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The Shining Girls - review

“There are only so many plots in the world. It's how they unfold that makes them interesting.”  

Title: The Shining Girls
Author: Lauren Beukes

Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Purchased from Foyles
Buy it: Here  


Synopsis

Kirby is the accidental survivor of an horrific and brutal attempted murder at the hands of a vicious serial killer. However, while she interns with the retired cop who worked on her case, trying to convince the world of the serial nature of his crimes proves difficult as dates and artifacts present an impossible circumstance: A time-travelling murderer, killing women with shining potential.

Review

The Shining Girls takes a bit of a leap of faith. This is crime-sci-fi and everything about it shouldn't work, but once you release yourself to it, and just go with it, it is a brilliantly rewarding read.

The best thing about The Shining Girls are the shining women themselves. We meet many of them as the killer tracks them, lures them and eventually murders them.They are amazing women who shine because of their potential - political, artistic, knowledgeable and pioneering - the shining girls fight for their beliefs and fight for others. I particularly enjoyed Alice's character, and I kind of wished to read more of her before she died. Perhaps she could have a novella spin-off all of her own?!

The time-travel element of the book takes a bit of getting used to. The dates jump all over the place. Thank goodness I bought this book in paperback and not digitally, as I was flipping back every two seconds to remember what year it was! However, if you are willing to put a bit of work in to keep up with it all, it's a brilliant addition that turns The Shining Girls from a traditional crime genre book into something appealing and new to more than one reader-group. Yes it's supernatural, but it's woven so brilliantly into the action, it won't feel like it. I hope it wouldn't put crime fans off.

Lovers of crime fiction will find familiarity amongst the sci-fi, though, in Harper, the girls' predator; the uncompromising brutality of his life, destructive since childhood and darker than the shadows in the night. I thought he was a brilliantly hate-able criminal. I read in the Q&A with the author at the back of the book that she delighted in hurting him for what he did at every opportunity and I can see this is true. Harper doesn't walk away from the women he hunts unscathed and I liked that their strength is not always entirely extinguished by their killer. They leave their mark, regardless.

Some parts of this novel were quite graphic reading. There are some descriptions of violence - especially towards animals - that may upset unwarned readers. I think that considering the character they relate to, these instances were relevant and therefore not gratuitous, or there simply to shock, but some may find one or two sections a little too much. 

Overall

I really enjoyed The Shining Girls for it's dark plot, despicable killer and bold direction. I didn't think mixing sci-fi with crime would work but I was pleasantly surprised. The array of potential in the characterised Shining Girls made this book a celebration of life and an inspiration to make the most of it's fleeting nature, despite the death across the pages. Recommended for all crime lovers, and I think it would please fans of dark fiction too.

Score 
★★★


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