The Lost Village is a suspenseful thriller about amateur filmmaker Alice Lindstedt as she travels to investigate a "lost" town in Sweden where all of the residents--including her grandmother's family--mysteriously disappeared decades ago. No one since then has been able to uncover what happened to the residents or why there was one baby who was left in the village.
I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. The atmosphere that the author developed was one of the strongest points, and it really made me feel as though the lore and mystery around this village was tangible and intimidating. I also enjoyed the author's decision to write the narrative with 'then' and 'now' chapter perspectives, which allowed us to follow Alice in the present as she attempted to uncover the strange happenings of the town, as well as allowed us to get a glimpse into what life was like in the town and what may have gone wrong that led to the disappearance.
Despite the positives, I was also disappointed in story arc overall in regard to plot developments and 'twists.' I also didn't really care for any of the characters and found myself not overly invested in any of their goals, personalities, or emotions while exploring the village. Alice, our protagonist, was a character filled with determination to not only discover what happened to her grandmother's family and the rest of the village members, but to prove herself as a documentary filmmaker and get her project funded on a fundraising website. I never doubted Alice's commitment to the project, and I think Sten did a good job of balancing Alice's personal motivations with the practical ones. However, I was frustrated by how Alice acted and planned out their trip to the town. I felt like it was repeatedly mentioned how Alice prepared extensively for this trip, but there were so many things that didn't feel properly planned for and seemed to be in need of some common sense. Maybe it was supposed to be this way in order to show Alice's newness to filmmaking and being a leader and embarking on a project such as this, but I found it disjointed and frustrating.
The rest of the characters added some needed excitement to the story, but at the same time I didn't find any of them overly compelling. The dynamics between all of them felt decidedly odd for such a trip, and although it is explained why there are some tensions between some characters, all of them seemed to interact in ways that just felt a bit off and made the dialogue and relationships feel forced. I appreciated some of the twists involving the characters that Sten included (which I can't mention of course due to spoilers!), but they weren't quite as impactful as they could have been had there been better development or had captured my interest. And in spite of the lack of individual development, I actually do think there was one relationship between Alice and an old friend that I felt evolved in a really interesting and well-written fashion.
As far as my disappointment with the story arc, it was really a case of my expectations being higher than what was presented. There was so much build-up throughout the first half of the novel that I expected some truly chilling things to happen--and don't get me wrong, there are some rather surprising and shocking occurrences--but instead everything seemed to mostly fizzle out at times when I expected there to be more. I hesitate to say that this was a particularly bad thing because I don't think this was a bad book or story by any means, but I just felt a low level of disappointment while reading and finishing this book. The big discover at the end was both fascinating and underwhelming at the same time, if that makes any sense, and I'm really just not sure how I feel about everything. I walk away from this book feeling a mixture of satisfaction and unfulfilled, so take from that what you will. I really think that this is a book that is going to be hit or miss for people, and if you are at all interested in the premise then I think you should definitely check it out. Just don't expect anything too 'scary' or intense.
Overall, I've given The Lost Village three stars. Despite my issues, it was still one of those books that I kept looking forward to reading and turning the pages quickly. It's well-written and compelling, though not quite as exciting or well-developed as I might have hoped.
*I received a copy of The Lost Village courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*