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When Darkness Loves Us (Paperbacks from Hell) (1985)

by Elizabeth Engstrom

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1065226,712 (3.7)3
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. Even driven by love and light, Sally Ann finds the deepest darkness within herself in When Darkness Loves Us. Old Martha Mannes has been a part of Morgan, Illinois since her birth. The whole town knows her as the dim-witted woman who was born without a nose, but Martha's mind wasn't always a blank slate. Unlocking the monster buried deep in her memories may bring back the sparkling child she once was...or it may send those around her crashing down into the nightmares of a little girl gone wrong. A reprinting of Elizabeth Engstrom's first book, this two-novella collection twists together the beauty and horror underlying the seeming simplicity of small town life.… (more)
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» See also 3 mentions

Showing 5 of 5
This book contains two novellas/short stories.

The best thing I can say about the first one is that it's short. I ended up DNFing the second story after reading 5 or so chapters. Neither one was compelling. Both were quite boring and sad, and not really horror in my opinion. ( )
  LynnK. | Aug 4, 2020 |
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 tales feature women as the protagonists. These women are tough, they're fighters, and they're brave. They make the most of what they have and try not to complain. Which makes it all the more difficult for the reader when the stories turn, as they both do.

A word about the writing-it was beautiful at times. Often, it was beautiful and horrific all at once, which must be a hard thing to pull off, because even reading as much as I do, I rarely come across that perfect, vivid style. I'm not usually a fan of flowery writing but I submit this as a perfect paragraph, descriptive but not overly so, resulting in a tight little description of the seasons on a rural farm:

"Winter was a mean ogre, dangerous and ugly, yet his reign was oddly cozy and comfortable as they rested during this respite from the sweltering summer. Spring was a baby bunny, soft and warm, but skittish, and able to dash into frantic motion in less than a heartbeat of time. Spring was clean. Then summer again, a paper queen of vivid reds, purples and greens, fading in the sunlight, turning all the colors a sickly yellow while the paper itself became crisp and brittle. Autumn was a deer, beautiful and swift. And winter had come again."

This book was like autumn, actually, (at least it is the way Ms. Engstrom described it), beautiful and swift. And horrific and heartbreaking. And all the other words that describe the type of read that never leaves you. I don't know what else to say other than:

My HIGHEST recommendation!

*Thank you to Valancourt Books for the e-ARC for review consideration. I considered it and said Hell, yeah!*

( )
  Charrlygirl | Mar 22, 2020 |
This is two novellas originally published in 1985. The first one, about a young woman who gets trapped in some tunnels underground, was just wild. The second one, about a woman born disfigured and developmentally disabled, was longer and overall a more psychologically disturbing story. I thought both were great and had some interesting underlying themes about women's lives and how they are treated by the men in their lives.

This was a reissue from Valancourt Books in the Paperbacks from Hell line. ( )
2 vote sturlington | Jan 1, 2020 |
I loved this book ( )
  AlexWMcPherson | Jan 24, 2013 |
Absolutely chilling. I loved every word. ( )
1 vote lesleydawn | Nov 24, 2009 |
Showing 5 of 5
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elizabeth Engstromprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hendrix, GradyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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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. Even driven by love and light, Sally Ann finds the deepest darkness within herself in When Darkness Loves Us. Old Martha Mannes has been a part of Morgan, Illinois since her birth. The whole town knows her as the dim-witted woman who was born without a nose, but Martha's mind wasn't always a blank slate. Unlocking the monster buried deep in her memories may bring back the sparkling child she once was...or it may send those around her crashing down into the nightmares of a little girl gone wrong. A reprinting of Elizabeth Engstrom's first book, this two-novella collection twists together the beauty and horror underlying the seeming simplicity of small town life.

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