Title: The Lost Village
Author: Camilla Sten (translated by Alexandra Fleming)
Genre: Domestic Thriller
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Source: ARC via NetGalley (in exchange for an honest review)
Publishing Date: 23 March 2021
I’ve always had a special place in my heart for translated works, especially when they’re Scandinavian — and especially when they’re full of suspense and dark themes. Camilla Sten’s The Lost Village is no exception to this. Like a lot of readers newer fans to Nordic writing, I first dove into Scandinavia with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. In the last year or so, I’ve gone deeper into the darker titles this part of the world has to offer, like Alex North’s books The Whisper Man and In the Shadows. What Sten creates in The Lost Village is slow-burning but suspense-filled page turner that is fueled by our worst enemy: our own minds.
In 1959, the Swedish mining village of Silvertjärn went from brimming with life to empty as if everyone suddenly vanished. Everyone except for a dead woman left in the town center and an abandoned newborn. Alice Lindstedt is a documentary filmmaker working on piecing together what happened that day. Her own family — her grandmother’s parents, sister — disappeared with the rest of the village and no one has ever been able to answer the mystery of what happened. Returning to the empty village with a skeleton-sized crew, Alice is hoping to do two things: get enough good footage to help get her film funded and solve the mystery of the disappearance. What begins as a hook she thinks she wants just to get buzz generated about her film unfolds into a personal mission, fulled by obsession. Nothing is going to stop Alice — not even when some of the crew start going missing.
Fear is a thick fog that creeps into the village and wraps itself around each of the characters, pulling at the threads of each of their psyches. Alice and her crew already had been showing cracks on arrival but the longer they stay in the seemingly empty village, the more their own insecurities take hold of them. Unraveling is imminent, but constructed in such a way that creates a perfect blend of increasing tension and intensity. And part of what helps build this fear is the use of dual timelines in the past and present, giving the reader a clearer picture of what actually happened to the villagers. Or does it? After all, it’s not just the ghosts of the village that Alice and her crew have to worry about. This is actually what I really loved about The Lost Village. It’s not just a story with supernatural horror elements, but asks the reader to consider what ghosts actually are and if we aren’t the ones who are actually haunting spaces. Alice must grapple not just with the truth of her own family history coming to light, but truths about herself, like how far she is willing to go, how much she’s willing to pay to get what she came for. Truths that can haunt her. Truths that can cost her everything — including her life.
Camilla Sten weaves a great story of psychological suspense in The Lost Village that shouldn’t be missed.
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