I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
Published by Mulholland Books on June 4th 2013
Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller, Time Travel
Also by this author: Broken Monsters, Slipping: Stories, Essays, & Other Writing
The girl who wouldn’t die. Hunting a killer who shouldn’t exist.
Chicago 1931. Violent drifter Harper Curtis stumbles upon a house that hides a secret as shocking as his own twisted nature: it opens onto other times.
Harper uses it to stalk his ‘shining girls’ across decades – and cut the fire out of them.
He’s the perfect killer. Unstoppable. Untraceable. Until one of his victims survives and turns the hunt around.
Chicago, 1992. Kirby Mazrachi’s determination to find the man who tried to kill her has taken over her life.
The cops no longer return her calls. Her mother copes by writing morbid children’s books. Her only ally is Dan, the burnt-out ex-homicide reporter who covered her case.
As Kirby closes in on her would-be killer, what she finds is ... impossible. Murders scattered across the decades along with evidence that makes no sense. Meanwhile, Harper is closing in on her, too.
‘Everything happens for a reason. He should be grateful. It’s because he is forced to leave that he finds the House. It is because he took the coat that he has the key.’
Harper stalks his Shining Girls through time and the House helps him. He visits the girls when they are children, takes mementos from them and tells them he’ll be back for them when it’s time. When that time comes, he leaves their bodies with a new memento, one taken from a different Shining Girl. His goal is to kill them all, all who Shine, and his mission is complete. Except one survived. And now she’s the one looking for him.
The writing style is extremely explicit. The murders are terribly graphic and incredibly detailed so if you can’t stomach ‘Dexter’ you’re definitely not going to be able to manage this one. I have quite the stomach for gruesome tales but even this one came close to pushing my boundaries. Added to the gruesome details is the heartbreaking bits. There’s this one scene in particular where one of the women is trying to stop the killer and in the process is telling him about her kids and how she has to be there for them because they’re going to be waking up soon… I’m not much of a softie for sad times but even that got to me pretty bad. Plus, I think it should be mentioned there’s also a gruesome scene involving a dog that may or may not have caused a tear or two.
‘He only has to think of a time and it will open onto it, although he can’t always tell if his thoughts are his own or if the House is deciding for him.’
Much like what karen says in her review of The Shining Girls, this book reminds me very much of Life After Life despite it’s obvious differences. Life After Life isn’t technically time-travel but the transitions through time are quite similar, also both novels lack the scientific backing to support the time-traveling, it’s either believable or it’s not. Both novels had similar writing styles with bouncing back and forth to different times. It shouldn’t make sense and it should be terribly confusing and hard to follow but somehow it manages to make complete and utter sense. Lauren Beukes writes with such confidence though that it really leaves no room for questioning. I never had a doubt.
‘It’s the same tug in his stomach that brought him to the House. That jolt of recognition when he walks into someplace he’s meant to be. He knows it when he sees the tokens that match the ones in the room. It is a game. It’s a destiny he’s writing for them. Inevitably, they’re waiting for him.’
This book blew my mind. I finished it late one night and ended up unable to fall asleep because I simply could not stop thinking about it. There were a few questions that went unanswered that I wish had been but my overall opinion of the book remained bright and shiny. (ha, pun intended) The two things I had issue with her major spoilers but I had to include them. Please do not click if you have any intention of reading this!
View Spoiler »Kirby spent years investigating, trying to find the man who tried to murder her. In the end, he ended up coming back to her after discovering that he didn’t finish the job. The fact that all her researching seemingly amounted to nothing was bothersome. It made me wonder if his other crimes went unsolved or if after being introduced to the House if it made Kirby re-question everything. She saw the Room and saw the names of the other girls so in my mind I’d like to think that even though it wouldn’t have been easily proven at the very least she figured it out in the end. Considering the ending was slightly left open to interpretation, that’s just my interpretation. 🙂 « Hide Spoiler
View Spoiler »Also, we’re given back-story on a lot, like regarding Bartek and the money bag and even a short glimpse of who Harper was in his younger years, but the one scene I kept waiting for was how the Room came to be. Each girls name was in Harper’s handwriting on the walls, it just made me wonder if the Room came together all at once or if it was pieced together over time as he found each of his Shining Girls. « Hide Spoiler
The Shining Girls is a horrid and nightmarish tale but so completely intense and unforgettable that it’s certain to leave a lasting impression. It’s a story possessing such vehemence you practically need a good, strong drink to aid you through it. In honor of the drink the House never failed to provide I recommend a whisky straight-up, no ice.