Book Review: The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

Do you have to read the book before watching the film/show? I do. Let this review determine if I’ll be switching on Apple TV anytime soon.


Harper Curtis is a killer who stepped out of the past. Kirby Mazrachi is the girl who was never meant to have a future. Kirby is the last shining girl, one of the bright young women, burning with potential, whose lives Harper is destined to snuff out after he stumbles on a House in Depression-era Chicago that opens on to other times.

At the urging of the House, Harper inserts himself into the lives of these shining girls, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. He’s the ultimate hunter, vanishing without a trace into another time after each murder — until one of his victims survives.

Determined to bring her would-be killer to justice, Kirby joins the Chicago Sun-Times to work with the reporter, Dan Velasquez, who covered her case. Soon Kirby finds herself closing in on an impossible truth.


I’ve seen so much hype about The Shining Girls and in some ways it was warranted. For one, this is a pretty unique story. It can be hard to combine real-life storytelling with the paranormal or fantasy or whatever you want to call it. The author did it well.

I also very much enjoyed the characters. Kirby is feisty and will not go down without a fight. I love that in a female protagonist. At the same time, she is a broken, lost soul and this juxtaposition makes her someone you can’t help but warm to. On the other hand, Harper is pure evil. You really should like him. However, if you love a creepy character, he is your man.

Where The Shining Girls fell flat for me was that for a slow burn, not much information was provided. The reader isn’t told why the girls shine for Harper. I would also have liked to know a bit more about the house, ending the book with some clarification as to what was going on there. I can’t say I was utterly disappointed with the ending how it was, but it did feel like there was an awful lot of build up for little reward at the end. The genuine relationship between Kirby and Dan, and the twisted killings by Harper were the saving grace for The Shining Girls. I won’t completely cancel out watching the show but it has been bumped down my list.

Want to give it a try? Pick up your copy here.


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