The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

First published in Issue 15 of Hit and Miss Magazine

If you want a brain twisting thriller with an amazing strong female protagonist then this is the book for you. Jumping between time periods the story follows Harper Collins who does the bidding of the House in a gruesome and unforgiving way, and Kirby; the victim who lived, but really shouldn’t have done.

I have to be honest, it took me a couple of goes to get into this book, the first time I started it I got incredibly confused by the chapters changing time periods but on the second attempt I could barely put it down. It’s been a long time since I’ve had that lovely feeling of wanting to be reading every second of the day but never wanting the book to end.

The characters are all very well developed, even the girls that we get glimpses of before they are murdered have whole lives and could sustain much more of the story if it was required of them, unfortunately Harper gets there before that can happen.

The idea that Harper is somehow controlled by The House is infinitely spooky, the scene where Beukes described the shifting names of the Shining Girls on the wall made me wish I wasn’t reading it home alone in the middle of the night. Kirby is written like she is a real woman, not some sort of cartoon character from a writer that doesn’t really know how to write women that you get in some books. She is funny, sharp and sarcastic and in no way is she a victim. Beukes could have so easily fallen into the trap of writing her as a ‘woe is me, won’t someone rescue me’ typical female role in a thriller way but she didn’t. Even at the beginning when Kirby is a child and meets Harper for the first time, she is a smart arse. And God knows I love a smart arse.

This book is so totally weird; it’s about a time traveling serial killer who is controlled by a house and collects objects and a girl who was almost-completely murdered but managed to drag her intestines back inside her body and survive. It is horrifying and gruesome and terrifying but it is excellent, so just deal with all the gory weirdness and read it.

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