“But she was the kind of girl you couldn’t keep down. Unless you cut her up and caved in her skull.”

What is this book about?
Killer Harper Curtis is in trouble with the law when he finds a key to a mysterious house that allows him to travel in time. The mysterious house is filled with strange artifacts all belonging to these shining girls. He, of course, uses the house to track them down, to haunt them and finally to kill them. But one of the girls narrowly escapes death by time travel. This girl, Kirby Mazrachi, turns the tables and starts to hunt down Harper himself through time. Definitely a change from your standard crime novel.

Why is it boring?

Murder story, mystery, crime novel, you know the drill. The Shining Girls isn’t super inventive with the genre, but it is a solid mystery that at least has the added benefit of having the murderer travel through time.

Who would you recommend it to?

Lovers of the mystery genre and people who are interested in reading books written from the perspective of the murderer. It’s interesting to be inside Harper’s head and Beukes does make the murdering very gruesome. She also did a great job writing a historical novel! The book takes place between the 1930’s and 1990’s and even without the whole explanation in the acknowledgements, you notice that author put in a lot of effort to make it historically accurate.

Why should I read it if it’s boring?!

I was wrongly informed about how scary this book was. I don’t remember where I read it, so maybe I made it up myself, but I was expecting this book to be frightening and it really wasn’t. It’s no more scary than any procedural on TV, so there was the initial disappointment. However, the book is very entertaining and definitely exciting. The premise is pretty amazing and something I hadn’t read before. I like that Beukes added a magical element to an otherwise straightforward murder mystery. I did think that Harper could have been a more interesting character. As a serial killer it didn’t become very apparent why he killed, besides being a psychopath, so I think he definitely deserved more of a back story. But Beukes did a great job with the victims. Whenever you switch to the perspective of an unknown female, you just know she’s going to die. When it then finally happens, it still manages to shock you, because you’ve gotten to know the women throughout their chapter. It’s harrowing to see them die, all in the midst of their lives, so there’s definitely some shock value there. Kirby does really carry the story as an intriguing girl who survived an attack by a serial killer, because no one else in the book really jumps out. Unfortunately, the ending is kind of a mess. The inevitable confrontation between Kirby and Harper doesn’t carry as much of a punch as it should have and becomes muddled by time-travel antics. Overall, The Shining Girls is a decent book, entertaining but not ascending above its genre.

Rating: 3/5

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Esmée de Heer is head honcho over at the Bored to Death book club website, writing the daily content and making sure the site stays up and running. She's one of the founding sisters of the book club and enjoys reading and giving unsolicited love advice.

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