review: The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes


The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes was scary. It wasn’t as horrifying as Chase Novak’s Breed (I’ve never read anything that scary) but it was close. It was brutal, it was gory, it was somewhat surprising. I liked it, and cannot wait to recommend it!

Each chapter begins with a date and a name, transporting readers into a different body and different era. The only time-traveler in the book is Harper who is compelled to kill women he has dubbed his “shining girls” based on the name he has scrawled onto the walls of the house he travels through, and his ability to track them down, knowing little more than their name. He senses them when they are young and tells them that he will return for them. Most of the girls forgot about the strange man. One girl shot into a downward spiral. One girl fought back.

Kirby recovered from Harper’s attack and dedicated all of her time to finding the limping man who maimed her, using skills she acquires as a sports journalist’s intern. Their relationship is full of witty and mature dialogue, dulling the line between intern and boss, but not in a trashy manner.

I thought Beukes’ writing was done well, and the pacing was perfect. I don’t read many mystery novels because I find them to be very formulaic, but this was different.  I wish the time-traveling chapters had included more elements of historical fiction. I wanted to know more about Alice and the traveling circus of the 1940s, About Margot and the sexual revolution of the 1970s. About Zora being the only female and only African-American working as a welder in Chicago in the 1940s. I would’ve accepted another 100 pages if I could’ve read more about that.

Recommended for:
I will absolutely be recommending this to older, mature teen readers as well as adults who like violent mysteries.

The Diviners by Libba Bray, for it’s historical fiction, crime-solving, and magical realism.

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