The Lost Village by Camilla Sten | Publisher: St. Martin’s Press | Genre: Mystery-Thriller | Find it on: Goodreads | Publishing: 23 March 2021
Alice Lindstedt has wanted to know what happened to the 900 residents of an old Swedish mining town dubbed “The Lost Village” since her grandmother told her the story. Alice’s grandmother, who left the mining town shortly before whatever happened there, lost her mother, father, and sister when the residents disappeared. The only clues left behind were the body of a resident–stoned to death–and a screaming baby.
When Alice manages to put together a crew to film a documentary and look for clues she feels certain she’ll find out what happened there. But the town has other ideas. There are figures lurking in the shadows as they sleep, equipment is destroyed, and it’s not long before the documentary crew begins to wonder if whatever happened to the residents of the Lost Village is going to happen to them.
Sten has written a mostly gripping thriller set in Swedish no-man’s land that explores the desperation of people who think they have nothing left. Whether it’s Alice, grasping at the desperate hopes of crowd-sourced funding to finish her documentary, or the residents of The Lost Village–whose story is woven throughout the chapters.
Entering the village, it feels like entering into the beginning of a ghost story. No cell phone reception. No clear roads. No nearby towns. But The Lost Village never quite reaches that fever pitch of a wilderness horror story. A strong beginning starts to plod into a dissection of mental illness and mental disability, the point of which isn’t clear until the last quarter of the book where Sten makes it clear it’s not mental illness that makes a villain (but it can lead others to focus on the wrong suspect).
The ending requires a heavy dose of suspension of disbelief, and I didn’t feel like the story did enough to earn that suspension. I had so many questions about the practicalities of the “twist” I wasn’t able to enjoy the reveal. However, the conclusion to how The Lost Village was lost I found satisfying. (In fact, I think I would have enjoyed a more detailed historical thriller with the same characters than the documentary trope.)
The Lost Village is a decent read for cold, cloudy days, but it doesn’t quite deliver on all its punches.
Read it? Adding it to your TBR? Disagree? Let’s talk in the comments!
*Thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for the review copy!*