The Shining Girls

Lauren Beukes
The Shining Girls Cover

A Strong Statement About Violence...


An intriguing story and a strong statement about violence. I did find the time-traveling house/persona of Curtis Harper to be a rather weird mechanism. Without that aspect, this would have been a more typical serial-killer mystery story - albeit a well-written one. Tossing in the house introduced a science-fictional element that felt a bit contrived - but it was still an interesting conceit.

Characterization is (mostly) strong. The abhorrent and rather casual violence turned me off a bit during the narrative but it was interesting to read the afterword where Beukes talks about the violence and how she intentionally wrote it the way she did. That helped to shift my perspective. The one character that didn't work too well for me was Curtis Harper - the time-traveling serial killer. Arrogant, condescending, and completely amoral, he was just too evil for belief. Even his internal monologues did not help me empathize with him. Maybe I just don't have enough latent serial-killer in me to 'get' the mindset? Making up for the caricature of Harper was Kirby and many of the other characters - who I found much more sympathetic and complex. Even Dan, mostly a(n important) side character, seemed more solidly developed than Harper.

But what worked best for me was the tight plot. I really liked how Beukes tied everything together as the story rushed to a climax. All in all, this is a strong piece of writing that will make me look for more titles from Beukes in the future.