Winner of the Next Great Novelist Award

A gripping psychological thriller that uses multiple voices to examine a complex moral maze. What really happened at that failed teenage virginity pact 14 years previous? Through a series of confessions and cracked memories, the reader is left as judge and jury as to what happened, and what it might mean.


‘Terrific. A story that’s intriguing, puzzling and entirely gripping.’ – Philip Pullman

‘A compelling and provocative multi-stranded narrative with a high-concept hook, this is a story told in many voices which is always risky but Coulombeau pulls it off beautifully. In a further challenge to the reader, the novel also comes down on the side of there being no such thing as objective truth when it comes to different people’s memories of the same experience. Coulombeau’s unflinchingly clear-headed analysis of the human psyche is deeply refreshing.’ – Sunday Express

‘The reader is taken convincingly in one direction then the other – implying that ultimately, the only truth we ever know is what we feel to be true, even if that is a product of self-delusion. [Coulombeau] Makes fully plausible the shifts in affection, allegiance, even desire, of her young characters, and shows how these shifts can be both terrifyingly quick and deeply felt.’ – The Independent on Sunday

‘A stunning debut. Incredibly well crafted… zips along at a breakneck pace, insisting you return to the start once you’ve finished.’ – Yorkshire Post

‘Smart and sassy and so well-written, this novel leads you into a moral maze and lets you find your own way out. A very clever book that turns you into more than a reader – you become judge and jury.’ – Kathleen MacMahon

‘This fresh, eminently readable novel uses multiple viewpoints to reveal a story of a teenage pact which went horribly wrong. Sophie Coulombeau’s web of lies and self-deception sees characters expose themselves through their own words and questions the existence of objective truth in the murky ambiguity of moral choices.’ – Sally Hughes, We Love This Book (Tip for Man Booker Longlist)

‘Coulombeau has perfectly captured that period of adolescence where you feel like you somehow know everything about life and yet nothing about it at the same time. As soon as I finished reading Rites I wanted to go and tell everyone I know to read it, because it would be a great one to discuss and pick over with a group of friends or a book club.’ – Girl Vs Bookshelf


Winner of the Next Great Novelist Award

Rights Profile

Rights Available
World, all languages except German

Original Language

Samples Available
Full text available in English



Publication Date

June 2012


Rites on the Route website