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I read this in the seventies - can't remember if paperback etc. Could have been YA.

It's set in southern England, at some place where Downs country meets marshland. There are two types of 'little people' who live in hiding (at one point a full grown one was compared in height to a schoolgirl and he was around 4 foot 8 inches)

One clan lives on the Downs with hidden places inside hills, they mostly herd sheep.

The enemy clan lives in the marshland with vast caves where they dive underwater to enter.

These clans are hostile and kill each other if they find wanderers. Sometimes small wars happen. Always in secret from humanity (they call us giants) In local villages there has been folk tales for centuries about the 'fair ones'

The fairies have a limited sixth sense and a deep understanding of nature, they can sometimes get rabbits to walk directly to them for capture.

Some teens get involved somehow with an injured Down dweller who is trapped and they help fend off a marshlander attack.

Then they end up also looking (I think) after a marshlander but the rest has faded in my memory.

One final bit...they find out the marshlander has only eaten sweet things once or twice in their life because it's very difficult to get sweet stuff in water. A horrified fat kid dashes off home and comes back with a load of biscuits and chocolate.

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This sounds a lot like Power of Three by Diana Wynne Jones from 1976.

Cover for Power of Three paperback

It's a little younger than YA, but a lot of points match otherwise:

  • it's set in southern England around marshland.
  • there are two types of 'little people', the Lymen and Dorig.
  • one clan lives on the Downs with hidden places inside hills, the other in water.
  • humans are called giants
  • the battle and humans helping out
  • there's a scene with a kid and some food the little people haven't tried before (I don't have the book to hand to be exact though)
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  • That was the one. I remember now it was my sisters from her school library. I used to borrow loads of her books for reading on the Night shift.
    – Danny Mc G
    Commented Oct 26, 2018 at 19:19
  • @Danny3414 it's a good book, worth reading again :)
    – moopet
    Commented Oct 26, 2018 at 19:58
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    i downloaded the ebook ten minutes ago - added to my TBR pile!
    – Danny Mc G
    Commented Oct 26, 2018 at 20:22
  • I couldn't resist. I had to read it again after all these years. Very odd story, written from the viewpoints of various kids of all three species, but a bit grimdark with human sacrifices and evil curses.
    – Danny Mc G
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 12:59

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