Hidden Folk: Icelandic Fantasies

by Eleanor Arnason


Secreted away in Iceland’s meadows and mountain crags dwell the Hidden Folk — magical beings from the age of the Vikings. In this new collection, Eleanor Arnason has crafted five original tales both fantastical and contemporary, where ordinary folk cross paths with elves and trolls, heroes and magicians, vengeful ghosts, a were-puffin, and even the devil himself. With the same clean, laconic style and quiet sense of humor beloved to readers of her previous award-winning novels and stories, she weaves together the rich imaginative tradition of the Norse sagas and folktales with persistent concerns of our own time: social and environmental justice, the rights of women and underrepresented peoples, and the desire of working people everywhere for freedom and self-determination. In the words of National Book Award winner Will Alexander, “Eleanor Arnason is wise, and everyone who reads Hidden Folk will become the wiser for it. They’ll have too much fun to notice, though.”

About the Author


Eleanor Arnason is the author of six novels and almost fifty works of shorter fiction. Her novel Ring of Swords, acclaimed by the New York Review of Science Fiction as one of the best s.f. novels of the 1990s, won a Minnesota Book Award. Her novel A Woman of the Iron People won the Tiptree and Mythopoeic Society Awards. Other works have been shortlisted for both the Nebula and the Hugo. She has been called “the acknowledged heir to the feminist legacy of Joanna Russ and Ursula Le Guin,” and Andrea Hairston has called her “a treasure.” Ms. Arnason lives in the Twin Cities Metro Area.


Praise for Eleanor Arnason and Hidden Folk


Like Kelly Link, Arnason twists traditional narratives into striking new forms. ... [Hidden Folk] is a terrific collection that will appeal to readers of contemporary Nordic fiction as well as to Arnasons many longtime fans.

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

The five stories in Hidden Folk offer both grit and wit in their treatments of ... the elves, trolls, and other supernatural entities of Icelandic myth. ... There are plenty of voices worth listening to in s.f. and fantasy, but few as distinctive and persuasive as Eleanor Arnasons.

Locus Magazine

These Icelandic tales are not to be trusted, filled as they are with elves and trolls, but every word of them is true. This is Arnason’s gift, placing right words in right order. It is of such tender care that magic is made.

—Terry Bisson, author of Any Day Now and Bears Discover Fire

The stories in Hidden Folk have the deep power of folktales crafted by an expert storyteller. I start reading and I lose myself as I travel through wonderfully strange places in the company of poets and ghosts, were-creatures and trolls. Fantastic tales woven of magic and dreams from the Norse tradition — what could be better?

—Pat Murphy, Nebula Award–winning author of The Falling Woman

 We treasure diamonds, and if we know what’s what, we also treasure Eleanor Arnason’s gleaming, gemlike stories. These repurposed thousand-year-old myths and tales of railroad-running dark elves are strange yet homey, grim yet gorgeous. Hidden Folk may be a slender volume, but as a collection of waking dreams, it’s immensely deep.

—Nisi Shawl, Tiptree Award–winning author of Filter House