By: Stuart Turton
The Rules of Blackheath
Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m.
There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit.
We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer.
If you can’t give us the name by the time you reach your final host, you will start all over again from the very beginning. A blank slate.
The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle started with a memory loss plot that kicked my reading slump into high gear. I detest memory loss as a plot devise because I find lazy and too convenient for driving a story forward. I spent over a month reading just the first half of the story before I fully appreciated that I was just burnt out on reading. After taking some time away from the novel, I came back wanting to see how it ended and finished the remaining 230 pages in less than a week with the last 100 pages read in a day.
Up until that half-way point, I understood what the story was trying to do but I didn’t think it was worth all the hype the novel received in the book community. I was fully prepared to give it 3 or 3.5 stars once I made it to the end and leave it at that. My tone changed in that second half of the book when I realized Turton was quite clever not only in the execution of the story but also in the layout of the narrative. Aiden Bishop lives a full day as 8 different people with various backstories and vices. Each one contributes to the greater narrative as a whole impacting what happens to the other 7 hosts. It’s a significant amount to keep track of, and I give the author props for managing to weave a narrative that kept track of everything.
There were some details or conclusions that seems slightly forced but not enough to mention here (wouldn’t want spoilers anyway).
If you enjoy twisting narratives and don’t mind memory loss elements, this may be the murder mystery for you. What really brought the book home for me was the overall moral that isn’t revealed until later. I won’t tell you what it is because it gives to much away, but I can at least tell you that the sentiment was enough to bring me pause. I respect this author’s stylistic choices now that I’ve made it to the end of the convoluted tale.
I would definitely recommend the story but only to people who are die hard mystery fans with a paranormal twist.
Overall rating: 4