The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton

I’ve been seeing this book around for a while now and decided it was time to read it. Having been super busy with work, I knew I’d end up buying it and not reading it for months. Black Friday came around and Audible had a sale on some of the year’s bestsellers, a mere £2.50 per audiobook! Sold!

I downloaded it and spent just over a week listening to it on my way to and from work. Best £2.50 I’ve spent in ages. I would most certainly recommend this.

WINNER OF THE BOOKS ARE MY BAG NOVEL AWARD 2018
SHORTLISTED FOR THE COSTA FIRST NOVEL AWARD 2018
SHORTLISTED FOR THE SPECSAVERS NATIONAL BOOK AWARDS 2018

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn HardcastleYou can buy a signed copy of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcasle by Stuart Turton at Forbidden Planet. 

The problem with an audiobook

Audiobooks can be difficult though, I have a real fondness for a good audiobook read by a good narrator. Unfortunately, the narrator can add or take away so much from the story that they can really make or break it.

Having listened to some audiobooks which I’ve given up on because of the narrator alone, I was pleased by the narrator on this one; Jot Davies has a versatile voice, smooth and with a lot of dexterity. Read in the first person the narrator is integral to the story working.

Since finishing the audiobook I have read some reviews; although overall they are good, there are a few people who do not like the narrator. This is a very personal thing I believe. I found Jot Davies to be a delightful narrator who added to the story for me. Sadly, not everyone felt the same way.

The Story

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a thought-provoking and intriguing story. It is one of the first truly existential pieces of literature that I’ve ‘read’, and enjoyed, in quite some time.

I can’t help but imagine what Stuart Turton’s office must have looked like whilst he was writing this book. The story is not limited to seven different timelines, there are also several other characters whose timelines are relevant and integral to the story, and both the ‘reader’ and Aiden’s ability to solve the mystery of Evelyn Hardcastle’s murder.

For me, I was totally enthralled by this story,  I would happily have read/listened to this story all in one day, I was excited to get to the next host to find out the other perspectives of the timeline, to see if I could solve the murder before Aiden did.

I failed!

Although there were some aspects of the mystery that I did solve, the main murderer was a total surprise. And my surprise was not limited just to the murder. This story contains many twists and turns relating to the identity of Aiden and his counterparts as well as the murder of Evelyn.

I found each of the characters to have depth and Stuart certainly explored many areas of the suspect’s lives, aspects which had a true impact on their place in this mystery.

I have seen this story compared to a cross between an Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes, Groundhog Day and Quantum Leap, all of which seem accurate to me. It is well written, contains twists and turns and I would certainly recommend this book in both audible and written form to anyone who likes a good mystery and a plot twist.

Setting

I do not know when or where this book is set.

It has been compared to the Great Gatsby and I agree. Blackheath is a stately home out in the countryside. There are no real indications of which time period this story is set though, the only technology which is mentioned is an ancient record player and a car which is a little temperamental. No other technology, but in a place like Blackheath, this doesn’t actually narrow it down at all. Often people aim to get away from themselves when they stay in a place like Blackheath. I’d narrow it down to somewhere between the 1920s and 1980s.

The characters all have very different accents, but as it is written and read in the first person and accents aren’t really relevant to the plot, there is no real indication as to the location of Blackheath, it could be the UK, it could be the USA, the only place I know it isn’t based in, is Paris, as that is the only place specifically mentioned in the book.

This lack of location actually only adds to the mystery which surrounds the story and the mystery of Blackheath.

Synopsis

“It is meant to be a celebration, but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed. but Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.

The only way to bread this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath…”

Tin – a young adult novel by Pådraig Kenny

This book is great!

At first glance, I totally misjudged this book. I thought Tin was going to be another re-telling of Oz, I was wrong. Instead, it is an inspiring story which tackles such topics as Empathy, Loss, Prejudice, Discrimination, Love and Friendship. And it does so in such a naturalistic way that you never feel as though you are being preached to, rather that you are on this journey with the main characters and are experiencing each of these through their eyes, through their thoughts and through their feelings and emotions.

Book Cover of Tin

Blurb

Orphan Christopher works for Mr Absalom, an engineer of mechanical children. he’s happy being the only ‘real’ boy among his scrap-metal buddies made from bits and bobs – until an accident reveals an awful truth.

What follows is a remarkable adventure as the friends set out to discover who and what they are and even what it means to be human.

[Taken from book jacket]

About

Tin is Pådraig Kenny’s first book. Published by Chicken House it falls into the category of ‘young adult’. For all you adult readers out there, this should not put you off, in fact, I think it has helped Kenny that this book is classified in such a way. I feel that this could greatly increase his readership.

Tin has certainly opened my eyes to the variety and depth of the young adult market. Gone are the days when all YA books are about shiny vampires and werewolves.

Themes

The themes explored in Tin are quite deep. At first, I had images of reading this book to my nephew (he’s seven) but after getting a little further in, I realised, although he would love the characters and the vivid haphazard environments full of metal and mechanics, there were parts of the story which he would find upsetting.

I think that Tin would most definitely make a good film. With the right director, producer and film studio picking this up, I think Tin could most certainly become a film in the realms of Box Trolls or Coraline.

I can most definitely see Tin being turned into a film or TV series one day. For any of you who have watched films such as ‘box trolls’ or any Tim Burton animation, I would compare its visuality and it’s mismatched characters to them. If Tin does not get picked up by a film company soon, I will be incredibly surprised.

I found that more and more throughout the story, I sided squarely with the mechanical characters and believed the ‘human’ or ‘proper’ characters to be, if not evil, then severely wanting of certain emotions and empathy. More mechanical in nature than the mechanicals themselves. Kenny slips seamlessly between the narrative of children and mechanicals and that of the adult and ‘proper’ characters. Often highlighting the moral subtext and ethical issues through character interaction and description of behaviour rather than their speech.

After finishing Tin, I happened to re-watch Blade Runner. Now, I am not comparing the two as such, but if you enjoyed the ethical suggestions and moral issues which Blade Runner addresses, then this is a good book to read.

Thoughts

I finished this book in under a week, it is the first time I’ve managed to do that in a long time. I would say, that in part, this is because it was such a delight to read.

Tin is an incredibly visual book. Kenny paints such vivid pictures with his words that you are drawn into the environments and become not merely a bystander, but a real part of the action unfolding, you become a character, all be it a silent one, in the story.

The backdrop for Tin is similar, in set up, to a ‘steampunk‘ kind of reality. Except, instead of steam you have mechanicals who seem to be powered by the mechanisms within and a tiny drop of magic. Kenny does such a good job in writing this story that it becomes natural for the reader to suspend their disbelief. I was intrigued as to how the mechanicals operated in the way that they do, but once explained, it seemed to make so much sense that I didn’t really question it.

I do like fantasy and sci-fi novels, but sometimes, when an author chooses magic over science, I do find it slightly hard to swallow. In Tin though, the use of a magical element makes total sense and is not juxtaposed to the mechanics of the era at all. The culture and society, as well as the backdrop for the story, are rural in their heritage. The divergence in our timelines being centred in the World Wars is the perfect way to account for such great difference in our technological advances and history.

Who should read Tin?

I would totally recommend this book to anyone! If you are twelve, then this is a great book. It will offer up moral perspectives which you may not yet have come across in your lifetime as well as a story which will keep you entertained and wanting more every time you have to put the book down. For the avid young reader, this is the perfect book to add to your library. It should be stocked in all school and local libraries.

If you are an adult, then I would equally recommend this book to you. Sod the YA classification for this book. Harry Potter was a YA book and that didn’t stop millions of adults openly reading it. Tin is a great book which opens your eyes to different perspectives associated with the possibility of Technological Singularity and moves away from the classic Terminator-style future we are so used to seeing in most post-apocalyptic sci-fi novels and films.

 

A steamroller vs a hard-drive

It was August 25th in a sunny field in Dorset, people were leisurely going about their day visiting a local steam fair, unaware that the death of a universe was taking place just yards away.

A last goodbye to the Discworld

This was a relatively young universe, as far as one can really measure these things, a mere 34 years old, give or take a few months. It was the home to such characters as Mort, Granny Weatherwax, Rincewind, Sergeant Vimes and Nanny Ogg to name just a few. This universe was, of course, The Discworld.

Discworld
Great A’Tuin and Discworld

Terry Pratchett first introduced us to The Discworld in 1983 in his novel ‘The Colour of Magic’ and since then there have been a further 46 novels set in the Discworld.

Two years ago in March 2015, Terry lost his battle with early onset Alzheimer’s and the literary world lost a genius in storytelling. One of his last wishes was to have his unfinished works destroyed and on the 25th August his former assistant and friend Rob carried out his last wishes, by having the hard drive (containing an approximated ten unfinished novels) run over by a steam roller.

The destroyed hard drive will be available to view at an exhibition to be held in Salisbury Museum named His World.

http://www.pratchetthisworld.com

Shaking Hands with Death - Terry Pratchett

You can buy both Shaking Hands with Death and A Slip of the Keyboard at Forbidden Planet.

 

 

 

Why destroy your work?

Terry is not alone in his desire to have his unfinished work destroyed, in fact, a lot of writers and artists have requested that their unfinished work is destroyed upon their death to ensure that their legacy is kept intact and that no one can finish telling their stories in words that are not their own.

Franz Kafka famously requested that his works be destroyed upon his death. However, his friend Max Brod ignored his request and published his works posthumously. It was, in fact, this great act of betrayal which allowed the world to experience the great works of Kafka.

Rob Wilkins did actually fulfil Terry’s last wish and when the steamroller, Lord Jericho, failed to do a satisfactory job, he used a rock crusher to ensure that there was no rescuing the data. For better or worse, there will be no more Discworld novels and as sad as that makes me, I think it was necessary.

Anyone who read Terry’s last novel will be able to understand why this novel was his last. It was clearly written by a man saying goodbye to the world.

Reading this novel was an emotional roller coaster for me, I spent almost the entire thing in tears. Sometimes these were tears of laughter and sometimes tears of joy and when I got to the last pages, I really didn’t want to finish. There is no denying that this book was his last, he said all he needed to say, he said goodbye.
The Shepherds Crown

You can buy Terry Pratchett’s last novel – The Shepherds Crown at Forbidden Planet.