Review: The Lost Village by Camilla Sten

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★★★½

Minotaur Books | 2021

Filed Under: Patrick Swayze’s subway ghost friend


If you wouldn’t spend a weekend camping in a probably haunted abandoned town with a nefarious past then we can’t be friends.

I’m not saying it’s at the top of my travel bucket list, but it’s definitely on there. Chernobyl? Yes, please! You wouldn’t want to go there? Minus all the radioactive nuclear issues and other terrible shit that happened, it’s got to be interesting and creepy. Who doesn’t want that out of a vacation?

Going into abandoned homes, snooping through all the stuff left behind like a time capsule – that’s a dream! A dream I’ll probably never get to do in real life, so a novel might be as close as I can get.

The Lost Village is all of these things, so fucking duh I was going to read it.

angry scott pilgrim vs the world GIF

Alice is making a documentary about an old mining town that was abandoned in 1959 when all its residents disappeared, seemingly into thin air. No one was ever able to find them – not the cops, not the curious visitors, not the vultures… if there are vultures in Sweden? I don’t know? I’ve never claimed to be worldly or smart or good at geography. MOVING ON.

How does a whole town just disappear? Not without some fucked up shit in the works, as this book will tell you. And for the most part, it was pretty entertaining.

Larry David Hbo GIF by Curb Your Enthusiasm

Alice, armed with letters from her grandmother who has ties to the old village, brings a small crew of friends to help her do as much research, location scouting and footage collection as possible for the documentary. They plan to camp out in the town square for six days, getting work done. Alice is so pumped to begin this documentary that it’s a bit infectious to the reader. I only wish we could have had more interaction with the documentary side of the plot.

We don’t though because almost immediately mysterious things start to happen around their camp – figures are seen, things are stolen, a member of the crew goes missing and their cars are blown up.

I don’t know that I’ve ever heard of a ghost planting explosive devices, but you know, maybe they had a really long time to work on picking up bomb pieces using their spooky vapour hands like the dude from Ghost. If you don’t get that reference, we seriously can’t be friends.

patrick swayze ghost GIF by Maudit

The author spends a lot of time creating themes of mental health issues among the women in the novel – both past and present – with a conscientious approach. Mental illnesses aren’t used as a gimmick or a reason that someone is untrustworthy, you know because they’re “crazy.” Instead, we see the many ways women are dismissed, labelled and abused because of mental illnesses; how relationships can be ruined or strained because of those struggles, and how a lack of knowledge in the past around mental issues would lead to some really ignorant, fucked up actions.

Also, there’s some cult shit. And you know how much I love a cult. Not to join for me, but definitely to dissect later.

The letters included in the novel from 1959 leading up to the demise of the village, tell the story of a charismatic pastor taking over the local church and then some bad shit happens. Because obvi. This aspect of the plot was my absolute favourite. It was sinister and ominous, just a whole ass vibe.

When I’d go from those letter moments back to Alice, the transition felt clunky and it was obvious that the story threads were on different planes of existence. Alice’s chapters had a B-movie horror quality to them occasionally, like being chased by Jason in the woods. It didn’t totally mesh.

But overall, this was creepy and constantly escalating. The team comes apart as they are hunted or haunted by something in the old village, secrets are revealed and mysteries are solved. The pace was a little slow at first, but it did eventually pick up around the halfway mark.

I still don’t know how I feel about the fucking ending, but it had to end in some way, so whatever.

Not necessarily a traditional horror novel, but it’s got just enough bits and pieces for horror readers and thriller lovers to both come together on this one. And isn’t that what the world needs right now?

guitar singing GIF by Cartoon Hangover

🔪🔪🔪


The Blair Witch Project meets Midsommar in this brilliantly disturbing thriller from Camilla Sten, an electrifying new voice in suspense.

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? 

6 thoughts on “Review: The Lost Village by Camilla Sten

  1. You are my favorite.

    Also so glad we CAN still be friends because – apparently we are going to go to Chernobyl and learn how to be like the guy in ghost together – I have decided this.

    Great review I still need to read this one.

    Liked by 1 person

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