The Shining Girls.

Author:Beukes, Lauren
Position:Book review

By Lauren Beukes

Lauren Beukes, a South African novelist, journalist, and scriptwriter, is best known for Zoo City (2010), an award-winning hardboiled thriller about an alternate South Africa, and Moxyland (2008), a cyberpunk novel also set in a future South Africa.


THE STORY: When World War I vet and serial killer Harper stumbles into an abandoned house in 1932 Chicago, he soon discovers its supernatural time-traveling powers. On the walls are names of women (his "shining girls") from future decades--written in his own hand, each is the name of a victim he met as a young girl, who then went on to become an extraordinary woman. The depraved murderer travels back and forth through time to kill these women, but he doesn't count on his only surviving "shining girl"--Kirby Mazrachi, a college intern at a Chicago newspaper in 1992--investigating the murders that resemble what was almost done to her. All evidence, of course, suggests that Harper can't possibly exist. But soon, Kirby begins to stalk her former stalker.

Mulholland Books. 384 pages. $26. ISBN: 9780316216852

SciFiNow *****

"[The shining girls'] separate eras are wonderfully rendered and Beukes endears these women who are doomed to meet Harper's knife to us with great speed and skill, from the paranoid Fifties architect to the ship-welding WW2 widow to the radium-painted 'Glow Girl.' The Shining Girls is both a fascinating journey through modern American history and an utterly compelling and chilling thriller." JONATHAN HATFULL

Guardian (UK) ****

"Kirby, digging through newspaper archives and interviewing endless witnesses about unsolved female murders, is enticingly, punkishly tough. ... Grant Beukes her time-travel conceit and you're in for a wild, brutal ride through the 20th century, in the company of one of the sarkiest, most resilient heroines you're likely to meet this year." ALISON FLOOD

Independent (UK) ****

"[Harper] is both a real character into whose heart we look deeply--and are utterly repelled by--and a symbolic representation of the misogyny that has always stopped so many talented women fulfilling their potential. ... The Shining Girls is a finely organised, ingenious triumph." ROZ KAVENEY

SFX ****

"It's a book that finds Beukes lighting out for territory occupied by the likes of Stephen King, Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman, very different writers nonetheless united in...

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