The Lost Village by Camilla Sten – Review

Published: March 23, 2021

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Series: Standalone

Genre: Horror

Pages: 352 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

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?


Every so often a creepy-sounding book will catch my eye and I’ve just got to read it. I’m a total wuss and I don’t do scary movies or video games, but the lack of actual visuals in a book means it’s way less scary. I like Scandinavian crime/mystery books so I figured I’d go in for a little Scandi-horror and try it out. It was pretty creepy and the characters were interesting for sure! 

Alice Lindstedt has been obsessed with the so-called Lost Village ever since her grandmother told her of it. Her grandmother grew up there and still had her parents and younger sister there when the residents suddenly disappeared. They simply vanished, aside from a woman who was stoned to death in the town square and a squalling baby discovered by the police. The baby’s origins were just as much a mystery as the whereabouts of the town’s residents. 

Alice and her group of filmmakers set off to the village, many miles from the nearest town or even gas station. They arrive and begin to explore, though it feels as if they aren’t alone in the ghost town – they hear noises, the walkie-talkies malfunction, and they think they’ve seen someone. Shortly after arriving, Tone (Alice’s friend and photographer) severely injures her ankle and is laid up on pain meds. This is the first in a series of bad decisions and occurrences, all of which help to give this story the sense of creeping dread it possesses. 

One of the big things that should be mentioned is that this story has dual timelines. Obviously there’s the current day timeline following Alice and her crew, but there’s also a flashback timeline that follows Alice’s grandmother’s family in the town and shows the events leading up to the disappearance. This gives the reader a fantastic insider perspective as to what life was like in this small mining town prior to it’s infamy. The mine is shutting down, tensions are high, and a new church pastor has come to town… You can see where the comparisons to Midsommar might begin to come into play. 

The Lost Village was not entirely unpredictable and some aspects I guessed quite early on. With that being said, it was fun (and still creepy!) to see how everything would unfold in both past and present. The ending of the book was quite tense, but I wasn’t really all that surprised or worried for the characters – not bad, but not mind blowing. I was disappointed that there wasn’t actually that much documentary making going on since Tone got hurt so early on and then they mostly just lurked around the buildings taking pictures. This also wasn’t terrifying, just quite unsettling for most of the book. Overall, I liked it and will more than likely pick up future books from this author if the synopsis sounds good.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme originally hosted on Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. This is a great way to share upcoming released you’re excited about!

 

I am 110% enchanted by both the cover and synopsis for The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels! A proper Victorian lady-thief has to team up with a lovestruck assassin to save her family. The early reviews are glowing with praise and it sounds like it would be perfect for fans of Gail Carriger. This will be released in June 2021 -not too long to wait!

Currently Reading: 2/22/21

The Bone Maker by Sarah Beth Durst
I have been so excited to finally read this, but initially put it off because it was sooo far until the release date! And now that date is quickly sneaking up on me! A hero is planning to use forbidden magic to raise her husband (who fell fighting a corrupt magician) from the dead. It sounds fabulously dark and emotional!

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
I picked this up in an Audible sale a couple weeks ago and decided now was the time to check it out. Before I pick up another murder mystery book anyway. A group of unlikely young cadets are thrown together and may end up preventing a catastrophic intergalactic war. I love the large cast of voice actors and tend to find the snarky attitudes fun.

The Frozen Crown by Greta Kelly

Published: January 12, 2021

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Series: Warrior Witch #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 384 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

Synopsis:

A princess with a powerful and dangerous secret must find a way to save her country from ruthless invaders in this exciting debut fantasy, the first novel in a thrilling duology packed with heroism, treachery, magic, and war.

Askia became heir to the Frozen Crown of Seravesh because of her devotion to her people. But her realm is facing a threat she cannot defeat by sheer will alone. The mad emperor of the Roven Empire has unleashed a horde of invading soldiers to enslave her lands. For months, her warriors have waged a valiant, stealth battle, yet they cannot stop the enemy’s advancement. Running out of time, she sets sail for sun-drenched Vishir, the neighboring land to the south, to seek help from its ruler, Emperor Armaan.

A young woman raised in army camps, Askia is ill-equipped to navigate Vishir’s labyrinthine political games. Her every move sinks her deeper into court intrigues which bewilder and repel her, leaving her vulnerable not only to enemies gathering at Vishir’s gates, but to those behind the palace walls. 

And in this glittering court, where secrets are worth more than gold, Askia fears that one false step will expose her true nature. For Askia is a witch gifted with magical abilities—knowledge that could destroy not only her life but her people. As her adversaries draw closer, Askia is forced to make an impossible choice—and no matter what she decides, it may not be enough to prevent Seravesh’s fall.


This was one of my most anticipated releases of early 2021 and I’m SOOO HAPPY it lived up to my expectations! At first it came off as a little young adult and I wasn’t so sure about it, but the book quickly found its stride and I fell in love. The Frozen Crown is an awesome political-centric fantasy and has seriously whetted my appetite for more books focused on statecraft and the nuanced maneuverings of those involved.

Princess Askia is heir to a crown she does not possess. Her kingdom has been taken by a treacherous cousin on behalf of the sorcerer king of Roven and she is on the run with her fiercely loyal armsmen. Her quest to retake her kingdom leads her across the sea to the Empire of Vishir, where she spent many years of her childhood… until her parents were murdered by religious zealots and she was tortured on the suspicion of being a witch. By returning to Vishir she must face not only the most powerful man in the world and beg for help, but also the people who were responsible for the most traumatic events in her life. The political game is on and Askia is floundering, sinking, but she must save her people at all costs.

This book was absolutely brilliant. I was on the edge of my seat and was finding any excuse or task to keep listening to it. Let’s just say my house was pretty clean that week! This has to be one of the first books I’ve come across where the main character was practical enough to push her heart aside and actually consider marriage to someone for an alliance. What a relief – a character can’t say they would do anything to save their people and then not actually take advantage of a marriage alliance! Oh, and I can’t forget that she actually beheaded her friend who tried to assassinate her. It was terrible, but he tried to kill her for Roven to save his own kin. Askia was awesome – a skilled warrior, an elegant figure, and a death witch. Yes, a death witch, meaning she can see and speak to the dead. Or at least that’s all she knew how to do at the beginning of the book. 

The Frozen Crown may end up being one of my favorite books of the year even though it’s only February. Only time shall tell, but my level of excitement for the next book is like wayyyy up there. The political aspect of this book was well done – Askia was obviously out of her depth, but she learns and begins to play the game. She deals with her enemies for the sake of saving her people, tamping down her own feelings for the sake of those she loves. The ending was quite the cliffhanger, so I’m really going to need the next book ASAP!

Waiting on Wednesday: The Pariah by Anthony Ryan

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme originally hosted on Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. This is a great way to share upcoming released you’re excited about!

OMG. A new Anthony Ryan series! And it’s set in a new world, unrelated to either the Raven’s Shadow or Draconis Memoria series. The story follows an outlaw turned soldier during what may be the events leading up to a demonic apocalypse (if his commanders visions hold true). This is EXCITING and I cannot wait for dark (but hopefully not bleak), and morally grey characters, that may or may not spend half the book coated in the blood of others. Also, can I just point out how amazingly simplistic, yet moody that cover is? I love it and will need to acquire a physical copy when its released in August 2021!

Siege of Rage and Ruin by Django Wexler – Review

Published: January 5, 2021

Publisher: Tor Teen

Series: The Wells of Sorcery #3

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Pages: 304 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

Siege of Rage and Ruin is the explosive final adventure in Django Wexler’s The Wells of Sorcery trilogy, an action-packed epic fantasy saga.

Isoka has done the impossible–she’s captured the ghost ship Soliton.

With her crew of mages, including the love of her life Princess Meroe, Isoka returns to the empire that sent her on her deadly mission. She’s ready to hand over the ghost ship as ransom for her sister Tori’s life, but arrives to find her home city under siege. And Tori at the helm of a rebellion.

Neither Isoka’s mastery of combat magic, nor Tori’s proficiency with mind control, could have prepared them for the feelings their reunion surfaces. But they’re soon drawn back into the rebels’ fight to free the city that almost killed them.


CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR PREVIOUS BOOKS

I realized as I began to write up this review that I don’t have too much to say about this book that hasn’t been said in my reviews of the previous installments. We shall instead jump right to the point.

At long last, the Soliton returns to Isoka’s home city, and at her command no less. She’s determined to save her innocent little sister, but Isoka is clearly not up to date on current events. Tori helped to start a rebellion and is now leading it – clearly she’s not the delicate flower that Isoka imagined her to be and this initially creates a bit of tension between the sisters. How dare Isoka come in and treat Tori as a child? Tori is a formidable power in her own right, and though Isoka is still important she’s become somewhat less so now that the rebellion is the biggest threat to the city. Acquiring Soliton just isn’t as important when there are hordes of people wanting to burn down a city and pull the nobility down with them.

Isoka and Tori spend a decent chunk (maybe a quarter?) of the story trying to reunite with one another. Now, this isn’t exactly a long book and there’s a lot of action crammed in those 300 pages. I feel that there should have been a little more content and a slower build up to the grand finale, as this did wrap up very, very quickly and neatly. An epilogue teasing the continued journey of our characters would have been quite welcome too! These are probably my only quibbles about the story.

I thought this to be an enjoyable series overall and Siege of Rage and Ruin was a pretty good way to wrap up such an adventurous quest. I do think the split to two POVs (Tori and Isoka) was a good move, but more time needed to be dedicated to each in this installment to slow down the rapid pace of the story. Sometimes there can be too much too quickly and it makes big events seem run of the mill rather than as emotionally impactful as they might be. I enjoyed the romantic aspects of the story and thought both were well done, though Tori’s isn’t quite as serious or in depth as Isoka’s.

Currently Reading: 2/15/21

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas
YESSSS! I am so excited to read this and see if it works well or goes down in flaming failure! I’m quite excited to return to this world and I really hope there’s not some trite baddie that threatens the whole world once again -so over it. I want a character study and delightful court politics, plus you know, that wonderful SJMaas romance crap.

I’d also like to give a shout-out to Valheim, the game that is currently eating away all my reading time. It’s this awesome mix of Skyrim and Ark: Survival Evolved (but without dinosaurs). Currently it’s in early access, so the devs are updating things frequently, though I haven’t run into any buggy stuff. I’ve been running around with some friends living my Viking dream, sailing ships, killing draugr, and building a cool house with a moat. 

The Black Coast by Mike Brooks – Review

Published: February 16, 2021

Publisher: Solaris

Series: The God-King Chronicles #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 670 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

Epic world-building at its finest, in an upcoming author’s fantasy debut. The Black Coast is the start of an unmissable series filled with war-dragons, armoured knights, sea-faring raiders, dangerous magic and crowd-pleasing battle scenes.

When the citizens of Black Keep see ships on the horizon, terror takes them, for they know who is coming: for generations, Black Keep has been raided by the fearsome clanspeople of Iwernia. Saddling their war dragons, the Naridans rush to defend their home only to discover that the clanspeople have not come to pillage at all. Driven from their own homeland by the rise of a daemonic despot who prophesies the end of the world, they have come in search of a new home. Meanwhile the wider continent of Narida is lurching toward war. Black Keep is about to be caught in the cross-fire of the coming war for the world – if only its new mismatched society can survive.


VIKINGS BABY! Well, sort of. The Black Coast is largely focused on the Black Coast area, which is often attacked by raiders that cross the sea (a viking-esque people). Recently however, they’ve undergone some nasty political upheaval (a creepy draugr overlord) and one of the clans has decided to find themselves a new home. The clan leader Saana decided to risk parlaying with the Naridans in hopes they will allow her people to settle and begin a new life. The Naridans of the Black Keep are horrified to see a massive host of Iwernian ships sailing toward their shores. And then a white flag is raised.

On the flip side, there’s lots of interesting stuff going on elsewhere in the world. Tila, the sister to the God King is set on assassinating a splinter group of their family line that lives across the sea. This splinter group lives in secrecy and no one knows what they look like or what alias they are living under. The main POV in this area is a pickpocket named Jeya who ends up befriending the son of the splinter king. There are sooo many POVs within this story that I won’t attempt to touch on all of them because we’d be here all day. The Naridans at the Black Keep, Saana’s clan, the agent of the Golden (the draugr overlord), Tila, and Jeya all have their chapters. It really does help to flesh out the world quickly and pretty thoroughly as you read along. It also lends an epic scope to the story that would have been difficult if focusing solely on any one of the characters.

This is an action packed, fascinating world that I think has something for everyone. Political intrigue, assassination attempts, dragons, a criminal underworld, and even some sexual tension. I won’t call it romance, as it’s uh… a bit of a weird love triangle that might be kind of one sided(won’t spoil that one further). There is SO MUCH going on in this book but it’s deftly executed and trust me, not all of the characters are likable and especially not good. On many occasions, they choose what they think is the lesser of two evils and those choices don’t make everyone happy. 

Simply said, I loved this book. It was the perfect mix of action and political intrigue with cool countries and cultures that I can’t wait to see in further detail.

Waiting on Wednesday: Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme originally hosted on Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. This is a great way to share upcoming released you’re excited about!

A new Tchaikovsky space adventure! Shards of Earth focuses on a now obsolete crew of superhumans that were used to fight aliens called the Architects. With the war now won, this crew of enhanced humans have not purpose… until they find evidence that perhaps the Architects aren’t gone after all. This sounds SO COOL! Shards of Earth will be released in August 2021.

Currently Reading: 2/8/21

The Councillor by E.J. Beaton
I’ve been sOoooo excited to start reading this one! This is looking like it could be one of the best political fantasy books I’ve read and I love the premise. A well beloved queen is murdered and she appoints the palace scholar to be the Councillor who will choose the next monarch, throwing the whole hierarchy into chaos. I have a good feeling about this – maybe my next 5 star read?

Gardens of the Moons by Steven Erikson
I wasn’t planning to re-read this, but I started it before I got my Audible credits for the month and here I am 8 hours into the audiobook. I had started In the Garden of Spite, but honestly I don’t think it’s the right book for my mood right now and haven’t been able to get very far. I probably won’t review this since I’ve reviewed it here before.