Grégoire Courtois - A haunting avant-garde thriller. Part fairy tale, part horror film, this macabre fable takes us through the minds of all the members of this doomed party, murderers and murdered alike.

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Grégoire Courtois, The Laws of the Skies, Trans. by Rhonda Mullins, Coach House Books, 2019.




Twelve six-year-olds and their three adult chaperones head into the woods on a camping trip. None of them make it out alive.
The Laws of the Skies follows the terrified children as they scatter into the night to escape danger, dressed only in their pajamas. They face their darkest childhood fears and new imaginary threats, like trolls masquerading as boulders and child-eating tree trunks. A harrowing story of those days in the woods, of illness, poisoning, and accidents; of a love triangle among tots; a pint-sized hero; and a child on a murderous rampage that comes to a grisly end. Part fairy tale, part horror story, this macabre fable takes us through the minds of all the members of this doomed part, murderers and murdered alike.


Winnie-the-Pooh meets The Blair Witch Project in this very grown-up tale of a camping trip gone horribly awry. Twelve six-year-olds and their three adult chaperones head into the woods on a camping trip. None of them make it out alive. The Laws of the Skies tells the harrowing story of those days in the woods, of illness and accidents - and a murderous child. Part fairy tale, part horror film, this macabre fable takes us through the minds of all the members of this doomed party, murderers and murdered alike.


Courtois’s first novel to be translated into English, a haunting avant-garde thriller, begins like a fairy tale but winds up more like a Friday the 13th movie. Twelve six-year-old schoolchildren leave their parents for a weekend at camp with their teacher Frederic and two chaperones; readers know from the first page that none of them will return. Death and fear seem to stalk the children, not a natural fear but “all the fears that used to fill our days and our imaginations... in the dark, with the whispers of the trees and the invisible beasts.” The adults try to calm the students with fables and campfires, but violence erupts when the sociopathic—if not altogether evil—child Enzo bludgeons Frederic to death with a rock before turning his attention to his fellow students, whom he hunts one-by-one throughout the night that follows. Alone in an unforgiving nature and soon separated from any semblance of adult supervision, the brutality of the world is suddenly laid bare for children. Among them, the precociously mature Hugo dares to take a stand against Enzo in a desperate attempt at survival. Unflinching in its savagery, the nightmarish poetry of this modern Lord of the Flies is undeniable. Courtois writes that “a story without a point destroys civilization a little,” and far from being an exercise in idle cruelty, this wicked novel plumbs the darkest reaches of childhood fears and finds plenty to be afraid of. - Publishers Weekly

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