30 review for Elken: A Folk Horror Story

  1. 5 out of 5

    Richard Martin

    ‘The Wicker Man’ meets ‘The Ritual’ When I first started really getting into horror literature, after graduating from my gateway of R.L. Stine then Stephen King, I remember zombie fiction being all the rage. My local bookstore was packed with zombie anthologies, series, novels and collections. The trend waned somewhat and since then I’ve noticed upswings at various points for vampires, hauntings and possession and literary and cosmic horror. My prediction for the next big thing in horror fiction? ‘The Wicker Man’ meets ‘The Ritual’ When I first started really getting into horror literature, after graduating from my gateway of R.L. Stine then Stephen King, I remember zombie fiction being all the rage. My local bookstore was packed with zombie anthologies, series, novels and collections. The trend waned somewhat and since then I’ve noticed upswings at various points for vampires, hauntings and possession and literary and cosmic horror. My prediction for the next big thing in horror fiction? Folk Horror. I truly hope this does come to pass because it is one of my absolute favourite sub-genres and Jay Alexander’s new short story, ‘Elken’ is a great example of why. Wilbur is visiting the remote Sorrow Helm in order to begin mapping its vast surrounding forest. He is also looking to escape his increasingly complicated home life and is glad, at first, of the peace and solitude his time alone provides him. When Wilbur begins to find partial remains of animals in the form of bones and antlers it raises questions with no easy answers. As he begins to see things that cannot be explained; ghostly hooded figures and impossible creatures, his plight becomes less about solving the mystery of Sorrow Helm, and more about surviving it. It may be partly where I live (the UK, the birthplace of Folk Horror cinema) but this sub-genre really resonates with me. The themes of isolation and religion lend themselves so well to the slow-burn tension and poetic prose that I enjoy when reading a horror book. All these things, I’m pleased to confirm, are present and accounted for in ‘Elken’. The premise starts out as a familiar one, with its quaint countryside pub out in the middle of nowhere, staffed by mysterious locals of a scenic but remote rural area. When we’re introduced to a cartographer who is visiting for work, you just know the poor guy is in for a world of hurt before he’s even had a chance to finish his first pint. The longer you read, however, the more ‘Elkin’ begins to carve out its own niche. Some surrealism begins to creep in and some quiet character moments are offset with huge scale set-pieces with some startling and memorable imagery which all combine to offer a comfortably familiar set-up with some welcome surprises along the way. Alexander’s prose is very descriptive and evocative, often personifying seemingly mundane things in such a way that gives off a general sense of danger and unease throughout. His descriptions of the forest, in particular, a major part of the book, are very distinctive and give a very clear, sometimes nightmarish picture in the reader’s mind. What I think really stood out for me, however, was how relatable the lead character was. Alexander provides his lead character with a fairly significant status quo change at the midway point of the story which goes a long way to explaining a lot of his subsequent actions. This attention to character development in such a short work (42 pages) is great to see and pays off in a big way. 'Elken' packs a big punch into its small frame and presents a unique and disquieting vision with a gruesome and unforgettable finale. With this short being one of seven stories that are due to feature in the authors upcoming folk horror collection, ‘Starving Grounds’, ‘Elken’ is a great opportunity to sample the work of a promising new voice in the genre.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jack Harding

    Vivid, visceral and pretty damn disturbing, Alexander’s slick and expertly structured horror short showcases everything I’ve come to admire about his work: evocative prose, a pitch-perfect beat, beautiful descriptions of sometimes mundane, sometimes insane things that make you think, feel, leaving very little to the imagination, and he casts it all against a brooding plot that unravels one horrifying layer at a time. In Elken, Alexander channels his inner James Herbert to produce a sharp, cerebr Vivid, visceral and pretty damn disturbing, Alexander’s slick and expertly structured horror short showcases everything I’ve come to admire about his work: evocative prose, a pitch-perfect beat, beautiful descriptions of sometimes mundane, sometimes insane things that make you think, feel, leaving very little to the imagination, and he casts it all against a brooding plot that unravels one horrifying layer at a time. In Elken, Alexander channels his inner James Herbert to produce a sharp, cerebral and throughly unnerving yarn that makes for a quick and excellent read. Perhaps the finest writing I’ve read of his so far. I’m looking forward to the full collection!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Michael Goodwin

    There's something in the woods, and it's hungry. A blistering and gruesome folk horror story about an ancient evil that lives deep in the woods, ELKEN is paced well and keeps you on edge from the first page. You know something bad is going to happen, as you can feel it just around the corner. The story ramps up to an ending that is absolutely heart pounding. I've read a few stories by Alexander before, but this is hands down the best that I've read from him. Scary as hell, and as bloody as I've co There's something in the woods, and it's hungry. A blistering and gruesome folk horror story about an ancient evil that lives deep in the woods, ELKEN is paced well and keeps you on edge from the first page. You know something bad is going to happen, as you can feel it just around the corner. The story ramps up to an ending that is absolutely heart pounding. I've read a few stories by Alexander before, but this is hands down the best that I've read from him. Scary as hell, and as bloody as I've come to expect from him.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    A lonesome cartographer, seeking distraction in his work, charts a path into darkness and pagan horror in this short story which acts as a preview of Jay Alexander's upcoming folk horror anthology, Starving Grounds. Jay's use of language is commanding, conjuring up the spirits of classic British horror authors like Herbert and James, painting a window into another time, enchanting in an old English gothic kind of way, but with a modern sensibility and heart. If Elken is anything to go by, Jay Al A lonesome cartographer, seeking distraction in his work, charts a path into darkness and pagan horror in this short story which acts as a preview of Jay Alexander's upcoming folk horror anthology, Starving Grounds. Jay's use of language is commanding, conjuring up the spirits of classic British horror authors like Herbert and James, painting a window into another time, enchanting in an old English gothic kind of way, but with a modern sensibility and heart. If Elken is anything to go by, Jay Alexander's journey to the Starving Grounds will be a Fortean expedition worth undertaking at haste. Oh, and if you can't tell, I'm trying to sound half as clever as Jay does, and I'm failing miserably. Anyway, good story, me like cheers for ARC Jay and me buy Starving Grounds, ok?

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Brocklehurst

    This one's going to be a short review, because it's so hard to review short stories without spoiling anything. Elken is a folk horror story and it. Is. Good. Jay has hit his stride with folk horror. Elken is a beautifully-written story that is rich in imagery and horrifying moments. I enjoyed every word of it. Thank you Jay for the advanced reader copy! This one's going to be a short review, because it's so hard to review short stories without spoiling anything. Elken is a folk horror story and it. Is. Good. Jay has hit his stride with folk horror. Elken is a beautifully-written story that is rich in imagery and horrifying moments. I enjoyed every word of it. Thank you Jay for the advanced reader copy!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Miguel Goncalves

    Jay Alexander hits a home run with this short story. From the first few lines you're invaded with a sense of dread that will accompany you throughout the story. It starts slow, with just some hints that something bad is going to happen. Enough to make you uncomfortable and want to know more. Jay Alexander gives us an amazing setting – a dark, mysterious and unmapped forest. He writes in a way that makes you want to discover what it hides under its thick canopy and behind its towering trees. He also Jay Alexander hits a home run with this short story. From the first few lines you're invaded with a sense of dread that will accompany you throughout the story. It starts slow, with just some hints that something bad is going to happen. Enough to make you uncomfortable and want to know more. Jay Alexander gives us an amazing setting – a dark, mysterious and unmapped forest. He writes in a way that makes you want to discover what it hides under its thick canopy and behind its towering trees. He also show us glimpses that there’s someone, or something, in the woods. Is it a man or a monster? What intentions do they have towards Wilbur Roman, the cartographer in charge of mapping the forest? The second part of the book is where adrenaline starts pumping and your heart will start beating faster. As secrets unfold, what the forest holds starts being discovered and you won’t be able to put this story down until you read the last word. Jay’s writing style is pure and unapologetic in its violence and rawness. A style so vivid in its descriptions and so careful that you’ll hear the leaves and the snow under your feet and you’ll smell the forest and the blood as if you were standing there. This is probably not a story for the faint of heart but it’s definitely a story that will be very rewarding if you have what it takes to cross the edge of the trees.

  7. 5 out of 5

    looneybooks79

    This was a fun little story, Dark, vicious, vile, intense, twisted, disturbing but most of all pretty damn good! I know that Jay Alexander has published collections of indie horror stories (blood rites horror) but I don't think I have read anything written by him, before this story! Folk horror is always pretty damn dark and Jay succeeded in scaring his readers, just by setting a mood and by placing the chess pieces on the board at just the right time and then striking us with a finale that leave This was a fun little story, Dark, vicious, vile, intense, twisted, disturbing but most of all pretty damn good! I know that Jay Alexander has published collections of indie horror stories (blood rites horror) but I don't think I have read anything written by him, before this story! Folk horror is always pretty damn dark and Jay succeeded in scaring his readers, just by setting a mood and by placing the chess pieces on the board at just the right time and then striking us with a finale that leaves us flabbergasted, openmouthed and wishing for more! I am definitely looking forward to his collection, released in June, where this story will be part of: Starving Grounds, Tales of Folk Horror! Something to look forward to! If you're a fan of Midsommar, The Ritual or Hereditary... this is your kind of story!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    (Note: I only comment, I no longer do star ratings - on goodreads at least!) Elken is chillingly enjoyable folk horror short. The atmosphere of the old pub, the unwelcoming forest - and especially once the snow had fallen - its air of menace, was perfect. The thread of bones, as both discovery and part of the hidden world in which Wilbur Roman loses himself build a terrifying picture as they merge to portray the world of an old god. Great short read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Eli

    Foreboding, sullen, completely and descriptively disgusting. Alexander flexes his muscles once again, proving his professional approach to the Horror genre. Folk Horror is easily becoming a staple in my book diet. Jay Alexander has found his groove with the sub-genre, and brought a nostalgic feel along with totally new aspects that I cannot get enough of. Read this story, and every single thing that Alexander releases. I know I will.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mona Kabbani

    Jay Alexander’s new folk short, Elken, is an excellent read for those who want a quick mythos scare. The characters are well shaped, the scenery is eerie, and the monsters are… well, grotesque. Like, VERY grotesque and creepy. One of those, what’s in this dark forest with me vibes. Per Alexander’s recent announcements, I’m excited to see that he will be diving into more folk horror. I’m even more interested in seeing if he will extend this story in particular… perhaps an origin of sorts? 👀 🦌

  11. 4 out of 5

    H. Everend

    Wanna get a good scare from something deep in the woods? This story is the one for you. To sum it up, a cartographer is working on a project deep in the woods and finds a bunch of antlers that aren't what they seem... Tie that in with creepy creatures stalking in the woods and an awfully suspicious hotel staff...and you're in for a delectable, scary short. Jay has amazing attention to detail and knows how to reel a reader in with his beautiful descriptions and getting you right into the atmospher Wanna get a good scare from something deep in the woods? This story is the one for you. To sum it up, a cartographer is working on a project deep in the woods and finds a bunch of antlers that aren't what they seem... Tie that in with creepy creatures stalking in the woods and an awfully suspicious hotel staff...and you're in for a delectable, scary short. Jay has amazing attention to detail and knows how to reel a reader in with his beautiful descriptions and getting you right into the atmosphere. Well done Jay!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mischief Publishing

    He reached the end of the path and saw death Jay Alexander artfully plunges both Dr. Wilbur Roman and the readers into a visceral woodland horror that brings us deep into a menacing forest teeming with atmosphere. The chilling mystery of what stalks the trees, leaving carnage in its wake, beckons the reader as much as it does the cartographer who finds himself hooked and pulled into it's otherwordly tines. Elken's brutal climax is as poetic and tragic as it is grisly. This short horror steadily He reached the end of the path and saw death Jay Alexander artfully plunges both Dr. Wilbur Roman and the readers into a visceral woodland horror that brings us deep into a menacing forest teeming with atmosphere. The chilling mystery of what stalks the trees, leaving carnage in its wake, beckons the reader as much as it does the cartographer who finds himself hooked and pulled into it's otherwordly tines. Elken's brutal climax is as poetic and tragic as it is grisly. This short horror steadily builds up to it's macabre and disturbing conclusion, and keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Samuel (Still Reading Sam) Hallam

    "Dr. Wilbur Roman was half a mile from the Bowls when he found the first discarded antler." . Very mild spoilers/ review for Elken by Jay Alexander aka @jay.writeshorror . Elken, is set in 1971, centres around cartographer Dr Wilbur Rowan who is staying in Sorrow Helm and is meant to be mapping the woods. On his first day he found a number of antlers, which he examines later that night in the local pub. But the following day, Wilbur returns to the woods but what awaits him?... . The opening scene in t "Dr. Wilbur Roman was half a mile from the Bowls when he found the first discarded antler." . Very mild spoilers/ review for Elken by Jay Alexander aka @jay.writeshorror . Elken, is set in 1971, centres around cartographer Dr Wilbur Rowan who is staying in Sorrow Helm and is meant to be mapping the woods. On his first day he found a number of antlers, which he examines later that night in the local pub. But the following day, Wilbur returns to the woods but what awaits him?... . The opening scene in the pub is very well written and you do find yourself in the pub with Wilbur. Really hooks and you gets you hooked easily. The vivid description of the woods is also very well done. Once again, you can really picture yourself with Wilbur. There is something down right nasty about the deer in the woods and when we find the first dead deer, you can really picture it. The mystery as to what is lurking in the woods is one that keeps you hooked. I was so curious as to what could possibly be leaving the bones and antlers that Dr Roman keeps discovering. You really get lost in this world and dive deeper and deeper into it, especially with the introduction of the mysterious figures who emerge. Dr WIlbur does make for a good lead I feel. Nice amount of back story to him dotted throughout the story. The final chapter/part brings everything together very nicely in a dark, twisted, evil way. I can't say more due to spoilers. Buy trust me. It's definitely one you'll want to check out! . If "Starving Grounds" is anything like this, then we are in for a treat! Overall 5/5🦌 (that's as close as I can get emoji wise). It comes out on January 31st on Kindle! (If that's wrong do say please) But it's one I strongly recommend checking "Elken" out!

  14. 4 out of 5

    J.B.

    Antlers everywhere This was a quick dive into the folk horror subgenre. The story begins with our cartographer Roman in the forest charting for his new job but there is something different about this forest. I love the LGBTQ+ representation in this story, 5 stars 🌟 just for that aspect. As the story continues on the horror starts to unfold. Folk horror is my thing and I really enjoyed this tale. Oh and did I mention antlers?

  15. 5 out of 5

    Russell Gray

    What in the absolute hell? I wasn't ready, but once I started reading, I couldn't stop. Despite how beautifully written the words were, this story was heinous. Despite being only 40 pages long, it was like watching the beating of a dead horse that somehow, at a second glance, wasn't dead. And, before I knew it, I too held a weapon and found myself drenched in blood. Mired in the foul stench. And I enjoyed it. Every page. What in the absolute hell? I wasn't ready, but once I started reading, I couldn't stop. Despite how beautifully written the words were, this story was heinous. Despite being only 40 pages long, it was like watching the beating of a dead horse that somehow, at a second glance, wasn't dead. And, before I knew it, I too held a weapon and found myself drenched in blood. Mired in the foul stench. And I enjoyed it. Every page.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Aiden Merchant

    Jay Alexander (RIP Nick Harper) is making his folk horror debut with "Elken," a short story that is beautifully haunting and heavy with atmosphere. The prose are deep and descriptive, poetic and unsettling. This reads like a Harper story, but why wouldn't it? In fact, it might even be stronger than a Harper story, because there's a confidence and ease to be felt here in the dark world of the Elken, the kind that is reflective of a man at peace with the war inside himself. Jay writes like a lost Jay Alexander (RIP Nick Harper) is making his folk horror debut with "Elken," a short story that is beautifully haunting and heavy with atmosphere. The prose are deep and descriptive, poetic and unsettling. This reads like a Harper story, but why wouldn't it? In fact, it might even be stronger than a Harper story, because there's a confidence and ease to be felt here in the dark world of the Elken, the kind that is reflective of a man at peace with the war inside himself. Jay writes like a lost artist in the world he's creating, despite the foreboding darkness. He becomes one with the beast and writes like a nightcrawler, reporting the horrors as they play out before him. "Elken" features enough blood and gore, monsters, and illusion to warrant rejoice from all fans of horror and fucked up fairy tales. I want more of this god and what it can do, what it can destroy and change. Obviously, I'm excited for the story collection to follow later this year. Bring on the Starving Grounds!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Saffron Roberts

    Mr Alexander is always impressing us with the range of his writing, from the kinds of characters he writes, to the tones he expresses and the subgenres he explores. Elken is a taster of things to come, namely the author’s folk horror anthology Starving Grounds releasing on June 20th. And what a taster it is! Dark prose intwined with gruesome and vivid imagery describes the journey of a heartbroken cartographer through an old forest where older evil lies. Warning for graphic imagery which include Mr Alexander is always impressing us with the range of his writing, from the kinds of characters he writes, to the tones he expresses and the subgenres he explores. Elken is a taster of things to come, namely the author’s folk horror anthology Starving Grounds releasing on June 20th. And what a taster it is! Dark prose intwined with gruesome and vivid imagery describes the journey of a heartbroken cartographer through an old forest where older evil lies. Warning for graphic imagery which includes some animals. This is a story which ramps up the tension and eeriness with each page until we are hit with an utterly disturbing finale. There’s creepiness flooding every corner of this book, and it makes for a highly entertaining read. Don't hesitate to grab a copy! I’m looking forward to June.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Stewart

    🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 to Elkin by Jay Alexander I’ve said it before - Jay Alexander is the new James Herbert. After reading Elkin I have never been more assured that Jay Alexander has done some sort of seance to mine James Herbert into him. This is so frigging good! It begins in a quiet, courtesy way, introducing its protagonist, Roman, whose running from something. This has lead him to traversing a mysterious woodland area, hunting disregarded antler bones. Only Roman makes a discover, the antlers have been sa 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 to Elkin by Jay Alexander I’ve said it before - Jay Alexander is the new James Herbert. After reading Elkin I have never been more assured that Jay Alexander has done some sort of seance to mine James Herbert into him. This is so frigging good! It begins in a quiet, courtesy way, introducing its protagonist, Roman, whose running from something. This has lead him to traversing a mysterious woodland area, hunting disregarded antler bones. Only Roman makes a discover, the antlers have been sawed off. There’s also something in the woods, something wrong and hungry. Jay Alexander goes from a slow burn beginning to all out bloody mayhem. I do believe it’s his bloodiest book, yet, and you can tell that bugger loves relishing in it. And as a reader you will too! This story is part of a larger collection of folk horror and I can happily report that I can down for it!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cobwebs and Bookmarks

    Set in the early 1970s, a cartographer takes on the task of mapping out the Sorrow Helm Forests soon to realize that it's an impossible task and that the forest is inhabited by a horrifying evil. This story is a taste of the new folk horror world STARVING GROUNDS by Jay Alexander coming this June. This little piece of folk horror has me fiending for more. The book starts off slowly building character and once you have a sense of feeling for the protagonist and his situation, the story spirals qu Set in the early 1970s, a cartographer takes on the task of mapping out the Sorrow Helm Forests soon to realize that it's an impossible task and that the forest is inhabited by a horrifying evil. This story is a taste of the new folk horror world STARVING GROUNDS by Jay Alexander coming this June. This little piece of folk horror has me fiending for more. The book starts off slowly building character and once you have a sense of feeling for the protagonist and his situation, the story spirals quickly into a dark and brutal horror story. Absolutely loved it an can’t wait to read more of his work.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Lynn

    There’s nothing scarier than being alone in the woods. Jay Alexander’s Elken explores this dark, primordial fear, through the eyes of a cartographer, trekking through the dangerous wilderness. I don’t want to spoil anything about this story, but one thing that strikes me about Elken is how sharp and evocative the prose is. The atmosphere is so cold and foreboding – it seeps into every sentence, and I absolutely love it. It reads like dark poetry.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Peter Measures

    These woods are cold and easy to get lost in. Jay Alexander makes you feel the chilly clouds of breath, the eyes watching, the fear and panic beating through the body, the heart-hurt. He makes you fear what the woods might be hiding. “Elken” does everything a horror short story should do, in ways that you hope you, or the ones you love, never have to go through.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Spencer Borup

    Fantastic story to read in one sitting. Can't wait for STARVING GROUNDS in June! Fantastic story to read in one sitting. Can't wait for STARVING GROUNDS in June!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Gloom

    🎃Gloom Review🎃 Keep your eyes on Jay Alexander. The man doesn't sleep, which gives him plenty of time to capture all of our nightmares and put them to words on paper. I'm beyond excited at the fact that this short story is merely a taste of something bigger to come. "Elken" is folk horror with a beating heart. It's an emotional roller coaster with an ending that will leave your skin crawling. You'll never look at the forest the same again. "Starving Grounds," which is the folk horror collection th 🎃Gloom Review🎃 Keep your eyes on Jay Alexander. The man doesn't sleep, which gives him plenty of time to capture all of our nightmares and put them to words on paper. I'm beyond excited at the fact that this short story is merely a taste of something bigger to come. "Elken" is folk horror with a beating heart. It's an emotional roller coaster with an ending that will leave your skin crawling. You'll never look at the forest the same again. "Starving Grounds," which is the folk horror collection this short story was birthed from, releases in June and I can't wait to devour it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Jackson

    If you go down to the woods today, you might never come back... Jay Alexander is already a master of the horror genre and this work showcases his uncanny insight into the terrors of the unknown and the monsters behind the veil. Elken is a haunting, disturbing masterpiece choked with atmosphere, tension, and lashings of gruesome description. There are more twists and turns in this story than in the evil, macabre woodland that Alexander plunges poor Wilbur Roman into. The prose is delicious, the pa If you go down to the woods today, you might never come back... Jay Alexander is already a master of the horror genre and this work showcases his uncanny insight into the terrors of the unknown and the monsters behind the veil. Elken is a haunting, disturbing masterpiece choked with atmosphere, tension, and lashings of gruesome description. There are more twists and turns in this story than in the evil, macabre woodland that Alexander plunges poor Wilbur Roman into. The prose is delicious, the pacing is perfect, and the payoff is stunning. This is a legitimately terrifying story and absolutely sick in the finest way possible. I'm now a convert to folk horror.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Garrett

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jacek

  27. 4 out of 5

    Broken Bones Reading

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Clough

  29. 5 out of 5

    Andrés Menéndez

  30. 4 out of 5

    Casey

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