Book Review: The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Science-Fiction

Publishing Info: April 2013 by Harper (first published 2012)

Pages: 391

Star Rating: 3/5

Back Cover Summary:

The girl who wouldn’t die, hunting a killer who shouldn’t exist…
A terrifying and original serial-killer thriller from award-winning author, Lauren Beukes.

1930’s America: Lee Curtis Harper is a delusional, violent drifter who stumbles on a house that opens onto other times.

Driven by visions, he begins a killing spree over the next 60 years, using an undetectable MO and leaving anachronistic clues on his victims’ bodies.

But when one of his intended ‘shining girls’, Kirby Mazrachi, survives a brutal stabbing, she becomes determined to unravel the mystery behind her would-be killer. While the authorities are trying to discredit her, Kirby is getting closer to the truth, as Harper returns again and again…

The premise of The Shining Girls excited me when I first read the blurb: a time travelling serial killer? Sounds interesting. Perhaps I set my expectations too high. It was a bit of a let-down for me, and not as good as I was hoping. I felt the author could have done so much more with this interesting, creepy idea.

The structure didn’t do anything for me. It switches back and forth with lots of different points of view in lots of different time frames which left me feeling rather confused. Most elements of mystery/suspense were taken out by the fact that we know the ‘answer’ to the mystery Kirby is trying to solve because the first person point of view of the serial killer is included. I didn’t feel motivated to keep reading and wasn’t intrigued like I like to feel when reading mystery/thriller. It was just lacking in tension and suspense.

The characters could have been developed more. They felt quite flat, their personalities not really showing through, particularly in the main characters.

It was quite repetitive, with lots of time given to each of the murders Harper committed. The only thing I liked about this part was that the author gave some details about each of the victims that made them like real people rather than just unfortunate victims.

The ending was a bit abrupt and I personally would liked to have seen more resolution. The little epilogue at the end was quite clever though and brought the end in a loop back to the beginning.

This concept had so much potential but I just wasn’t a fan of the way it was executed and found myself checking frequently how much longer it was before I finished it. Ironically, it lacked shine, it lacked the spark of something special to me.

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