An entire village vanishing without a trace? Say no more. | The Lost Village by Camilla Sten, translated by Alexandra Fleming

Eek, please excuse the stock photo. I’m in the process of moving and haven’t had time to take one myself.


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?
– Goodreads

TL;DR: While the concept and the setting (creepy village in middle-of-nowhere Sweden? Yes, please) are more than promising, the execution of The Lost Village, unfortunately, falls flat – so much so that I wish it were longer! However, the discussions on mental health are necessary and appreciated.

The concept of The Lost Village is *chef’s kiss.* Talk about a hook.

Unfortunately, after finishing all 300+ pages and sitting with it for almost a full 24 hours, when I think of this novel, I think of one word: incomplete. Maybe even deflated. Not necessary because the subject matter is depressing but because The Lost Village could have been So. Much. More.

The novel alternates between two timelines and two perspectives, Alice and Elsa, respectively. Alice is in the present day, and Elsa is 70 years past. 90% of the time, when a book is split into two timelines, I only truly care about the present; however, for this story, I wanted more of the past.

Way more.

I won’t go into details for the sake of spoilers, but let’s just say that all the juicy stuff happens in the past, and we hardly get any of it; instead, we are so focused on establishing the creepy factor of the present that the past is left as the one kid sitting alone in the cafeteria. Honestly, dare I say that this thriller, too, suffers from Molasses Syndrome? Gah.

I honestly can’t say much about the plot without giving away potential spoilers, so the last thing I’ll say is that there is a theme of religion throughout this book, and I feel like the author could have expanded on that so much more – doing so would have elevated this story and the characters’ emotions by tenfold for me.

Speaking of the characters, I liked them enough. They aren’t my favorite at all, but none of them are stupid and the main leads have substantial motivations that I empathized and understood. And speaking of empathy, I do really appreciate the author’s willingness to critique society’s views on mental health, specifically on women. We get to see how mental illness affects each woman throughout the story, and the handling of the effects as well as the experiences that the women go through are heartfelt and believable without being overly dramatic or soapy (thank god!).

With that said, though, I do think one of the characters comes across more ridiculous than realistic; going back to my previous point, I feel like if this character – and the theme and tension that they represent – had been delved into more, this book could have been that much more powerful and haunting.

Ultimately, The Lost Village promises a rollercoaster of a ride with deep themes and a good dose of suspense and creepiness, and though it does have those aspects, the novel only ever skirts the edges and, in the end, just leaves you hanging.

Read: 08/31/22 – 09/02/22

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