it and astounded by each twist and turn as the conclusion played out. I don’t think I managed to successfully work out any of the plot points – but that is more than fine by me; I had a great time guessing and I much prefer it when a book can make my jaw hit the floor.
“Sweat is trickling down my spine, the tension in the room thick enough to scoop up in handfuls”
This is such a good book: it has a unique plot, an intriguing mystery, a dash of humour, some beautiful writing and all the thrilling plot twists! I loved the way that something is observed on one day, then a day or two later you see how that situation or event came about.
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is shamelessly complicated, incredibly clever and brilliantly plotted and if you can keep your wits about you, you will love it too.