Kingdoms of Elfin (A Delta book)

Kingdoms of Elfin (A Delta book) - Sylvia Townsend Warner A collection of wickedly witty stories about an imagined world of Elfin kingdoms (though they are all ruled by rather fickle queens, and their kings tend to be in rather precarious positions).Although mainly about the Elfin aristocracy, there is also a rag-tag collection of common elfins, changelings, werewolves and humans to add a little breadth and depth. The locales are mainly northern Europe, with the occasional excursion to eastern Europe and the Near East. The time is vaguely 13th to 17th century - it doesn't really matter to the elfins as they live for hundreds, possibly thousands, of years.These aren't jolly gnomes and fairies, nor noble elves battling evil goblins: the elfins are selfish, untrustworthy, cruel and unpredictable, all beneath a veneer of courtly manners and tradition.The stories read like folktales, and like such they often end suddenly leaving you wanting more. The endings are rarely good ones for the protagonists, few coming away unscathed, though you can never be quite sure. I like this, as nothing is guaranteed and you usually can't predict (at least I couldn't) which way the stories will run.Fantasy and folklore, murder and the macabre, wonder and wit: brilliant!