I don’t usually read books this dark with so much violence. Not that I’m against it, it’s just not my thing. Still, I ended up enjoying The Shining Girls. Lauren Beukes is certainly a talented writer and she did a great job in writing a complicated story that was still cohesive and made sense.
The Shining Girls is a bit of a genre mashup. It’s a time travel tale, but it also is very much thriller/horror too. Although there are lots of characters, the story centers on Harper, a creepy killer with access to time travel, Kirby, one of Harper’s victims who miraculously survived, and Dan, an ex-homicide reporter mentoring Kirby. Harper has mental issues and feels called to murder girls that “shine.” Kirby and Dan have a vested interest in catching this psycho, but without knowing that he can time travel, it’s difficult to trace him.
I’m always in awe of complicated time travel novels. There are all these characters spanning decades and the storyline flits from the past to the future and back constantly. It must have been a beast to keep straight while Beukes was writing it. I also really liked how Beukes made a serious effort to humanize Harper’s victims. She gives them all names and backstories and we even get to live in their heads for a little while. They’re not just faceless bodies. It might make the murder scenes more difficult to witness, but maybe that’s how it should be.
If you’re sensitive to animal cruelty/death, you might want to skip this one or at least be forewarned that a dog dies trying to save their owner. I had to skim over that part to get through it.