The Shining Girls
By Lauren Beukes
Mulholland Books, 2013. 375 pages. Science Fiction
Harper Curtis isn't your standard serial killer: thanks to a strange, dilapidated house he discovered in a 1920s Chicago slum, he's able to travel through time killing his "shining girls," or as he puts it, "young women burning with potential." Since he can slip through time, every one of his crimes are perfect . . . until he tries to kill young Kirby Mazrachi in 1989 and fails. Barely.
By some miracle, Kirby survives Harper's brutal attack. Now in college and working as an intern for the Chicago Sun Times, Kirby allies herself with a washed-up homicide reporter, Dan, to try and track down her killer. As remarkable and impossible as the task seems, the duo begins piecing together clues Harper has left scattered through history. It's not long before Harper realizes that Kirby's survived, and that she's looking for him. Rather than be caught, he vows to finish the job he started back in 1989. Unable to outrun the killer, Kirby and Dan must find a way to outwit him before it's too late.
Beukes' genre-bending novel is a science fiction masterpiece, blending in elements of horror and hard-boiled detective fiction. The tension is heightened by the shifting points of view and the novel's non-linear format, in which Beukes gives readers glimpses of Kirby and Dan's (horrifying) future hundreds of pages before the events come to pass. Beukes excels particularly at rendering Harper's victims as three-dimensional, which only makes his knife cut deeper into the reader. With gorgeous prose and enough gore to make even seasoned horror readers squirm, The Shining Girls is a perfect read for a gloomy October day.