Anxiety is the minimum, heaviness was the coup de grace: I get rid of possible misunderstandings to tell you that I didn’t like the acclaimed novel The Seven Deaths by Evelyn Hardcastle, but I appreciated Stuart Turton’s skill. It was the book chosen for the reading group in July, so when I returned from vacation where I was happy with urban fantasy rivers, I faced the test. So it started right away for me, not being (and you following the blog, you know it) a thrill-seeker. But Turton’s debut work has been described as a mix of Agatha Christie and Black Mirror, a psychological thriller, which mixed genres, from classic yellow to horror. So even though I knew I was at a disadvantage, I convinced myself, also because I always have the idea: some books may not even like us but should be read the same. And it’s certainly the case with the novel The Seven Deaths by Evelyn Hardcastle.
Let’s see some plot? All right.
Then, in a decadent Victorian-style mansion, in an unspecified time that we imagine before the First World War, a series of characters come together at a party organized by the Hardcastle for their daughter Evelyn. They are the same guests that nineteen years before, they were always guests in the manor surrounded by the forest, during an event that became tragic for the death of Thomas, son of the Hardcastle. And another violent event marks the incision of the novel. The protagonist is condemned to wake up for seven consecutive days in as many guests at the party. Every day he repeats himself for him, he has no memory of himself, and only halfway through the book does he understand that he is called Aiden. He wakes up as the doctor, the butler, the detective, personalities who try to devour his, committed to solving the mystery of a crime. At eleven o’clock, in fact, Evelyn is murdered in the garden. The doctor of the plague, the most beautiful character of the novel, is a foreign element to the context that is inserted only to provide indications and hope to Aiden: by identifying the murderer, he will be free from the cruel mechanism.
The style of writing is high, from the twentieth century novel. And I appreciated that. But falling into the claustrophobic repetition of events, it also loses its undoubted brilliance. Why didn’t I like it? The spark was not triggered, I read it with difficulty and only by duty from half onwards saw the commitment with the reading group. By the way, thanks to Emanuele, I caught a few more aspects related to the theme of forgiveness (I don’t say more to not spoil) and I witnessed an interest in the enthusiasm that sparked in others. If there is one sure thing, it is that it is discussed.