‘The Lost Village’ – Camilla Sten

Finishing this with the wind whistling in the woods outside my home, I confess to feeling more than a little jittery at the thought of this story.

The Lost Village focuses on a mystery that has puzzled people for years…a village where all 900 inhabitants mysteriously disappeared, leaving no trace of their presence. The only person found when someone later entered the village was a young baby. A grisly scene met the people who rescued the baby – the body of a woman who had been stoned to death in the village square. Of course, people want to know what happened.

In the present day we have filmmaker Alice whose grandmother used to live in the village. She received letters from her family when she first moved, but had no idea what happened to them. She shared stories about village life with Alice, so this is very much a personal journey.

This personal involvement leads to what can best be described as a blinkered passion. Alice has spent years dreaming of making a film about the village and documenting what happened. She manages to track down the daughter of the baby found in the village (this isn’t a spoiler, though this fact isn’t shared with all the cast who journey to the village to shoot material to secure backing for their film).

From the moment they arrive in the village, Alice and her crew sense something eerie about the place. Of course, their unease starts to grow and we’re never quite sure whether the mysterious noises and sightings are products of unsettled minds or something more threatening.

As the story progresses the growing unease is well-captured. When it becomes clear they are trapped in the village it doesn’t bode well. This claustrophobic sensation is increased as Sten cuts into our present story with the narrative of incidents in the village leading up to the disappearance. The threat is real…and once this is clearly established it became (for me) scarier but also enabled me to develop some empathy for the characters who I wasn’t unduly concerned about initially.

Thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for giving me access to this prior to publication.