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When Darkness Loves Us

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4.04  ·  Rating details ·  698 ratings  ·  139 reviews
This two-novella collection twists together the beauty and horror underlying the seeming simplicity of small town life.

Sally Ann is a bright and bubbling farm girl, still caught in the thrill of a brand-new husband and a shining future ahead. When a careless exploration leaves her trapped underground, she learns to live again in the absence of everything she once knew. Eve
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Hardcover, 249 pages
Published January 1985 by William Morrow & Company
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Average rating 4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  698 ratings  ·  139 reviews


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Char
WHEN DARKNESS LOVES US gets ALL the stars and maybe even a few planets!

I'm going to keep this review short and I'll tell you why. A friend has been telling me for years how great this book is, but I didn't know anything about it, other than it contained two novella length stories. I think "going in blind" is the best way to attack this volume. I had no preconceptions as to what was going to happen, what the stories were about or anything at all, really.

I will say the following: both of these tal
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Grady Hendrix
Mar 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Reading horror paperbacks from the 80s is like buying drugs off the street. You wind up with so many bags of oregano that you lose hope, and then, suddenly, you’re clutching the real deal and the top of your head is lifting off and you can’t remember your name, your address, or whether you’re biologically human.

But finding the real deal brings its own flavor of depression because it raises questions like, “Why isn’t this author better known?” and “What happened to their careers?” Which is exactl
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Justin Tate
Jul 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a collection of 2 novellas. The first, "When the Darkness Loves Us," is canon horror. Totally bonkers, off the wall creeptastic. I went into it without knowing anything and loved being blindsided. I'd suggest you do the same. Every word is a twist. You will say "WTF!!??!!"at least a dozen times. Could've been longer, but I think Engstrom was smart to end things before the premise got old.

The second novella, "Beauty Is...," starts incredibly slow and I struggled to keep up with the variou
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Sadie Hartmann
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to Grady Hendrix and his coffee table book, PAPERBACKS FROM HELL (published by the amazing Quirk)- horror paperbacks are having a revival. Valancourt Books (who also should get all the praise and props for reprinting older horror paperbacks and giving them fresh, modern covers and a new lease on life) did a spin-off series called "Paperbacks From Hell" in which they reprinted in a cute, throwback mass-market size, five books and charged one low price for all five to be shipped, one a mont ...more
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mark monday
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
the darkness loves them both and they will love the darkness back. Sally Ann must make the underground her friend, away from the beauty of the sunlight and the man above; Martha retreats to a mental underworld, all the better to escape cruel reality and the cruel yellow-eyed dog of a man that broke her. darkness traps and keeps, then comforts.

they will have their sojourns into the light: Sally Ann will discover the casual, cruel reality of time moving forward; Martha will find beauty and a man t
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Janie C.
Oct 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The two novellas in this volume are different, but are equally as affecting. Each deals with the horror of existence and of the difficulty of fitting in. The first story is physical in nature, and shows how a pregnant girl trapped underground survives. The effects of years away from light and other people are stunning and blood chilling.

The second story is a touching psychological drama that promises hope while human cruelty kills it. The characters are so well drawn that they become solid and b
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Tressa
Jul 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror, dark-fiction
UPDATED WITH A REVIEW OF THE SECOND NOVELLA, BEAUTY IS...

I don't even have a proper GR shelf to put this story in, it's that unique. I found this book (consists of two novellas: When Darkness Loves Us and Beauty Is) on Amazon when I was looking for some Theodore Sturgeon books. He knew the author and wrote the forward to the book.

When Darkness Loves Us
It's the sixties and Sally Ann is enjoying resting in the sun while her new husband rides a tractor on the family farm. She goes exploring and fin
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Latasha
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i listened to the audio book which is read by Karly Hutchins. She did a great job reading these stories. I enjoyed the writing very much. It pulls you in right a way and doesn't let go. The stories were good, very original and each one different. I can see why Valancourt and Grady Hendrix wanted to reprint this and bring more awareness to this lady. I'm sure glad i bought Black Ambrosia as well.
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Ken
Oct 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to read something a little different this October and this two novella collection easily falls into the most disturbing and horrific stories that I've ever read.

This is one of a selection of novels that featured in Grady Hendrix's Paperbacks from Hell and been reprinted under that banner.
The cover jumped out at me and whilst there's no creepy dolls, the lack of a nose is significant in the second story.

Out of the two it was the titular When Darkness Loves Us that contained the most horr
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David
When will GR let us give books infinity stars? Cause that’s what I’d give When Darkness Loves Us if I could.

This book, long out of print but brought back by the incomparable Valancourt Books, consists of two novellas and, boy oh boy, do they pack a punch. There isn’t really any way to describe what goes on between these covers without sounding like a lunatic (and I mean it—I tried to briefly run down the plot of the first novella to my family yesterday and they looked at me like I had lost my e
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Angus McKeogh
May 25, 2018 rated it did not like it
This book was mentioned in Paperbacks from Hell. Moreover, there was an ironic introduction at the beginning of the book written by the author, it talked about how she knew from the age of 8 that she’d be a published author one day, and then it continued on to note that this first novel of hers was worked over significantly in workshop, and all the other students on the read aloud had concluded that it was brilliant. Well, sure enough, it’s been published. It’s actually two disconnected novellas ...more
Vickie
Feb 03, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5☆ Still processing this one...
Jamie Stewart
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kimberly
5 stars for WHEN DARKNESS LOVES US, 3 stars for BEAUTY IS. 4 Stars.
Cody | CodysBookshelf
This is one of those books I knew I’d love, I just struggled with finding time to read it — I always seemed to grab something else off my shelf. I finally decided to give it a go, as it seems to receive lots of hype lately, and I was not let down.

When Darkness Loves Us is comprised of two novellas, and while both are strong I certainly preferred the title story: a strange, grimy, more “traditional” horror work with scary monsters (and super creeps!) and that classic horror trope: getting trappe
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Audra (ouija.reads)
“You become the monster, then you justify the monster, then you glorify the monster.”

These two novellas, “When Darkness Loves Us” and “Beauty Is . . .” were my first encounter with Engstrom. Thanks to the Paperback from Hell series put out by Valancourt Books, everyone can read this incredible piece of fiction that was otherwise lost.

The first story springs from a “what if?” idea: what if a pregnant woman was trapped underground in a cave? The story immediately drew me in, and it is a dark and
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Ctgt
May 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
I was completely unfamiliar with this author but have seen her name, and this book in particular, bandied about in my horror club. I wouldn't really call this horror but dark fiction, maybe?

The title story is about a young mother-to-be who is accidentally trapped in an series of underground tunnels and ends up giving birth and living underground for many years. She adapts with help from the ghost/hallucination of her brother who was recently killed in Vietnam, explores the vast array of tunnels,
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Heather *Undercover Goth Queen*
I'm always a bit disappointed in horror, yet I really want to love it. This book contains two stories. I enjoyed them while reading, but the endings fell flat for me and put a damper on the journey. As is often the case with me and horror. I did enjoy this as female-centric horror, however, and would like to read more of that. ...more
Niki
May 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: hard-pass, fantasy, horror
Note: I only read one of the two stories contained in this book, "When Darkness Loves Us" (that's the story's name, I'm not parroting the book's title) It was the story I wanted to read from the beginning and why I bought the book.

And let me just say, I wasn't impressed. The writing is too simplistic when it should have been evocative and atmospheric as hell, the pacing is weird, and the horror just wasn't there (yes, the idea of Sally Ann's predicament is horrifying, but the actual story has a
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Monster
Jun 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
When Darkness Loves Us consists of two novellas by Elizabeth Engstrom, the first being the same title as the book itself and the other called Beauty Is, which is actually the longer of the two stories.
The first novella, When Darkness Loves Us, tells the story of farm girl Sally Ann Hixson, who is recently married. While roaming the farm, she accidentally falls down into an underground area that had been sealed off. Sally Ann is trapped underground, her whereabouts unknown. As she adjusts to the
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Ken Saunders
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like a fever dream out of WISCONSIN DEATH TRIP, these farm-life fantasies go deep beneath the bucolic and brutal daily life on northern Illinois plains and into the darkest nightmares of sexual awakening and pregnancy. Where exactly is the difference between existing and living? The book opens with a woman who does not want to be seen and disappears, and it closes with a woman who has disassociated from her own existence behind a deformity.

These are interesting aspects to consider, but primaril
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Mark Young
Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it! When Darkness Loves Us and Beauty Is... are both masterclasses in storytelling, characterisation and in particular - pacing. The former has a fast pace and is totally gripping.

Whereas the latter is slower but is in no way boring or disinteresting. BI is told intermittently through two time periods which are brought together in a superbly crafted final climactic chapter.

Pleasantly surprised by these two stories (yes there’s two for the price of one in here) and I can’t wait to read more
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Josh
Jan 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was blown away by the two novellas collected in this tightly wound package of horror; When Darkness Loves Us, and Beauty Is..., two novellas of terror which couldn't be any more unique from one another.

Darkness Loves Us is a creature feature of sorts with a distinct and disturbing human element. The hallucinogenic and oppressive nature of the story completely envelopes the reader a dangerous underworld where madness lies at the cusp of reality. Pitch perfect horror which will no doubt resonat
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Victor
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, favorites
Wow this book really packs a punch! I didn’t know what to expect going into this collection of two novellas. Both of these stories had characters that infuriated me especially the second one, Beauty Is. The first story, When Darkness Loves Us, has such a unique plot and it’s one of those situations where you really can’t predict where it’s gonna go. Beauty Is is probably my favorite of the two. It’s longer and more character driven and I liked the supernatural element in the past-present storyli ...more
Lisa
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddy-reads
I loved this book, particularly the second story. (view spoiler) ...more
Richard Martin
Nov 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Grady Hendrix is the horror gods’ gift to us all.

His coffee-table tome, ‘Paperbacks From Hell’ tread where few dare, and gives us the lowdown on literally hundreds of the pulp horror books of the 70s and 80s. Lurid, gory, and mostly terrible, Hendrix read them all and, thanks to his partnership with Valancourt Books, we are being treated to new reprints of the best of these decades-old, forgotten gems.

The second book in Valancourt’s recent reprints of lost classics of the era is Elizabeth Engst
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Richard Schaefer
This book is incredible—painful, mysterious, frightening, and heartbreaking. Given the quality of the writing and the depth of character, I am shocked this book was out of print for so long. Engstrom has a very unique perspective on the world and there is nothing predictable about either novella contained within.
The first, shorter novella, “When Darkness Loves Us”, is about a young pregnant woman stuck in a maze of caves. It captures the claustrophobia, alienation, sensory deprivation, and pain
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Thomas
I wasn't aware this was a collection of two novellas when I started reading it. In fact, it's really a novella and a novel, since the title story only covers 80 pages, while the next one makes up nearly twice that length. Still, it's one of the Paperbacks from Hell, and even though The Nest was a bit of a let-down, I still held out hope for the rest of the books in the line.

When Darkness Loves Us (the novella) is about a pregnant woman who gets trapped underground and lives there in the darkness
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Eduardo
Jun 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent!
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Elizabeth (Liz) Engstrom grew up in Park Ridge, Illinois (a Chicago suburb where she lived with her father) and Kaysville, Utah (north of Salt Lake City, where she lived with her mother). After graduating from high school in Illinois, she ventured west in a serious search for acceptable weather, eventually settling in Honolulu. She attended college and worked as an advertising copywriter.

After ei
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