Sandcastle by Frederik Peeters & Pierre Oscar Lévy

Sandcastle
by Frederik Peeters & Pierre Oscar Lévy
Self Made Hero, 2011

Disturbing and brilliant. Two family groups arrive at an isolated cove for a pleasant day at the beach, watched from afar by an Algerian jeweller. They discover a dead body – a girl the Algerian saw diving into the water a few hours earlier.

Before the story can develop into a murder mystery, the families make the unsettling discovery that the children are undergoing a growth spurt, entering puberty as they watch. Every number they call on their cellphones has been long disconnected, and in the best tradition of nightmares, some invisible force is preventing them from leaving the beach to seek help. Then the older members start dying of extreme age. The child-teenagers sneak off for some ill-fated sexual experimentation. As the sun descends, with nothing to do and nowhere to go, everyone succumbs to the accelerated ravages of time.

There’s no explanation and no relief – on the whole, this has been the worst day at the beach ever.

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