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The Shining Girls: A Novel Hardcover – June 4, 2013

3.6 out of 5 stars 464 customer reviews

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Hardcover, June 4, 2013
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Harper Curtis isn’t your run-of-the-mill serial killer. He gets to time travel from the 1920s through the 1980s, killing girls in different decades, all to satisfy a bloodthirsty Chicago bungalow. Yes, you read that correctly: the house makes him do it. In this genre-bending novel, Beukes never explains the origins of this evil house or how it manages to transport Harper from year to year. All we know is that Harper is compelled to track down and murder specific “shining girls” in gruesome ways (usually evisceration), and he gets away with it since he can escape across time. Until he leaves Kirby Mazrachi behind in 1989, that is. Kirby miraculously recovers from the vicious attack and is determined to track down her assailant, even if the police consider it a closed case. She enlists the help of Dan, a reporter at the Sun-Times, and they slowly uncover odd clues left behind in a dozen unsolved murder cases; it turns out Harper has been leaving behind items from the future. Not for all tastes, but fans of urban fantasy may be interested in this clever and detailed supernatural thriller. --Rebecca Vnuk


"Intriguing...Beukes deals with slightly surreal things in very real ways. I'm all over it."―Gillian Flynn, O magazine

"A grisly crime thriller meets sci-fi action meets historical fiction in a wildly inventive summer page-turner."―Entertainment Weekly

"One of the scariest and best-written thrillers of the year, not to mention the most memorable portrait of a serial killer since Henry H. Holmes in....Erik Larson's 2003 nonfiction bestseller The Devil in the White City."―Chicago Sun-Times

"A triumph ... [T]he smart and spunky Kirby Mizrachi is as exciting to follow as any in recent genre fiction ... [E]ach chapter in which [Harper] appears holds a reader's attention, especially the sharply described murder scenes - some of which read as much like starkly rendered battlefield deaths out of Homer as forensic reconstructions of terrible crimes ... This book means business."―NPR.org

"[Beukes is] so profusely talented - capable of wit, darkness, and emotion on a single page - that a blockbuster seems inevitable....The Shining Girls marks her arrival as a major writer of popular fiction."―USA Today

"The premise is pure Stephen King, but Beukes gives it an intricate, lyrical treatment all her own."―Time

"THE SHINING GIRLS is utterly original, beautifully written, and I must say, it creeped the holy bejasus out of me. This is something special."―Tana French

"A tremendous work of suspense fiction. What's more, it's a fabulous piece of both time-travel and serial killer fiction, using the intersection of those two themes to explore questions of free will, predestination, and causality in a mind-melting, heart-pounding mashup that delivers on its promise."―Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing

"I loved THE SHINING GIRLS. It really is a new kind of thriller, sitting somewhere between The Time Traveller's Wife and The Silence of The Lambs. A dark, relentless, time-twisting, page-turning murder story guaranteed to give you heart palpitations. It shines."―Matt Haig, author of The Radleys

"Very smart...completely kick-ass. Beukes' handling of the joints between the realistic and the fantastic is masterful, and those are always my favorite parts, in this kind of story. Not the weirdness (which is itself superb here, and very ample) but the segue to it. The liminal instant."―William Gibson

Unreservedly recommended."―Joe Hill

"One of the summer's hottest books."―Wired.com

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Mulholland Books; 1 edition (June 4, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316216852
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316216852
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (464 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #565,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Lauren Beukes writes books, comics for DC Vertigo, movie scripts, TV shows and occasionally journalism.

She won the Arthur C Clarke Award and The Kitschies Red Tentacle for Zoo City, a gritty phantasmagorical noir about magical animals, pop music, refugees, murder and redemption in the slums of inner city Johannesburg. She is currently adapting the novel as a screenplay for Oscar-nominated producer Helena Spring.

Her debut novel, Moxyland is about a neo-corporate apartheid state, bio-engineered art, nano-branding, cell phones used for social control and terrorism.

The Shining Girls, out May/June 2013 is about a time-travelling serial killer.

She recently made her comics debut in the Fables universe with a Fairest mini-series called The Hidden Kingdom with art by Inaki Miranda. The six issue arc follows Rapunzel travelling to Tokyo to confront a dark secret from her past.

She also writes for kids TV shows including Florrie's Dragons and Mouk and co-created South Africa's first half hour animated show: The Adventures of Pax Afrika.

She's a recovering journalist, who has covered everything from wannabe teenage vampires to township vigilantes and directed a documentary, Glitterboys & Ganglands about South Africa's biggest female impersonation beauty pageant, which won Best LGBT at the Atlanta Black Film Festival.

She lives in Cape Town, South Africa, with her husband and daughter.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a novel that is not easily classified. At it's heart, it is the story of a depraved serial killer on the scale of Jack the Ripper. He murders "Shining Girls". The twist to this story is that he does his dirty deeds while travelling back and forth in time to any year between 1931 and 1993. The time travel takes place via a special house that he sort of stumbles upon in 1930's New York. None of the paranormal details are really explained. It's just a given. The story sticks to the premise of following the killer named Harper as he finds his shining girls usually as young children and then returns to them years later when he murders them. The one exception is a spitfire of a girl named Kirby. Harper is interrupted in his "fun" with Kirby so she manages to survive although she is terribly scarred. Kirby goes on to become a journalist and enlists the aid of a fellow reporter to help her investigate murders which are similar in nature to what was done to her. Strange inconsistencies begin to show up in the details of the crime scenes which evenutally leads Kirby to a showdown with Harper. The writing for this work is flawless. The action flows seamlessly from person to person and from one era in time to another without losing focus or intensity. The characters are affecting. You either love them or loathe them which is what ultimately makes a novel something to remember. I can't remember a meaner, nastier murderer than Harper since perhaps the likes of Hannibal Lecter. Kirby, on the other hand, is a young woman full of spirit and determination. You are instantly in her corner and rooting for her to win. The details with which each crime is described including the period of time in which it occurs is done very authentically. It feels real as you read it.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes starts off promising, and much like the titled 'shining girls, it's promise is short lived and snuffed out too early.

As a fan of murder-mystery novels with intriguing female leads AND a Chicago resident, I was so ready to like this book. The beginning had me reading right through it out of excitement, and half way through I was reading it because I wanted to get it over with... here are a few reasons.

1. Chicago- The city makes a great backdrop for travelling through time, and Laura's rendering of the city is very lifelike. At some point, the details become redundant and the city streets, monuments & esoteric Chicago references come off as almost 'name-dropping' and thrown in just to remind you 'This book takes place in Chicago!!' While it is intended to serve as an anchor to the location, it ended up pulling me out of her world.

2. The Characters- Where do I begin? None of them were really interesting or multidimensional. Kirby, the surviving Shining Girl was constantly using sarcasm to keep others at bay, unfortunately that included the reader. Dan, the supporting character, fell flat for me as well, and much of the dialogue between him and Kirby left me cringing. Some of the most interesting characters were the Shining Girls, whose time in the book was fleeting and underdeveloped. The killer himself was more interesting, but I credit that to the time-travel.

3. The Violence- It certainly was a gory, bloody affair in the Shining Girls, and I understand that you are going to get that in a murder novel. I think the violence felt wasted in this disappointing novel. It really came off more as violent torture porn.

This book hooks you in an ultimately disappoints you.
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Format: Paperback
I really wanted to like this book. I mean, I was biased from the get go. Moxyland (Angry Robot) is a flawed but brilliant work of angsty brilliance mixed with sci-fi.Zoo City is one of my favorite books, a seedy noir fandango through a Other-Earth South Africa.

Lauren Beukes "Shining Girls" is an attempt at a time-travel thriller, which works on a few levels, but is seriously lacking something from her previous two books.

The killer is revealed much to early. She sets him up as a slightly twisted man on the run, which he plunges into complete madness immediately the second he enters into the house. There is another force at work that is never explained. He's repeatedly described as "charming", but the reader is never charmed. And the amount of times he gets physically damaged just to get up and carry on killing is border-line insulting to my believability-meter. He just does what he does because the author needs a time-traveling baddy.

And it's such a pity that we're stuck riding shotgun with him for most of the book. Kirby is way too damaged for me to have any real connection with her. She bats others away with sarcasm without any real insight to her real feelings, thus locking both the people who want to help her out of her life and the reader from who she really is under the sass. Not my favorite heroine ever.

The other characters are much more "real", but I think without the Killer running around doing unfathomable things, they would have fallen flat.
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