I didn’t really like The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle at first. In fact, after a few chapters I put it down and decided to read something else. But then I found that I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and even now, 2 days after I finished it, I’m still thinking about it. Somehow this book, in which there wasn’t a single character I liked or any ending I could picture that would’ve satisfied me, wormed its way into my psyche and if I hadn’t already had to return it to the library, I would be reading it again right now.
Evelyn Hardcastle starts with the protagonist waking up at a sort of Edwardian house party, but he has no memory of how he got there or even who he is. Soon all is revealed–he’s there to solve a murder that hasn’t happened yet. Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered that night, and he has eight chances to solve the murder. Every morning, he’ll wake up in the body of a different guest at the house party and live the day over again. At the end of eight days, if he’s figured out who is responsible for Evelyn’s death, he’ll be free to go (back to a life he no longer remembers). If he doesn’t, his memory will be wiped once again and his eight days will start over.
Evelyn Hardcastle combines an old-fashioned murder mystery with some science fiction. It scared me so badly I couldn’t read it when I was home alone or once it got dark, but I’m a chicken. Like I said above, I didn’t like any of the characters, not even the protagonist. I was terrified of the footman (the bad guy). The setting was creepy and gross. I didn’t like the ending, and I’m not sure I could think of an ending that I would have found satisfying. But I couldn’t get the story out of my head. There were so many moving parts, I could barely keep track of it all, and upon finishing I wanted nothing more than to go back and read it all again so I could say, “Oh, so that’s how that worked!” It was gripping. I’m not sure what to make of it all, and I’m not sure if I would recommend this book or not. In spite of everything I didn’t like about this book, I did enjoy the ride.