Thursday, August 11, 2022

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Book Review

‘The Shining Girls,’ brilliant genre-bending


BookCourtesy of Beaverdale Books

Review by Julie Goodrich

Mulholland Books



CNA - Stop HIV Iowa

375 pp.

Lauren Beukes’ first two books, “Moxyland” and “Zoo City,” were tragically overlooked. For those of us who caught on early, the enormous success of this gritty suspense novel is no surprise. Damaged characters slink into your heart. Crackling action steals your breath. This is supernatural realism at its best.

This is the story of a brutal killer who stumbles upon an impossible house. A ramshackle from the outside but full of luxury and horror on the inside, it provides a rich setting for the stories of murderer and victim. Simply by thinking it, the house allows its occupant to travel through time, haunting, stalking and eventually destroying the eponymous shining girls. Bright, driven and passionately alive, these girls possess an unnamable something that makes them shine like stars. It’s that light the killer strives to put out and he is almost always successful.

Despite a brutal attack from the vicious killer, Kirby overcomes long odds to survive. She still shines alright — with angry sarcasm, isolation and a fanatical need to find her attacker. Kirby will use anyone and anything she can to find him, including a washed up reporter named Dan, who reluctantly gets drawn into the case. Together they unravel the impossible mystery in bits and pieces. Glimpses of the murder — his horrific deeds and the secrets of the house that straddle decades of Chicago history — are interspersed throughout Kirby’s story.

Bits of history mix with mystery and a touch of supernatural dances with crime. This is a coming-of-age story wrapped in horror. This genre-bending book has a brilliant premise with sharp writing — the kind of story that leaves you panting for more. CV

Julie Goodrich is a collector of pretty words, geeky T-shirts and obsolete college degrees. She lives in Grimes with two weird cats and an obscene number of books. She recently earned her master’s degree in library science and is actively looking for a job. Know of one? Call her!

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