Monday, March 22, 2021

ARC Review: The Lost Village by Camilla Sten

Title: The Lost Village
Author: Camilla Sten
Publication Date: March 23, 2021
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Pages: 352
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Documentary filmmaker Alice Lindstedt has been obsessed with the vanishing residents of the old mining town, dubbed “The Lost Village,” since she was a little girl. In 1959, her grandmother’s entire family disappeared in this mysterious tragedy, and ever since, the unanswered questions surrounding the only two people who were left—a woman stoned to death in the town center and an abandoned newborn—have plagued her. She’s gathered a small crew of friends in the remote village to make a film about what really happened.

But there will be no turning back.

Not long after they’ve set up camp, mysterious things begin to happen. Equipment is destroyed. People go missing. As doubt breeds fear and their very minds begin to crack, one thing becomes startlingly clear to Alice:

They are not alone.

They’re looking for the truth…
But what if it finds them first?

When I saw that this book was being compared to The Blair Witch Project and Midsommar, I knew I had to have it! I immediately preordered but was lucky enough to receive and ARC through Goodreads giveaways. I jumped right in... and then put it down. I picked this book up off and on over about a month before finally finishing it. Brief cult mentions set in Sweden does not equal a Midsommar comp. Neither does a documentary film crew equal Blair Witch Project. Those two comparisons definitely set my expectations way too high. Despite being one of my most anticipated reads of 2021, I'm disappointed to say I did not love it. 

The Lost Village is about a documentary filmmaker Alice and her crew, who venture into an abandoned mining village to scout for an upcoming film they hope to make. The village reminded me of Roanoake at first, having suddenly been abandoned without any trace of the inhabitants. I was hoping I would be kept on the edge of my seat. Instead, the first three quarters of the story follows the group moseying around the village, one person getting a sprained ankle, and Alice maybe seeing someone twice. 

The atmosphere is plenty creepy, but nothing really happens for most of the book. I did like that I was never really sure whether the creepiness was supernatural in origin until close to the end. However... 

The big reveal that the other presence was an 80 year old woman who managed to blow up a van, and overpower and kill multiple 30-something-year-old adults was ridiculous. And how did she survive? There was brief mention in the epilogue about the old woman surviving off food in the village homes, but someone please explain how she had enough food to last for 60 years, leaving enough for the film crew to find food to eat once their supplies were destroyed.

I wanted so much to love this book. It did pick up in the final hundred pages and I liked the alternating timelines a lot. I did like the ending explanation for what happened to the residents. I would have honestly preferred if the whole book was set in the past and focused more on the cult aspects. I would not consider this a horror novel. There were some moments of tension and the atmosphere was unsettling, but I never found myself feeling particularly frightened. 

If you're looking for a thriller with a spooky mystery and creepy atmosphere, you'll probably love The Lost Village! If you're hoping for horror reminiscent of Blair Witch, this is not it.