‘Under the Hills and Long Ago’ might have been a better title for this rich and varied compilation of stories about dwarves, gnomes, fairies and elves from the forests, mountains and, especially, the caves, mines and metaphysical dark places of an almost vanished Europe.
These 40 stories, culled from collections of oral traditions, were first published in English in 1981, and have been reissued as a sturdy hardback with clear print and vivid illustrations. The full- and half-page paintings by Daniela Drescher brightly and darkly depict the intricacies of a world in which there was a domestic proximity between the lives of people, plants, animals, minerals and sundry creatures who were both supernatural and ultranatural. In many of the pictures, hues of the night and the crepuscular zones gather around a radiant core of firelight and revelry; in others, mundane corners of kitchens and farms teem with glittering or shadowy sprites, mischievous, malevolent and benign. The stories vary in length and complexity, but all of them fascinate. This is a handsome resource for sharing and for independent readers to enjoy on their own.