Phew! That was a fun ride. I have been listening to the ‘7 deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle’s audiobook version for months now. It took months only because I had a strict ‘listening only while cooking’ rule. There were 2 hours of audiobook left when I was done making lunch today and I just could not wait till dinner to finish the book. So I snapped and ended up purchasing an ebook version because reading is quicker than listening. Yes, the book was so interesting that I paid for two versions of it.
‘7 deaths’ is two mysteries in one. The first is the mystery of Evelyn Hardcastle’s murder and the second is the mystery of the premise itself which is – who are the people trapped in the loop trying to solve a murder and why. I enjoyed the solution to the second mystery a lot more than the first as it was original and much deeper than I’d thought.
From the beginning, when you are introduced to this nameless person (eventually revealed to be Aiden Bishop) trapped inside a host he has no respect for, you start rooting for him. Every time he sleeps or dies, he wakes up as another person, in another host’s body. He has little memory of who he is and he loses a bit of it every time the host changes. At times, I felt as helpless and frustrated as Aiden because he was made to try and solve a murder to which he seemingly has no connection in order to go back to his own life that he doesn’t remember. It was reminiscent of a very different book I read about memories called Elizabeth Is Missing.
I was worried that the author would pull the rug from under me in the end and reveal that I’ve been rooting for a horrible monster. Interestingly, knowing the ending, I realize that it wouldn’t have mattered.
I loved how distinct and interesting each host was. The whole book was the reader processing the world of Blackheath through these different minds. And I thoroughly enjoyed that Aiden, just like the readers, learns what it means to be good from even the worst of them. Jot Davies, the narrator of the audiobook version, had the difficult task of making these host characters sound distinct but similar. And I must say, he pulled it off. So much so that when I read the final chapters, it sounded like his voice in my mind.
The ending was not as clever as the premise and in my opinion, Evelyn’s murder mystery was not very convincingly solved. But with 7 deaths, you’d come for the time-loop, body-swap murder mystery but stay for lessons on morality, forgiveness, and justice. I’d recommend listening to the audiobook version for a better experience.