- 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 (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 523 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #596,679 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Shining Girls: A Novel Hardcover – June 4, 2013
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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
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Harper Curtis is a serial killer who stumbles onto an abandoned house that opens into other times. Using clues from the house, Harper insinuates himself into the lives of pre-selected girls who "shine" at different periods in modern history. He visits them in their childhood, promising he will visit them later. When he does visit them in adulthood, he murders them brutally. Unbeknownst to him, Kirby Mizrachi, one of his "Shining Girls" survives and is determined to find the man who nearly killed her. Kirby teams up with former Homicide reporter Dan Valesquez to solve the case that has left police baffled.
One thing I really appreciated about this book is that (Possible spoiler?) at no point were there any great leaps of logic on the part of the investigators. Even when the evidence starts to mount, the theory seems fantastical. Additionally, Kirby has done her homework on serial killers. Watching her try to apply clinical criteria that won't fit together is equal parts satisfying and frustrating (satisfyingly frustrating?) because she's smart and she *should* be right but she isn't because the reality is so unreal. The only reason I can't give it a full five stars is that I'm not entirely sure if I like the ending. However, The Shining Girls is a nice addition to serial killer crime fiction that never feels stale or tired.
I think, with the time travel element, and the sentient house element, I mistook it for a work of speculative fiction. It's not. It's a crime a book. And apart from the time travel, there are no mystical elements, it's just one awful man doing awful, awful things. As revolting as he was, the murderer was probably the most interesting character, because Kirby and Dan felt like tired stereotypes. I didn't like anyone in this book, everyone was damaged and uninviting. I think I felt a lot of revulsion and pity while reading this book. One of the other reviews commented that the other Shining Girls were more interesting, and I'm inclined to agree. Margot was fascinating, for the half chapter we got to spend with her.
The worst thing about this book was the feeling of there being no point to my reading it. I persevered because I wanted to know if there was some twist. Some revelation. Something to pull it all together and make me go "Oh yes! I see! How poetic! How incredible!". Something to explain what time travel had to do with anything in this crime novel. But...there wasn't. It was brutal, gory, and a harrowing read, but at the end of it, I didn't get any emotional pay off. There was no reward, or resolution, or anything that justified the emotional energy that this book took from me. I was just glad it was over.
As a crime novel, it's most likely what the fans of the genre expect. For anyone else, I'd recommend caution. It's an intense read for a not-very-satisfying (or even interesting) resolution at the end.
Too much of a success. I found myself getting caught up in the back stories of the victims and enjoying them way more then the major plot. Every time a cool new character is introduced she is gruesomely killed. I feel like, backstory or not, Beukes is still giving the people what they want: extreme depictions of violence against women. Can it really be an empowering exercise if at the end of the day she's still ending her book with a big ol' lady-body count?
In fact, I feel like she defeats her own purpose in other ways as well because the POV of the book is so detached and the reader is forced to spend so much time with the super gross killer (even while he's doing mundane stuff) that I felt myself become a little numb to the horror of it all.
Ultimately, I came away from this book feeling like good research and interesting ideas didn't fully bring this all together in a satisfying way. I do think it's worth reading, if only for the interesting female characters that Beukes creates but, if you are anything like me, you will probably come away wishing they had been the focus instead of the cannon fodder.