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.

Currently Reading: 1/25/21

The Lost Village by Camilla Sten
Feeling like a creepy read this week. The Lost Village is described as a mix of The Blair Witch Project and Midsommar, following a documentary filmmaker looking into the tainted history of an old mining town. I’ve been pretty excited about starting this one and decided I’d get some ARC reading done actually in advance of the release date!

Devolution by Max Brooks – Review

Published: June 16, 2020

Publisher: Del Rey Books

Series: Standalone

Genre: Horror, Fiction

Pages: 286 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

Synopsis:

The #1 bestselling author of World War Z takes on the Bigfoot legend with a tale that blurs the lines between human and beast–and asks what we are capable of in the face of the unimaginable.

As the ash and chaos from Mount Rainier’s eruption swirled and finally settled, the story of the Greenloop massacre has passed unnoticed, unexamined . . . until now.

But the journals of resident Kate Holland, recovered from the town’s bloody wreckage, capture a tale too harrowing–and too earth-shattering in its implications–to be forgotten.

In these pages, Max Brooks brings Kate’s extraordinary account to light for the first time, faithfully reproducing her words alongside his own extensive investigations into the massacre and the legendary beasts behind it.

Kate’s is a tale of unexpected strength and resilience, of humanity’s defiance in the face of a terrible predator’s gaze, and inevitably, of savagery and death.

Yet it is also far more than that.

Because if what Kate Holland saw in those days is real, then we must accept the impossible. We must accept that the creature known as Bigfoot walks among us–and that it is a beast of terrible strength and ferocity.

Part survival narrative, part bloody horror tale, part scientific journey into the boundaries between truth and fiction, this is a Bigfoot story as only Max Brooks could chronicle it–and like none you’ve ever read before.


I had been interested in this book since I found out it existed and was lucky enough to win a copy in a giveaway very early on in 2020. It then took 6 months to arrive thanks to COVID restrictions slowing things down, but nonetheless – it arrived! 

This is a really interesting story told via journal entries and interviews with people who knew the main characters. The journal belongs to Kate Holland, who, along with her husband moved to a small eco-settlement near Mt. Rainier called Greenloop. Unfortunately Mt. Rainier erupted soon after their arrival, causing the folks in this community to be cut off from civilization. Kate details their daily life as they try to adapt to potentially months without outside aid, search for a route back to a main road, and confrontations with the beasts that fled the eruption. Not everything is standard fauna – a troupe of sasquatch are fleeing the dangers as well and see the stranded folks as a tasty meal. 

Kate’s narration makes for an interesting adventure and it’s delightful to see how she, her husband, and the rest of the settlement dwellers handle the situation. Some become stronger, better people and others turn into husks of their former, civilized selves. Kate is wonderful, though I can’t tell you about my favorite scenes without spoiling the latter parts of the story. Possibly the most fascinating character is Mostar, an older woman famed for her glass sculptures. Mostar’s life was full of hardship and danger in her younger years, having grown up in a country ravaged by war (I’ll be honest, I can’t remember which country it was). She has suffered hardship, potential starvation, countless other dangers and this makes her a resourceful member of Greenloop. Without her, everyone would have died quite quickly.

Devolution was a fascinating and sometimes unsettling read. I devoured it, though found that certain parts were far too creepy to read in the dark of night right before bed. I could see this making a terrifying movie!

Horrid by Katrina Leno – Review

Published: September 15, 2020

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Series: Standalone

Genre: Horror

Pages: 336 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.0/5.0

Synopsis:

From the author of You Must Not Miss comes a haunting contemporary horror novel that explores themes of mental illness, rage, and grief, twisted with spine-chilling elements of Stephen King and Agatha Christie.

Following her father’s death, Jane North-Robinson and her mom move from sunny California to the dreary, dilapidated old house in Maine where her mother grew up. All they want is a fresh start, but behind North Manor’s doors lurks a history that leaves them feeling more alone…and more tormented.

As the cold New England autumn arrives, and Jane settles in to her new home, she finds solace in old books and memories of her dad. She steadily begins making new friends, but also faces bullying from the resident “bad seed,” struggling to tamp down her own worst nature in response. Jane’s mom also seems to be spiraling with the return of her childhood home, but she won’t reveal why. Then Jane discovers that the “storage room” her mom has kept locked isn’t for storage at all–it’s a little girl’s bedroom, left untouched for years and not quite as empty of inhabitants as it appears….

Is it grief? Mental illness? Or something more…horrid?


This was one of the more intriguing books that I’ve received in my OwlCrate boxes this year and I was feeling like a goody creepy read. Horrid is a fairly basic suspenseful and creepy story. The main character Jane and her mother have just moved to Maine after her father suddenly passed away. They were left massively in debt and had to sell their home in California and move to the somewhat dilapidated mansion Jane’s mother inherited. 

Jane is understandably quite upset at all the sudden and unwelcome changes in her life and is struggling through each day. Fortunately she’s found some nice girls at her new school to hang out with and a job at the local book store. She still has to go home to that darn creepy house where things don’t seem quite right and sometimes it seems like someone else there. The townsfolk know something happened at the house many years ago, but no one will fill Jane in on the details – not even her mother. Even so, Jane can’t quite tell if it’s her grief that’s making her a bit mad or if the house is really haunted. 

The plot is, well, about what I summed up above. There’s not much to this book aside from what I’ve already mentioned and it did make for an entertaining read though it wasn’t particularly memorable. I didn’t quite expect the book to turn out the way it did and the surprise had the appropriate amount of flair.  I would probably pick up more books by this author if the synopsis was catchy because this wasn’t a bad book at all, just not one that stands out from the crowd.

Stacking the Shelves: 8/8/20

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly (or in my case monthly) meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and it’s all about sharing the books you’ve added to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. You can include books you buy in a physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts, and of course ebooks!


Received for Review: 

20200807_213325

The Trouble With Peace by Joe Abercrombie
First of all, THANK YOU ORBIT!! This is the first physical publisher bookmail I’ve gotten in MONTHS and I was so excited! It’s also Joe Abercrombie, so you know, that’s pretty cool too.

The Seventh Perfection by Daniel Polansky
This was an irresistible request – fantasy mystery with such a lovely cover. It’s also the perfect test to see if I might enjoy Polansky’s writing… so maybe a jumping off point to a whole new favorite author! Thanks to Tor.com.

The Shadows by Alex North
This was the perfect way to test out NetGalley’s new audiobook feature and app, both of which I like. I’ve already finished this up and a review will be coming along soon.

How the Multiverse Got Its Revenge by K. Eason
This, as I mentioned in my Waiting on Wednesday, might be one of the most exciting sequels of the year. I LOVED the first book and can’t wait to see where this oddball group of characters adventures next. Many thanks to DAW for the eARC.

My Purchases:

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I’ve been on a vampire kick lately and decided to pick up Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer and The Damned by Renee Ahdieh. I also went ahead and snagged hardcover copies of Skyward and Starsight by Brandon Sanderson while they’re available.

Cover- Demon in White

I also added the Demon in White audiobook to my collection so that I actually have time to read/listen to this book. Honestly, I love the narration and the story is brilliant thus far. Highly underrated series.

The Loop by Jeremy Robert Johnson – Review

Cover- The Loop

Published: September 29, 2020

Publisher: Gallery/Saga Press

Series: Standalone

Genre: Horror

Pages: 320 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:

Stranger Things meets World War Z in this heart-racing conspiracy thriller as a lonely young woman teams up with a group of fellow outcasts to survive the night in a town overcome by a science experiment gone wrong.

Turner Falls is a small tourist town nestled in the hills of western Oregon, the kind of town you escape to for a vacation. When an inexplicable outbreak rapidly develops, this idyllic town becomes the epicenter of an epidemic of violence as the teenaged children of several executives from the local biotech firm become ill and aggressively murderous. Suddenly the town is on edge, and Lucy and her friends must do everything it takes just to fight through the night.


UMMM. This was absolutely WILD. I expected something out of the ordinary and on the periphery of my preferred genres but this was a punch to the senses! 

It begins with Lucy and her pal Bucket, who have banded together as sort of outcast minorities in their dinky Oregon town. Life in a small town sucks, yada-yada, and then one of their classmates gets his eye gouged out by another kid in the middle of class and their teacher ends up in a rather bad way when he tries to intervene. Is it bad meth or something else? 

Spoiler: it’s definitely something else. There’s a new company in town called IMTECH and they’ve done something to a bunch of  kids that makes them turn into murderous hive-mind monsters. It was pretty awesome and then it just kept getting weirder and I got less invested. It got to the point where I found it to be absurd and just kept reading because it made me laugh in a disturbed sort of way.

The characters were actually pretty great. Lucy and Bucket were wonderful and there was another semi-main character called Brewer who was actually pretty great and played a bit of a love interest role. The dialogue between them was great and there were surprisingly heartfelt moments amidst the horror.

Overall, this was an interesting read that certainly grabbed me and didn’t let go. I read it in just a couple sittings because I just had to know what happened next! Like I said, it was almost an absurdist horror that gave me so many WTF this is stupid/laughable moments but I still just kept reading!

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix – Review

Cover- The Southern Book Club

Published: April 7, 2020

Publisher: Quirk Books

Series: Standalone

Genre: Horror

Pages: 404 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Synopsis:

Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias meet Dracula in this Southern-flavored supernatural thriller set in the ’90s about a women’s book club that must protect its suburban community from a mysterious and handsome stranger who turns out to be a blood-sucking fiend.

Patricia Campbell had always planned for a big life, but after giving up her career as a nurse to marry an ambitious doctor and become a mother, Patricia’s life has never felt smaller. The days are long, her kids are ungrateful, her husband is distant, and her to-do list is never really done. The one thing she has to look forward to is her book club, a group of Charleston mothers united only by their love for true-crime and suspenseful fiction. In these meetings, they’re more likely to discuss the FBI’s recent siege of Waco as much as the ups and downs of marriage and motherhood.

But when an artistic and sensitive stranger moves into the neighborhood, the book club’s meetings turn into speculation about the newcomer. Patricia is initially attracted to him, but when some local children go missing, she starts to suspect the newcomer is involved. She begins her own investigation, assuming that he’s a Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. What she uncovers is far more terrifying, and soon she–and her book club–are the only people standing between the monster they’ve invited into their homes and their unsuspecting community.


I spent a couple months eagerly awaiting the release date of The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. It had such an exciting premise and I couldn’t wait to see a group of southern housewives go full on Buffy and slay a vampire menacing their neighborhood. That’s… sort of what I got. It certainly didn’t play out how I had expected, which isn’t entirely a bad thing. I like when books can surprise me and occasionally turn my expectations upside down in a good way. 

As you might have inferred from the synopsis (go you, you can hypothesize!) the main character of this book is Patricia Campbell and her group of southern housewife friends in the Mount Pleasant area of South Carolina. They have a monthly book club where they read true crime and talk about murder because let’s face it, sometimes you need to talk to someone your own age about something a little more engaging than what the kids are doing. Then the mysterious James Harris moves in down the street from Patricia and at first he seems charming, if a little strange. Then things start happening and his unusual characteristics make Patricia suspicious that, at the very least, he’s not who he says he is. Turns out he’s a blood sucking predator and Patricia seems to be the only one who can see that he’s a threat. Everyone else is convinced he’s a charming fellow and he’s invested so much into their businesses and personal lives that surely he can’t be a murderer.

This was a wild story – it went from mundane to horrific and back again that sometimes I nearly got whiplash. There were some horrific moments, which I wasn’t surprised by as this is listed as a horror story, but WOW they triggered some primal revulsion in me. I mean, RATS. EUUGHHH. This is more of a psychological horror than a slasher type book and honestly, the worst offenders were the husbands!! The real horror is how Patricia’s husband basically gaslit her and she just kind of figured that maybe she was crazy! They were all pretty awful and brushed of the concerns of their wives because they were a bunch of silly housewives, notwithstanding the fact that they were all intelligent women. James Harris was certainly a monster, but if they had banded together from the beginning and hadn’t cowed before their idiot husbands this would have been a much shorter book.

Overall, this was a good read if one that was somewhat infuriating. The psychological abuse Patricia received from her own family was so much worse to read about than the vampire terrorizing vulnerable children. It took me awhile to get through the audiobook, just because I kept getting mad and had to put it down for a little while. The narration was done very well and each character has a very unique (and southern) voice. Despite my frustrations with some of the characters, this was an engaging book that kept me guessing the entire time. I was never quite sure how things would turn out and things would de-escalate for just long enough to lull you… and then WHAM, MORE HORROR!

Currently Reading: 4/6/20

Cover- The Southern Book Club

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
AHHHHH it’s finally coming out on Tuesday!! I’m really looking forward to this quirky, awesome sounding horror/fantasy. Initial reviews are looking good, so I have pretty high hopes.

Cover- Race the Sands

Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst
This sounds like a pretty wild story and once again, the early reviews are fantastic! Racing on deadly beasts and battle corruption at the same time! I don’t even know… this has been lingering in my TBR queue for too long and it’s almost the release date.

 

Currently Reading: 3/23/20

Cover - Out of Body

Out of Body by Jeffrey Ford
This will be a nice, short change of pace after the heavy fantasy books I’ve been reading. A little horror, a lot weird. The synopsis is pretty vague and that makes it more exciting.

Cover- The Sin in the Steel

The Sin in the Steel by Ryan Van Loan
I’m definitely jumping the gun on reading this since it won’t be out until July, but honestly who cares. It sounded cool and I was in the mood for swashbuckling pirate queens and private detectives this week.

 

Waiting on Wednesday: The Shadows by Alex North

“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!


Cover- The Shadows

I came across this shortly after I finished up The Whisper Man and it’s equally creepy for sure. The Shadows is another copy-cat murder story with almost supernatural sounding elements. A boy murdered someone and then disappeared without a trace. The main character was the victim’s best friend and he’s been avoiding his hometown ever since, but now he must return. This sounds properly disturbing and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!