Book review ‘Starving Grounds: Tales of Folk Horror’ (ARC)

  • Writer: Jay Alexander
  • Publisher: Ghoul and Gristle Press
  • Publishing date: 20 June 2022!
  • Number of pages: 129 (Tolino ereader) – 233 (paperback)
  • ISBN: 978-1-915272-09-6 (paperback)
  • My rating: 4/5
Folk Horror Tales Collection: Starving Grounds


Starving Grounds: Tales of Folk Horror
A Short Story Collection from Jay Alexander, author of The Lunchling

Welcome to Sorrow Helm…

To the woods and fens that surround it; to the creatures, cults and cruelties that hound it. Welcome to a collection of stories that bring folklore to life, that terrify and delight and that you should never, ever try to read at night.

In Starving Grounds, Jay Alexander collects seven tales of madness and horror inspired by the marshes, fens and folk stories of rural Britain. An antlered abomination tears nightmares from the trees and rends forests apart, aided and worshipped by strange, masked figures… a small community encourages tourists to visit The Bowls before they leave town – even if it means they never can… and on a fateful night in 1577, the Devil sends his dogs…

All this and more in a collection that gathers stories like “Elken”, “Fen King (A Duet)” and “Black Dogs in the Dark”. Welcome to Sorrow Helm. You’ll wish you’d never come…


I received an ARC from author Jay Alexander… this book will be released on June 20th! Pre-order it now, it’ll be well worth it! I want to begin with thanking Jay for the copy I received!

This collection contains seven folk horror tales: (blood curdling, spine shivering, jaw slacking tales!)

Elken, which I had already read in January (my review for that short is also on Goodreads) and which I reread to have a feel of what else was to come in this collection. Elken was definitely a great story, with a very dark atmosphere.

The Hucker Hole: one of my two favourites in this collection. The first thing I noticed was how the person talking spoke to someone, about someone but also referring to himself which felt bizarre at first, but once you reach the end of this tale, you are left mouth wide open and baffled. Jay’s talent as a writer is very obvious in this one… (the entire collection proved to be a testimony to his talent!)

Fen King (a Duet): this was the only little tale I felt a bit underwhelmed with this one… but as it was a short one, it doesn’t spoil the fun… and it wasn’t bad either, let me be clear…!

The Soft Parts: this is my second favourite of this collection! A folk tale that raises clay creatures into a small town which ends up in an inferno! This was written with such vigour and if really oozes from its pages!

The Bowls: across several decades a b&b is the focal point of a lot of disappearances. Who will find the reason and who can stop it?

Why doth Nana cleave me so?: I’m sure Jay had fun writing this because, although very short, it has such an impact! 🔪

Black dogs in the dark: the final story is a cruel one (well, they all are 🤭) where a bunch of people huddle together and hide in a church for some vicious hellhounds.

I had so much fun reading this, even had all else on the side just to read this. I’m sure a lot of horror fans will enjoy reading this. Fans of movies such as The Ritual and Midsommar will definitely find what they are looking for in this collection! And as far as I’m concerned, Jay has put a seriously huge stamp on the indiehorror community (writers ànd readers) and will lure a whole bunch of new readers to the community!

Great work, Jay! Well done! 👏

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