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The Shining Girls
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on 4 October 2013
I completely loved this book even though it terrified me! Kirby survives a horrific attack as a teenager; she is lucky to be alive but she cannot settle until she has found the man who intended to end her life in a viscous and carefully planned manner.
Harper is a serial killer, he's not particularly smart but his sole focus is to kill the shining girls as he calls them. He takes something from each victim and leaves it with another of his prey.
Kirby begins to investigate but the evidence is baffling. It appears that Harper has been killing women for more than 60 years, but how would be do
that? How would an older man be inflicting such physical violence acts on people much younger than him?
The Shining Girls kept me away at night; Harper is one of the scariest characters that I have ever come across. He is just relentless, there are no discerning features to him, he is pure evil.
This book has split opinion and I think that it mainly due to some of its fantastical elements. These made the book for me. Lauren Beukes delivers a completely original type of psychological thriller of which I am sure there will be many poor imitations.
The Shining Girls is gripping, terrifying and thought-provoking. It is definitely not one to read late at night but it is also not be to missed.
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on 17 January 2014
The majority of the book follows the serial killer and his stalking and murdering of the women, which got too gory for my tastes. I felt too many questions went unaswered. The time travel element was under used; no explanation of why the house and the key allows the murderer to travel through time. Why did this down and out become a killer anyway? A homeless character who steals from the house turned up twice and added nothing to the story. Why not have him helping during the finale?

Our heroine spent most of her time working at a paper and very little time researching the murders. There was never much of a feeling of it being investigated by her. The finale was an anti climax. Why did the Police not see the interior of the house when they investigated it? Kirby, Dan and the homeless guy all climbed in and saw the house interior? Why not have Kirby go back in time and kill the killer and save all the victims?
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on 28 March 2014
The serial killer novel has been done in all sorts of ways before now but The Shining Girls tries to put a slightly different twist on it. What if the serial killer was a time traveler? This leads to all sorts of confusion for the investigators and the reader of this book. However, this is far from a police procedural. This follows the story using flashbacks as well as a narrative from one of the victims. The flashbacks are slightly confusing though as they aren't told sequentially, obviously, so it can be a little hard to follow at times.

The overall tale ends very abruptly and isn't quite as fulfilling as you hope for. However, if you like a mixture of sci-fi and suspense then this does meet the criteria. Just don't expect to be blown away.
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on 24 August 2013
It would seem better to confine this review to a short comment about how it made me feel rather than discussing the content. The reason for this is that to me it is a very interesting mix of genres - thriller, sci-fi and romance. One long review talks about how nothing gets explained - "it just is". This suggests that perhaps this book is a love or hate it job. It also will not appeal to the type of reader who likes a certain type of formula (good or bad) and sticks to that. For me, reading is about roving wildly around the spectrum - sometimes I want to think, sometimes not. Sometimes I want to know the reasons, sometimes it doesn't matter. Romance, sci-fi, thriller, fantasy, etc - it's all up for grabs and this book is unique and easy to read. A comment on a review suggested they would forget about it shortly after reading but it lingers in my mind.
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on 6 July 2014
When my friend recommended a book about a time-travelling serial killer I was immediately hooked. Two of my favourite things squished together into one book? Yes please! I downloaded it onto my kindle right there at the knitting group and started reading it as soon as I was on the bus home, forgoing whatever I had been reading before. I was not disappointed.

In the 1920s a man finds a house that gives him the ability to open the door into different times; all he has to do is think about it. Inside is a wall filled with names and the man soon realises he is supposed to hunt these women down.

Sometimes you find an author who digs her fingers into your brain and picks out all the things that excite you in a book: Lauren Beukes is this author for me. She takes the reader through an effortless whirlwind journey through a large chunk of the twentieth century, building up incredible characters and cutting them down (literally). The eponymous ‘shining girls’ do just that: they shine. Each and every one of them is a vivid character expertly brought to life in just a few short pages.

The only ‘shining girl’ to get away is Kirby and she is the one that shines the brightest. An obstinate, damaged woman, the story follows her attempt to find the man who nearly killed her.

Some parts of this book read like a journey through women’s lifestyles in the past century and it works; for example the woman who ran an illegal abortion outfit in the seventies just before Roe vs. Wade. Beukes brings life to historical events by introducing the reader to the women surrounding them. An excellent book for any feminists interested in a good murder mystery time-travelling tale – especially if you like a bit of gore with your stellar storytelling.
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on 15 June 2013
I got interested in Lauren Beukes after reading her previous, award-winning novel. This new one however just blew me away. Don't want to give away too many plot details but it introduces absolutely brilliant, tough, resilient and believable heroines and chillingly familiar and subtle villains. At the same time it's not simplistic but evokes a fully thought-through world. It's good to see this author achieving prominence. It's not just the plot and characterisation that makes this book such a joyride, it's also the sheer energy and vividness of the language. This is a book to read in one sitting and remember forever. Loved it.
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on 23 June 2018
Gripping story, clever spun plot and strong, very believable characters. Also very well researched, the author put a lot of time and love into this book. I could not put it down until I was finished.
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on 22 August 2014
Not the genre I normally read, but I decided to risk it. While I stuck with it and finished the book, I wasn't keen on the time-travelling aspect - it would have been better if it were a classic thriller. Furthermore, I read it on holiday, and it probably wasn't the best book to read by the pool - a bit dark for a holiday read. I prefer something lighter that sticks to one genre, instead of trying to be a 'thriller' with a little 'something' extra.
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on 26 March 2017
I am a sucker for time travel stories and I also like some crime mysteries such as Harry Bosch, Inspector Banks, Peter Lovesey, etc.
This was a good mix for me. I was fully drawn into the story of the time travelling serial killer. Perhaps the ending could have been different - maybe managing to prevent one of the murders in 1993. I did like the time loops as related to the House and the way that the characters became introduced to it.
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on 14 June 2013
this is somewhat gruesome (but Beuekes doesn't ever shy away from hard stuff at least not in the two other books I've read) - the framing device for the tale here has to be taken as a given (its kind of a pattern for a ghost house as serial killer brainwasher type story) but the two main characters are great and the walk on (and nearly all die) bit parts are very well done too - would make a pretty good (Seven) type movine!
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