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When Darkness Loves Us by Elizabeth Engstrom

Updated: Dec 3, 2022

Beauty is...

These are my kind of horror stories. Psychological and deeply disturbing with a wonderful garnish of gore. When Darkness Loves Us contains two novellas: the title story and Beauty Is.

When Darkness Loves Us: This story is not for the faint of heart. Or should I say, not for those who may grow faint in small, dark spaces. When Sally Ann is accidentally locked away in the tunnels beneath her home, she discovers a new world... and that new world becomes her. She adapts for the better or for the worse, depending on how you see it.

My podcast partner, Andi Brotten, wasn’t able to read this story because of how claustrophobic it is and I don’t blame her. I’m not a fan of watching people bury underground either. But this was an exception and I’m glad I hung on. The story is about 80 pages so a quick read that will give you those nightmarish goosebumps guaranteed.

Beauty Is...: I love this story. Definitely my favorite of the two and a bit longer than the first. Elizabeth Engstrom’s writing is so eloquent that although the mystery gradually unfolds at a slow pace, I couldn’t peel my eyes away from the pages. The characters were incredibly unique; I never read anything like this before. Martha Mannes, an older, mentally disabled person, lives by herself in her large farm in Illinois. When new friends stop by out of the blue to show her some love, things start to change for Martha. She starts... to learn. But poor Martha.... that ending left me so sad and heartbroken. I won’t share any spoilers but it was tragically dark and beautiful.

I’m starting to grow really fond of these quick novella reads and I absolutely suggest this format to anyone who likes stories but doesn’t want to commit to a Stephen King-like length. And I strongly suggest Beauty Is as your first pit stop in the realm of horror novellas.


Mona Kabbani is a horror fan, book reviewer, and writer obsessed with psychology and the human condition. She emulates the conflict of the good versus the bad and all the inbetween in her work while providing an entertainingly horrifying experience.

You can follow her adventures on Instagram and check out her debut novel THE BELL CHIME !

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