• The Little Book of the Hidden People: Twenty Stories of Elves from Icelandic Folklore

  • By: Alda Sigmundsdottir
  • Narrated by: Alda Sigmundsdottir
  • Length: 2 hrs and 44 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (42 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Icelandic folklore is rife with tales of elves and hidden people that inhabited hills and rocks in the landscape. But what do those elf stories really tell us about the Iceland of old and the people who lived there? 

In this book, author Alda Sigmundsdóttir presents 20 translated elf stories from Icelandic folklore, along with fascinating notes on the context from which they sprung. The international media has had a particular infatuation with the Icelanders’ elf belief, generally using it to propagate some kind of “kooky Icelanders” myth. Yet Iceland’s elf folklore, at its core, reflects the plight of a nation living in abject poverty on the edge of the inhabitable world, and its people’s heroic efforts to survive, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. 

That is what the stories of the elves, or hidden people, are really about. In a country that was, at times, virtually uninhabitable, where poverty was endemic and death and grief a part of daily life, the Icelanders nurtured a belief in a world that existed parallel to their own. This was the world of the hidden people, which more often than not was a projection of the most fervent dreams and desires of the human population. 

The hidden people lived inside hillocks, cliffs, or boulders, very close to the abodes of the humans. Their homes were furnished with fine, sumptuous objects. Their clothes were luxurious, their adornments beautiful. Their livestock was better and fatter, their sheep yielded more wool than regular sheep, their crops were more bounteous. They even had supernatural powers: They could make themselves visible or invisible at will, and they could see the future. 

To the Icelanders, stories of elves and hidden people are an integral part of the cultural and psychological fabric of their nation. They are a part of their identity, a reflection of the struggles, hopes, resilience, and endurance of their people. All this and more is the subject of this book.

©2019 Little Books Publishing (P)2019 Little Books Publishing

What listeners say about The Little Book of the Hidden People: Twenty Stories of Elves from Icelandic Folklore

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Fantastic

A very enjoyable and illuminating listen. A glance into a beautiful tradition and culture
of Iceland

1 person found this helpful

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interesting fun and informative Tales from Iceland

I do love hearing the story read by an Icelander. the author's notes are interesting, insightful, and personable. It was a fun book to listen to and a joy for me to learn more about these Icelandic folk Legends.

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An Enchanting Book of Magic and Mystery

I have read many collections of folktales about elves, trolls, and fairy peoples yet this was one of the best. The stories are gripping, suspenseful, and humorous (often darkly so) with the author's notes at the end of each chapter, which offer context and interpretation in regards to Icelandic history. The narration is beautiful, just the right speed and easy to follow as an audiobook. I listened to the whole thing over a few days of walking outside. Then immediately bought another of her books. I highly recommend this book!

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Love this book

Iceland is a gorgeous place like nowhere else on earth. I enjoyed hearing all of these stories. When I lived there in a very rural area it was easy to believe in elves. Especially if you are miles from other people and things are always getting moved around the house or yard. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

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pure enjoyment

The stories were simple and rich at the same time. loved listening to the crisp clear voice in a beautiful cadence. The introduction felt long at first and I wanted to get to the tales, but once the tales started I was entranced and appreciated some of the explanations given.

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  • Gerald T. Walford
  • 09-03-19

Enchanting

Enchanting...and NOT just in the elvish way! I loved the humanity and the understated drama within the deceptively simple narratives. Then there are the notes which add yet more layers of meaning to the stories. Alda Sigmundsdottir has a great voice to listen to: warm, direct, and accessible, and her message is a powerful one: Icelandic elves are not cutesy, quirky escapism. They're something rather more than that: a mental map and reference point for the old Icelanders, and a way of making life in the farthest North more bearable through the long wintertimes. As such their alive with coded messages, ideals and issues. A real joy to listen to! I still can't tell you why exactly these stories from so long ago and so far away have such an ability to draw you in: there's strangeness for sure, but also shocks of recognition and connection. Anyway, I loved this, and have downloaded Alda's other book from audible on the strength of it. Amazing!

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  • Miss Jennings
  • 07-15-19

Fascinating folk tales and history from Iecland

If you've ever seen any of those media stories about "those quirky Icelanders and their belief in elves", this book will teach you the rich literary tradition and harsh reality behind those stories. It's also fantastic to have a native speaker read the Icelandic words, place names, etc. Definitely recommend!

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