Review: The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

March 13, 2015 4 stars, Audio Book, Book Review 8 ★★★★

Review: The Shining Girls by Lauren BeukesThe Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
Published by Hachette Audio, Mulholland Books on June 4, 2013
Genres: Adult SFF, Horror, Thriller
Pages: 375
Length: 10 hours, 36 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library or Borrowed
Buy on Amazon


The future is not as loud as war, but it is relentless. It has a terrible fury all its own."

Harper Curtis is a killer who stepped out of the past. Kirby Mazrachi is the girl who was never meant to have a future.

Kirby is the last shining girl, one of the bright young women, burning with potential, whose lives Harper is destined to snuff out after he stumbles on a House in Depression-era Chicago that opens on to other times.

At the urging of the House, Harper inserts himself into the lives of the shining girls, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. He's the ultimate hunter, vanishing into another time after each murder, untraceable-until one of his victims survives.

Determined to bring her would-be killer to justice, Kirby joins the Chicago Sun-Times to work with the ex-homicide reporter, Dan Velasquez, who covered her case. Soon Kirby finds herself closing in on the impossible truth . . .

THE SHINING GIRLS is a masterful twist on the serial killer tale: a violent quantum leap featuring a memorable and appealing heroine in pursuit of a deadly criminal.


I’ve been wanting to read The Shining Girls for a long while now and I’m so glad I finally took the time to give it a try. I’m sure anyone that enjoys thrillers featuring twisted serial killers will find this one an engaging read. When you include the fantasy element of a spooky time traveling house it adds another layer of complexity to the story that you won’t get from your typical contemporary thriller.

The story is told from multiple perspectives but there are really two main characters. One of which is the serial killer Harper. I always enjoy seeing from the villain’s perspective because I really like experiencing their rationale Anne thought processes behind the acts they commit.

The shining girls oh how they shine

Harper becomes the resident of a house that has the ability to transport the occupants to different times. He then uses that ability to hunt and kill his “shining girls.” What makes these girls shine to him is never really specified which was a bit of a sticking point for me but then who can ever really know the why’s of a psychopath? All of the women couldn’t be more different and definitely don’t seem to fit a typical pattern. I was surprised that we also get to see very short sessions of perspective from several of these women before they are murdered.

I immensely enjoyed the story. Normally I am very picky about things like jumps on time period but here it worked perfectly for me and I liked the twisted way things fell into place as Harper stalked the girls through time from when they were young to revisit then again when they had grown hop.

The girl who lived

The other main perspective is that of Kirby, the only one of the women to survive an attack by Harper. The level of detail given over to these scenes are visceral. As I listened I could see these things happening and sympathize with the women. The way the author handled each scenario was superbly done because each woman wasn’t just a nameless face. We spent some time reading from their perspective getting to know them and things such as their worries, fears and hopes. This made the assaults and subsequent murders all the more personal. But with Kirby since we spend half the book with and don’t jump right to her assault I had time to really get attached to her and see how the incident shapes her life afterwards. While she does let the stigma of the attempt on her life and how brutal it was isolate her from others it also gives her a kind of drive that she might not have had otherwise. She is a determined to find the man who put her through that. Ultimately I think she still remained who she was which I loved seeing how well the author handled her character. Usually when I read books such as this the character simply just becomes a stereotypical “victimized” character furthering the plot in the direction the story is going rather then continuing to be a real character. So kudos there for a job well done as Kirby is just as full of sass at 20 something as she was at age 6.

Is the house just a house?

The questions, aren’t there always questions? There were a few things that were either never explained or not quite fully fleshed out. The house seems to have a sinister feel to it but is that only because Harper is using it to ill ends? Is it sentient as Harper might believe, or is the house just a house with a special time traveling quality to it? And how IS it able to time travel? I don’t know if I really want any of those questions answered because I think the story works well leaving such questions out there unanswered, but they are things I couldn’t help asking myself nonetheless.

My thoughts about the audio book

I’m so glad I went with the audio book version because the narration was fabulous. I believe this was the first audiobook I’ve experienced where there was more then two narrators. It took me awhile to get used to the switches in voices but I thought each of the narrators chosen really complemented the parts they were chosen for. I’m so used to hearing a single voice narrate and differentiate the character voices with their tone and inflection that hearing all the different narrators instead was a bit of a treat. I highly recommend giving this one a try especially if you haven’t experienced an audio book with multiple narrators.

The Shining Girls is the first book I’ve read by Lauren Beukes but I am definitely going back for more and have already grabbed two of her other books, Zoo City and Broken Monsters.

Stalk me!

Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
Stalk me!

Latest posts by Tabitha (Pabkins) (see all)

8 Responses to “Review: The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes”

  1. Catherine

    This sounds really interesting. I love it when we get to read scenes from the villain’s point of view. I’m not sure if I will give this a try… but your great review definitely has me considering it! :]
    Catherine recently posted…Kraken Bake: Review CopyMy Profile

  2. Steph

    Did the audio book have the postscript written by Beukes? I have to say that it was one of the few times the author notes really struck me and I read them all the way through.

    I also have picked up her other books and hope to read them sometime this year. I was just recommending her to someone who was a fan of Gillian Flynn the other day. IMO, Beukes is better!
    Steph recently posted…Sunday Short: David D. Levine’s DamageMy Profile

  3. Nikki

    I’ve been meaning to read this for aaaages, though I wasn’t a big fan of Broken Monsters… *crosses fingers for liking this one*
    Nikki recently posted…Book NecklacesMy Profile