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Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke

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Sadomasochism. Obsession. Death. A whirlpool of darkness churns at the heart of a macabre ballet between two lonely young women in an internet chat room in the early 2000s—a darkness that threatens to forever transform them once they finally succumb to their most horrific desires. What have you done today to deserve your eyes?


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Sadomasochism. Obsession. Death. A whirlpool of darkness churns at the heart of a macabre ballet between two lonely young women in an internet chat room in the early 2000s—a darkness that threatens to forever transform them once they finally succumb to their most horrific desires. What have you done today to deserve your eyes?

30 review for Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke

  1. 4 out of 5

    Gabby

    Holy shit!!!! Idk what the fuck I just read but I loved it? This is one of the most disturbing and disgusting horror novels I’ve ever read but I can’t stop thinking about it. I’m kind of mad this book ended where it did cause I could’ve read at least another hundred pages of this, but I also respect where it ended, that ending was so powerful!!!! This is one of the darkest and most disturbing horror novels I’ve ever read and I was truly horrified by some of the things I read about. I love that i Holy shit!!!! Idk what the fuck I just read but I loved it? This is one of the most disturbing and disgusting horror novels I’ve ever read but I can’t stop thinking about it. I’m kind of mad this book ended where it did cause I could’ve read at least another hundred pages of this, but I also respect where it ended, that ending was so powerful!!!! This is one of the darkest and most disturbing horror novels I’ve ever read and I was truly horrified by some of the things I read about. I love that it takes place in the year 2000 and the entire book is told in instant messages and emails between these two women. I fucking loved this, and I just have one question; what did you do to deserve your eyes today? 👀 Reading vlog: https://youtu.be/EnQ8XQSzSxQ

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sadie Hartmann

    Review originally published at LitReactor: https://litreactor.com/reviews/things... I decided to write this review in the style of one of my personal favorite tools of the trade, NoveList Plus powered by EBSCO. NoveList Plus is a huge database of book recommendations serving as a resource and guide for library workers. Patrons of most local public libraries can access this database through each public library's website using a personal library card. I use this database all the time. The recommendat Review originally published at LitReactor: https://litreactor.com/reviews/things... I decided to write this review in the style of one of my personal favorite tools of the trade, NoveList Plus powered by EBSCO. NoveList Plus is a huge database of book recommendations serving as a resource and guide for library workers. Patrons of most local public libraries can access this database through each public library's website using a personal library card. I use this database all the time. The recommendations written by library workers utilize several key elements to help users find a specific book, and then from that one book, find other similar books called, "Read-Alikes", based on matched criteria like pace, tone, genre, themes, and writing styles. NoveList Pro calls these Book Appeal Terms: Appeal is a way of determining why people enjoy the books they read. Some readers already have a good vocabulary for talking about the books they love, while some do better in talking about books they never want to read again – but framing these conversations around appeal is the foundation for helping people find what to read next. It's extremely helpful and I hope you'll check it out. Here's how I access NoveList Plus at my library: Home Page > Online Library > A to Z Resources > NoveList Pro > Login with unique Library Card ID Here's an example of what you will find at NoveList Pro with my "mock NoveList Pro entry" for Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke by Eric LaRocca Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke (June 2021) Author: LaRocca, Eric Adult, Fiction Description: A woman posts a family heirloom for sale to an internet chat room. A woman responds to the post with a desire to buy. This exchange begins a harrowing correspondence between these two lonely women. Book Appeal Terms: Genre: Epistolary, Horror, Adult, Psychological Suspense, First-person POVs Themes: Obsession, Sadomasochism, Excessive Emotional or Psychological Reliance on a Partner, Internet, Storyline: Character-driven, Character exploration Pace: Fast-Paced, Engrossing Tone: Compelling, Menacing, Disturbing, Thought-provoking, Dark, Edgy, Intensifying Dread Writing style: Stylistically Complex, No Exposition, Experimental, Intricately Plotted Reading this novella is an agreement to embark on a voyeuristic character study between two women who meet through an online message board. As the title of the novella suggests, a friendly exchange back and forth between two strangers about an antique apple peeler begins to blossom into a shared intimacy and ultimately, an arrangement. For the sake of preserving discovery, this is all that should be known before heading into this dark story. Readers sharing in the same real-time spontaneity the characters go through as they send and receive each other's emails is why this novella works so well. Definitely carve out enough time to enjoy this book from beginning to end. There isn't a good place to drop a bookmark in and save the rest for later. This book slowly turns up the intensifying dread little by little until its shocking conclusion. There is a masterful subtlety the author uses to reveal the identity and mental state of his characters; little signs, tells, carefully chosen words, repeated phrases, and insights. Every new email Agnes sends to Zoe or Zoe sends to Agnes is an escalation in their relationship providing rich food for thought. Curiosity gives way to concern; concern gives way to internal screaming and internal screaming ultimately gives way to devastation. Bleak, clever, edgy, and vicious. Eric LaRocca draws his readers in for something they will never expect and never forget. After the review section, all the above book details like genre, setting, character, tone, writing style, subjects, are separated out with little check boxes next to each one. Users can then check the boxes to filter the search engine to give results. So if you checked "Menacing", "Obsession", and "Psychological Suspense", NoveList will list Read-Alikes. In this case, if you enjoyed Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke, I would recommend: Little Eyes by Samantha Schweblin, The Perfect Fraud by Ellen LaCorte, The Body Lies by Jo Baker Please try NoveList Plus at your local library. It has changed the way I read and review books. Also, today is the release date of Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke, and it's a five star recommendation from me. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Char

    Psychological horror combined with body horror can be bold, can be inclusive, and still be shocking as hell. Epistolary stories are among my favorites and this is no exception. Told as a series of emails and direct messages, this is the story of two women. That’s all I’m going to say plot-wise. I read this as two people meeting-those two people whose connection is almost a sickness. The two people who fill the gaps in each other, and then together expand to be something else entirely. A new enti Psychological horror combined with body horror can be bold, can be inclusive, and still be shocking as hell. Epistolary stories are among my favorites and this is no exception. Told as a series of emails and direct messages, this is the story of two women. That’s all I’m going to say plot-wise. I read this as two people meeting-those two people whose connection is almost a sickness. The two people who fill the gaps in each other, and then together expand to be something else entirely. A new entity. Sometimes, this is a beautiful thing-this time, it is not. I found myself in mind of Kathe Koja’s THE CIPHER, due to the body horror and exploration of all it means to be, and to be a woman. (Funhole, anyone?) In certain respects this is reminiscent of old school Clive Barker too, but I can’t put my finger on exactly why. Perhaps because this tale is so wild? Perhaps it’s because of the story’s boldness, and its utter lack of caring what the reader thinks. It’s presented as fact and no matter how far things go, it’s already over, you’re hooked and you cannot pull away. To that I say BRAVO!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    "Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke" Now that is an understatement if ever there was one. In the early 2000s, Agnes goes onto an LGBT message board trying to sell an antique apple peeler (for those of you who didn't experience the internet in the early 2000s, before sites like craigslist and such existed, this was not that uncommon). A friendship is formed with a potential buyer named Zoe. The two women form a relationship online and our story is told through emails and instant message c "Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke" Now that is an understatement if ever there was one. In the early 2000s, Agnes goes onto an LGBT message board trying to sell an antique apple peeler (for those of you who didn't experience the internet in the early 2000s, before sites like craigslist and such existed, this was not that uncommon). A friendship is formed with a potential buyer named Zoe. The two women form a relationship online and our story is told through emails and instant message chats… but are they seeking the same sort of relationship? Is one… or both… manipulating the other? We also know from page 1 that Agnes is now dead and these files are from a police investigation trying to charge Zoe. "There's something Godlike about holding something so small - something that solely depends on your kindness, your generosity. I had never thought about hurting something before. Until now. I imagined what it might be like. I imagined closing my hand to make a fist until its tiny body was squished, its innards squeezed out like toothpaste from its mouth open in a muted scream." That quote sums up the entire story. This is a psychological horror story. Nothing presented is supernatural, the fear is from our minds and how people can be manipulated. This is a story of a manipulator and how things can go when manipulating someone with the wrong state of mind. Beyond that you'll have to read for yourself. Now, on a negative side of things, I think the book moved too quickly. I know it has a short page count, so we need to rush things along, but we're given dates on the chat logs and frankly not much time happens before a serious relationship was formed. Yes, it was the early 2000s and people were more trusting on the internet. Yes, there's some events that make it more believable, but it just seems like they have less than 10 emails and a few chats and they're entering a very serious life change. I wish the book would have taken more time with it. We know from the start something horrible will happen, and the cordial, practically formal letters at the start add to the tension. I wish more time would have been dedicated to the seduction angle of the manipulation as it would have made the story more realistic and would have built more tension… or, as we are given (omitted) sections due to the police angle, we at least had some omitted emails and more time pass to imply longer discussion rather than just a few days. That said, that's my only real complaint. This is a compelling story; one that got under my skin and genuinely unnerved me in parts. Reading some of the messages made me feel almost sick seeing the manipulation in place and that everyone, is where the real horror here lies. 4/5 stars. "What have you done today to deserve your eyes?"

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jules

    literally there are no words for this. cis men stop writing trauma p0rn about lesbians. please. i’m begging you.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Richard Martin

    Told as a series of e-mail exchanges and instant messages between two women, being shared as part of an ongoing police investigation, ‘Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke’ is a disturbing descent into the minds of a master manipulator and someone who is struggling to find their place and is desperate to find somewhere they belong. Set in the year 2000, when the internet was still burgeoning and social media was a thing of the future, there is still a lot about the online aspect of this s Told as a series of e-mail exchanges and instant messages between two women, being shared as part of an ongoing police investigation, ‘Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke’ is a disturbing descent into the minds of a master manipulator and someone who is struggling to find their place and is desperate to find somewhere they belong. Set in the year 2000, when the internet was still burgeoning and social media was a thing of the future, there is still a lot about the online aspect of this startling new novella that will resonate with anyone who spends any amount of time on sites like Facebook or Twitter. It is a story that is about manipulation, and depression told through the lens of a young woman trying to make a connection with somebody from behind a computer screen. The book opens with a fictional author’s introduction, alluding to an ongoing police investigation. No spoilers, but needless to say that outlining how things play before the book even begins is a bold gambit, but totally pays off once you delve into the documents that make up the book’s narrative drive. The opening chapter is an advert on an online message-board (remember them?) placed by Agnes, who is looking to sell a treasured antique passed down through her family for generations. When she gets a response from Zoe, who is interested in buying, Agnes opens up to her about her reasons for selling, and we find that she is struggling financially and is parting with this treasured heirloom, somewhat unwillingly, in order to make that month’s rent payment. It is an understated and low-key start, but the brilliance of this novella is how insidiously the stakes build and the escalation slowly creeps up on you. Agnes seems almost desperate to share private details about her life, freely telling very personal stories with very little encouragement. Zoe, on the other hand, remains something of an enigma, even as the story progresses and while we learn a lot about Agnes, her upbringing and her life in general throughout the book, most of what we learn about Zoe is inferred and not explicit, knowing what we do by her actions and by reading between the lines, and not what she tells Agnes. Things escalate fairly rapidly once Agnes feels more comfortable with Zoe, and things build to a horrifying crescendo, replete with some pretty gnarly and unpleasant body horror. As skilled as Larocca is at subtlety, and conveying his characters feelings and intentions without necessarily stating them explicitly, he proves to be equally adept at making the reader uncomfortable, and the books ending is equal parts memorable, upsetting and horrifyingly surreal. By the books close, answers are not forthcoming beyond those that we were given right from page one. I was struck by an urge to re-read immediately after putting it down because it is one of those rare stories where every line, and every word, carries weight. Much like social media in 2020, the way people represent themselves online is not always how they may be face to face and intentions are easily hidden behind carefully curated tweets or seemingly innocuous posts with a veiled agenda. There is a lot happening in the correspondence between these two women that is never stated but is there if you read carefully enough, and the ease with which things get out of hand is what disturbs the most. ‘Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke’ is a truly masterful piece of writing. By opening with a summation of how things ultimately play out, it adds a crushing weight and tension to everything that comes after, turning seemingly innocent messages into something altogether more sinister. It’s a pitch-perfect look into what motivates people, abuse of power and malicious exploitation behind a screen of anonymity that won’t be so easily forgotten after the final page is done.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Arda

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book had a lot of elements that I like, but was overpowered by a lot of thematic overtones that I absolutely cannot stand. I wouldn't say it's "triggering" for me, because it really isn't, but it some if its major themes are things that I DON'T appreciate and feel great disdain for. I read this book in about an hour, so its readability isn't at all in question. Instead of a normal review, I'm going to set it down in the form of a pro/con list, and you can form your own opinions. + It's an ep This book had a lot of elements that I like, but was overpowered by a lot of thematic overtones that I absolutely cannot stand. I wouldn't say it's "triggering" for me, because it really isn't, but it some if its major themes are things that I DON'T appreciate and feel great disdain for. I read this book in about an hour, so its readability isn't at all in question. Instead of a normal review, I'm going to set it down in the form of a pro/con list, and you can form your own opinions. + It's an epistolary novella. Anyone who knows me knows that I love anything in the form of letters. + This particular epistolary novella is set in the year 2000s, so it's actually based solely on e-mails and instant messages. As someone who spent their formative years on having "deep, meaningful" conversations on AIM, this was super cool for me. + The main character is a lesbian. This ends up actually becoming my biggest negative, however. - The main character is a lesbian. The author (who is, it is important to note, a cisgender man) makes sure to flesh out her character just enough to show us that she's been completely cast out from her family, that she had a dysfunctional childhood, and that now she's got an insatiable need to be a mother and she's extremely mentally ill. So basically, she falls into this huge, gaping "gay people can't live normal, healthy lives" trope that works especially well in the *lazy* horror genre. - The author uses everyone's favorite "crazy woman" plot device as his crutch for this novella. The plot twist is finding out *which* woman is *crazier*, the BDSM Mommy or the broken-home Sub? - This novel paints BDSM in the terrible, one-dimensional point of view which is characteristic of any cheap, pot-shot horror novel. This is the one where master/slave relationships involve true mental degradation, there's no such thing as a safe word, and, hooray! small animals need to get murdered for you to show your loyalty. You know, because anything different from what your proclivities may be must be bad, creepy, or dangerous. I would have expected something like this to have come out DECADES AGO due to its not-so-subtle treatment of anyone who could be considered "other", not quite literally YESTERDAY. What have I today to deserve my eyes? Certainly not read this novella.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Steph

    that was fuckin weird!! the book's acknowledgements describe it as a "bizarre fantasy of manipulation and depravity" and a "macabre tale of online lust and perversion" and a "nasty little nugget of terror." but i mostly just thought it was gross. i love the premise: a short novella in epistolary format, chronicling the odd relationship between two women over emails and IMs in the year 2000. i was extremely intrigued, and interested to watch their relationship quickly evolve from respectful friends that was fuckin weird!! the book's acknowledgements describe it as a "bizarre fantasy of manipulation and depravity" and a "macabre tale of online lust and perversion" and a "nasty little nugget of terror." but i mostly just thought it was gross. i love the premise: a short novella in epistolary format, chronicling the odd relationship between two women over emails and IMs in the year 2000. i was extremely intrigued, and interested to watch their relationship quickly evolve from respectful friendship to demanding sugar mommy situation. i also enjoy the themes of loneliness and misguided devotion. but the ending is abrupt, and the book doesn't feel as meaningful as i'd hoped. there's no character development, and very little emotional resonance. much of the visceral nastiness seems to be there for shock value. (view spoiler)[my friend and i both read this in one sitting tonight, and somehow she predicted the vore from the very beginning! to love someone enough to want to consume them. or to consume someone because you know it's what's best for them. it's an interesting theme, but i'm glad the book didn't include any ACTUAL human vore. instead there's the brutal slaying of a salamander, and consumption of raw meat and bugs as part of a quest to host a parasite. weird gross shit! it's also kind of icky for a man to write a story about a mentally ill lesbian who is of course determined to have a baby. the characters are kind of like outdated caricatures of a traumatized needy sub and a demanding mommy dom lesbian. it feels like the author is indulging in the tragic dysfunction of a sapphic relationship. is this trauma porn?? (hide spoiler)]

  9. 5 out of 5

    Janie C.

    This is an ominous and psychologically horrifying story by a very talented author. Eric LaRocca carves his characters sharply enough to cut through skin and emotion, leaving us breathtless as events unfold between two strangers. One is trusting and vulnerable, while the other has a blood red mean streak. Their completely online relationship is disturbing and impossible to look away from. If you are searching for a well-written and compelling story of manipulation and gullibility, this is your bo This is an ominous and psychologically horrifying story by a very talented author. Eric LaRocca carves his characters sharply enough to cut through skin and emotion, leaving us breathtless as events unfold between two strangers. One is trusting and vulnerable, while the other has a blood red mean streak. Their completely online relationship is disturbing and impossible to look away from. If you are searching for a well-written and compelling story of manipulation and gullibility, this is your book. Kudos, Mr. LaRocca. I look forward to reading much more of your work.

  10. 4 out of 5

    ❀ annie ❀

    8/10, completely ruined my day!!

  11. 5 out of 5

    The Book Dad

    Eric LaRocca delt a devastating blow in what felt like ten rounds in a heavy weight fight, destroying what was left of my (newly) fragile conscious state after reading Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke. In this horrifically bleak and grizzly tale, LaRocca crafts what is likely to be the most celebrated novella of 2021. I have enjoyed observing this weirdly disturbing tale flourish like that of the life that grows in this story while cherishing every moment reading, unable to let it pa Eric LaRocca delt a devastating blow in what felt like ten rounds in a heavy weight fight, destroying what was left of my (newly) fragile conscious state after reading Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke. In this horrifically bleak and grizzly tale, LaRocca crafts what is likely to be the most celebrated novella of 2021. I have enjoyed observing this weirdly disturbing tale flourish like that of the life that grows in this story while cherishing every moment reading, unable to let it pass. This is a truly triumphant accomplishment for the #HorrorCommunity and I am grateful for having the opportunity to read it. https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMdcyFsrk/

  12. 5 out of 5

    Elle

    The novella is told as a police report, via email and IM snippets, bringing the reader back to the 2000s. We first meet Agnes, who is trying to sell an antique apple peeler that once belonged to her grandmother. Zoe replies to her, and the two of them find that they are drawn to one another. Thus begins an online relationship between the two of them, one that begins as friendship and slowly becomes something more, something incredibly powerful. Zoe then expresses an interest in entering a dom/su The novella is told as a police report, via email and IM snippets, bringing the reader back to the 2000s. We first meet Agnes, who is trying to sell an antique apple peeler that once belonged to her grandmother. Zoe replies to her, and the two of them find that they are drawn to one another. Thus begins an online relationship between the two of them, one that begins as friendship and slowly becomes something more, something incredibly powerful. Zoe then expresses an interest in entering a dom/sub relationship with Agnes, which she agrees to though she is tentative at first, but gradually Zoe begins asking more and more, and Agnes begins giving more than either of them bargained for. I read this book initially because it was recommended to me as a fan of the death trope and dark, over-the-top gore, so I was super hyped for this. Once I passed the first few pages and began to understand the format of the book I thought it was fantastic, something new and not that often seen. I really thought that this would be a 5 star read. I absolutely loved the premise, and often do when it comes to LaRocca's work; his ability to twist words and give life to the grotesque is exceptional, and this novella is no exception, this book was stunningly grotesque in its depiction of gore and violence... and then we move on to what was grotesque about everything else. Unfortunately, by the end, I found its content more harmful than I did entertaining. My biggest gripe is that I don’t think that this concept works within a novella, which is honestly a real shame. Because there isn’t enough room for the story to grow and as a result, there are concerning implications made. First of all, the two main characters are lesbians, which is neither here nor there, but because of the lack of development in the plot, we’re given a surface level and rather cliché representation of homosexual characters with detailed (more so than anything else in the novella) unpleasant home lives, broken family relationships spanning from childhood to adulthood, a burning desire to procreate, and significant ill mental health issues. The combination of these things falls dangerously close to the cheap horror trope of “they’re gay, there must have been something wrong when they were children” and borders on exploiting long-dangerous views of female hysteria, which is something that I would expect to come across in a piece of work written decades ago, not in 2021. Secondly, I did not think I would have to point out that an interest in BDSM and/or sadomasochism does not equate to mental health issues, but some reviewers seem to need the reminder. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that this wasn't the impression LaRocca was trying to leave, but it's certainly one I came close to getting. There is an uncomfortable insinuation that the dom/sub relationship is the catalyst for the awful things that happen, and I found it a distasteful inclusion that had absolutely no reason to be there otherwise. There was no mention of a safe word, of prior experience or understanding of expectation, no discussion about boundaries or limits. It jumped, within a handful of sentences, right into crazy. This is a dangerous impression to leave and can paint a very unpleasant, inaccurate image of kink to those who don't know better or who may begin to stereotype based on representations like this. Lastly, and kind of tying back to my first point, I just found the ending to be so incredibly underwhelming. The idea of “what did you do today to deserve your eyes” didn’t make a great deal of sense, and had no real bearing beyond Agnes' vague belief that every day, a person should do something special enough that it determines they deserve to be alive. There was very little tie in to the actual relationship and really, it could have been removed and wouldn’t have made a shred of difference to the narrative or the overall plot. It bothered me to no end because these few words have so much untapped potential, and if more creative attention had been paid to this there could have been some moments of real horror and introspection. Instead we got lazy shock horror for the sake of shock horror. Sorry, this book just did not do it for me. I can see why others liked it, but to me it felt like a handful of possible plot scribblings with no real depth or development, and overall felt like it was just lazily written, meant to gross people out of realising that there is no substance here.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra

    Shallow trauma porn about 2 queer characters that are queer strictly to give the only dimension they possess of being "damaged." it's just a bunch of wordy descriptions of "dark" scenes that lack depth but are certainly full of superfluous language. Shallow trauma porn about 2 queer characters that are queer strictly to give the only dimension they possess of being "damaged." it's just a bunch of wordy descriptions of "dark" scenes that lack depth but are certainly full of superfluous language.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Juan Valencia

    Queer misery porn with nothing particularly important or momentous to say. Reads very fast and was pretty entertaining. Its biggest obstacle is that it attempts to be grandiose and impactful, with gnostic and Biblical symbolism about sacrifice and rebirth to spare, but it mostly only jabs at the reader with the blunt tools of cheap shock theatrics. Tired and overused lesbian and BDSM tropes abound. The ending was (unintentionally?) hilarious, a la Matthew Stokoe, and yet its refusal to embrace i Queer misery porn with nothing particularly important or momentous to say. Reads very fast and was pretty entertaining. Its biggest obstacle is that it attempts to be grandiose and impactful, with gnostic and Biblical symbolism about sacrifice and rebirth to spare, but it mostly only jabs at the reader with the blunt tools of cheap shock theatrics. Tired and overused lesbian and BDSM tropes abound. The ending was (unintentionally?) hilarious, a la Matthew Stokoe, and yet its refusal to embrace its absurdity was quite infuriating. I didn’t react much except with a nonplussed chuckle here and there, surely the kind Dennis Cooper would let out at having to witness the exact kind of “economical transgression” he always set out to push back against with his truly troubling writing. 1 1/2 stars (rounded up to 2) for readability and mild entertainment. Also, note to self: This is the last time I buy a book at the “As seen on TikTok” display at B&N.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nark

    hmm.. no. that was kinda wack. don’t get the hype whatsoever. really beautiful cover though!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    What have you done today to deserve your eyes Things have gotten worse is a short psychological horror told in epistolary form. Set in 2000, Agnes and Zoe meet in an online queer community board and strike up a relationship that rapidly devolves into something deeply dysfunctional. The writing and premise are great. I found lines and imagery that will stick with me forever. As decadently red as a severed artery in full bloom The story actually came across more tragic than insidious. I didn't find What have you done today to deserve your eyes Things have gotten worse is a short psychological horror told in epistolary form. Set in 2000, Agnes and Zoe meet in an online queer community board and strike up a relationship that rapidly devolves into something deeply dysfunctional. The writing and premise are great. I found lines and imagery that will stick with me forever. As decadently red as a severed artery in full bloom The story actually came across more tragic than insidious. I didn't find it shocking or horrific. Instead, it felt like any other tale of woe that would eventually end up as a popular documentary of the week on Netflix. Maybe it was all the hype surrounding the book, but I guess I was expecting something... more. Something darker. Which is why I gave it 4 stars instead one 5. Overall, it was solidly f**ked up. And a massive shout out to the most sublime cover art I've seen in a while.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Wow, this is a level of madness I wasn’t anticipating. Quite a lot for such a little novella with an innocuous opening about an antique apple peeler 😂 Time to read a romance novel and hopefully not have creepy dreams later

  18. 4 out of 5

    destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]

    I read this in one sitting last night and can't stop thinking about it, almost 24 hours later. This is one of those stories that, despite its brevity, is going to stick with me for a long time to come. This was one of the most unsettling, disturbing things I have ever read, and I could not put it down. Things Have Gotten Worse is a story told through instant messages and emails, and I'd like to start by saying this storytelling mechanism works brilliantly for this story. We only get to see the bi I read this in one sitting last night and can't stop thinking about it, almost 24 hours later. This is one of those stories that, despite its brevity, is going to stick with me for a long time to come. This was one of the most unsettling, disturbing things I have ever read, and I could not put it down. Things Have Gotten Worse is a story told through instant messages and emails, and I'd like to start by saying this storytelling mechanism works brilliantly for this story. We only get to see the bits of each character that they allow each other to see, and because of this, I found myself curious about each woman's motives, or wondering how they would react to a scenario. As we get further into the story, many of the emails are being told after certain events have already happened, and the entire dynamic builds so wonderfully on the impending sense of dread that begins on the very first page. There's so little I can say about this story without spoiling anything, and this is absolutely the type of book that I recommend going into without having been spoiled if you can. If you need to check the content warnings, I've added them below, hidden in spoiler tags and split between the non-spoilery and the spoilery ones. THGW is a very graphic and disturbing read, which is certainly not a bad thing in my eyes, only something that I believe readers should be aware of beforehand: this is a story you'll want to steel yourself for. Things Have Gotten Worse is my second read from Eric, and while I immensely enjoyed Starving Ghosts in Every Thread last year, this was even better. I love the way Eric's mind works and the characters and scenarios they create, and I will be eagerly awaiting all of their future releases, because I have no doubt they're going to continue blowing my mind at every turn. ✨ Representation: Agnes and Zoe are both lesbians. ✨ Content warnings for: NON-SPOILERY CWs: (view spoiler)[homophobia, disowning by a parent, poverty/fear of homelessness, memories of childhood trauma and abuse, descriptions of child abuse/torture/murder (not involving characters in the book, told as an aside story that can be skimmed past without missing plot details if needed) (hide spoiler)] SPOILERY CWs (do not click unless you are okay with vague spoilers!): (view spoiler)[animal abuse/murder, body horror, insects/parasites, implied extreme self-harm, toxic/abusive dom/sub relationship (hide spoiler)]

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ross Jeffery

    ‘Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke is a masterpiece of disturbing fiction, utterly beguiling and beautifully horrific. Eric LaRocca is one of the brightest minds writing horror today!’ This is the emergence of a masterful storyteller and a book that is destined for greatness - don’t sleep on this book, you need it in your life, believe the hype! This book will haunt you long after reading... you’ve been warned! Watch my full review here - https://youtu.be/7YuB4VM0NJA If this book doesn ‘Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke is a masterpiece of disturbing fiction, utterly beguiling and beautifully horrific. Eric LaRocca is one of the brightest minds writing horror today!’ This is the emergence of a masterful storyteller and a book that is destined for greatness - don’t sleep on this book, you need it in your life, believe the hype! This book will haunt you long after reading... you’ve been warned! Watch my full review here - https://youtu.be/7YuB4VM0NJA If this book doesn’t get on the Stokers next year it’ll be a travesty - this is award worthy, check it out!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Hail Hydra! ~Dave Anderson~

    I’d like to dedicate this book to anybody who has gone searching for something, someone in the glittering darkness of cyberspace just to feel a little less lonely. Perhaps you found something truly wondrous. Perhaps you didn’t. Regardless, this book belongs to you.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I need to sit with this for a while before I can write anything. If, I ever end up writing anything 👩🏼🤯

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nina The Wandering Reader

    Let me tell you why I think THINGS HAVE GOTTEN WORSE SINCE WE LAST SPOKE is probably the horror novella you need in your mentally disturbed life. For starters, written on the back of the book in bold, uppercase letters are the words: “obsession, sadomasochism, death”. From the jump, the reader is warned about what they are getting into, but when one opens up to the first couple of pages, the reader is eased into a false sense of security with a simple chat room message about an apple peeler. Intr Let me tell you why I think THINGS HAVE GOTTEN WORSE SINCE WE LAST SPOKE is probably the horror novella you need in your mentally disturbed life. For starters, written on the back of the book in bold, uppercase letters are the words: “obsession, sadomasochism, death”. From the jump, the reader is warned about what they are getting into, but when one opens up to the first couple of pages, the reader is eased into a false sense of security with a simple chat room message about an apple peeler. Intrigued yet? This is an epistolary novella told through an exchange of emails and instant messages between two lonely women. What starts out as an intimate friendship between these characters develops into something more. At this point you’re probably thinking: “Nina, nothing you’ve said about this book sounds out of the ordinary or appealing to my horror-loving self.” But you’ll get no more from me on the plot. That’s all I’m going to reveal about this brilliant work of Eric LaRocca. The rest you’ll just have to experience blindly as I did. But I will tell you, this is a story where the pacing has a momentum that picks up and gets rolling like a large boulder you can’t keep from charging down a steep, menacing hill. After a point, the dark and grotesque happenings I was experiencing on the page began to reveal themselves through my facial expressions as I started wincing, cringing, and defiantly shaking my head while screaming “Nope! Nope! Nope!” This novella is for the brave reader who can stomach some pretty disturbing storytelling and triggering themes. I absolutely loved it in spite of my need to sit in front of a blank wall and try to register what I’d just read. I loved it so much, I will probably be recommending it to any sick soul who will listen. If you choose to pick this one up, it’s best read in one sitting. Give yourself an hour, hunker down, and brace yourself for pure dread.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rayne Havok

    This was crazy. Literally. I loved it in the way you love a strange creature- with curiosity and tentativeness, a little excited as it unfolds, but with a nervousness. It had elements that no other story I've read had, and I liked it for it's newness. Really great read. This was crazy. Literally. I loved it in the way you love a strange creature- with curiosity and tentativeness, a little excited as it unfolds, but with a nervousness. It had elements that no other story I've read had, and I liked it for it's newness. Really great read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ben Long

    What have you done today to deserve your eyes? Eric LaRocca has a way with words that I find disturbing, enthralling, and endlessly enjoyable to read. He's easily an auto-buy author for me, and he's just getting started! With this story Eric turns his talents to the epistolary form; a medium that is underutilized, likely because it's so hard to get right. I mean how well can one create complex characters, inspire awe and dread in the reader, and convey a full range of emotions only through written What have you done today to deserve your eyes? Eric LaRocca has a way with words that I find disturbing, enthralling, and endlessly enjoyable to read. He's easily an auto-buy author for me, and he's just getting started! With this story Eric turns his talents to the epistolary form; a medium that is underutilized, likely because it's so hard to get right. I mean how well can one create complex characters, inspire awe and dread in the reader, and convey a full range of emotions only through written correspondences (in this case emails and chat messages)? In this case, the answer is VERY well. Very well indeed. The basic premise is that one character is wanting to sell an antique apple peeler, and the other character is an interested buyer. What follows is a tale of loneliness, codependency, and sadism that starts out innocently enough and turns into something truly horrific by the end. Eric takes his time with the pacing, allowing us to really get to know these characters and be pulled into their web of communication. And the times he shows restraint from graphic details only serve to make the times he doesn't that much more disgusting and alarming. Seriously, there is one scene in particular where I almost put the book down. I loved this story, loved the way it was written, loved these sad characters, and loved the disturbing twists along the way. Highly recommend!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Cassie Daley

    I don't even have words right now, holy shit. Read this book. Go into it with no expectations, just enjoy the ride. Full review eventually once I pick my brain up off the floor. I don't even have words right now, holy shit. Read this book. Go into it with no expectations, just enjoy the ride. Full review eventually once I pick my brain up off the floor.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Janelle Janson

    LOVE LOVE LOVE

  27. 4 out of 5

    Brad

    “What have you done today to deserve your eyes?” Nope. Don’t like it. There are two things that make me physically cringe while reading, one is claustrophobic situations, and the other is eye horror. Anything to do with messing with someone's eyeballs I can’t stand (shivers just thinking about it). That quote is said multiple times throughout THINGS HAVE GOTTEN WORSE SINCE WE LAST SPOKE by Eric LaRocca. So, was there any eye horror to be found here? I am not gonna say, you’ll have to read for you “What have you done today to deserve your eyes?” Nope. Don’t like it. There are two things that make me physically cringe while reading, one is claustrophobic situations, and the other is eye horror. Anything to do with messing with someone's eyeballs I can’t stand (shivers just thinking about it). That quote is said multiple times throughout THINGS HAVE GOTTEN WORSE SINCE WE LAST SPOKE by Eric LaRocca. So, was there any eye horror to be found here? I am not gonna say, you’ll have to read for yourself to find out, but I will say that my imagination ran wild with horrible, horrible scenarios of eye trauma. Now, what I will say about THINGS HAVE GOTTEN WORSE SINCE WE LAST SPOKE is that this is my favorite thing from LaRocca that I have read so far. This is a compulsively addicting read. I burned through this in two sittings (would have been just one sitting but I could no longer hold my eyes open and needed that sweet darkness of sleep). Set in 2000, a time before social media as we now know it, this is a cautionary epistolary tale of back and forth email and chat room correspondence between two strangers on the internet. A word of warning that you never really know who it is that you may be conversing with, who the real person hiding behind that username and blinking cursors may be. From the fictitious author’s note opening the novella we know that there is not going to be a happy ending to be found here. LaRocca tells us the ugly truth of the destination right up front, but this is all about the harrowing journey of getting there. We as the readers get to bear witness to the monstrousness of a controlling, manipulative, toxic relationship. The mental and physical toll that takes not only on the human mind but the body as well. Our characters, Zoe and Anges, quickly form this online relationship, this odd bond that frantically escalates into a dangerous and demented contract between sponsor and drudge. Anges fully submitting herself to the will of Zoe and doing whatever is commanded of her. I've seen some mixed reactions saying that this relationship was unbelievable and I think that's a valid point. Honestly while reading I thought to myself, really, the characters actually agreed to this? Then I sat back, took a moment, and thought to myself why would someone agree to give over control of their lives to a complete and total stranger whom they have never even met? Well, maybe they are mentally unstable? Maybe their desire for love and affection (albeit a sick and twisted kind of love) is so strong they would do anything, and I mean anything, to hold onto the slightest semblance of it? Who really knows why people do the things they do. For me I find the idea of love at first sight to be unbelievable, but it does happen. So, even though this relationship seems to be unbelievable that doesn't mean it couldn't happen to someone out there, right? With some suspension of disbelief on my part I didn't focus on what I thought was believable or not and allowed the story to take me along for the ride. This probably isn't the best analogy but let’s roll with it. To me LaRocca’s prose can be compared to a Venus flytrap, deceptively deadly. Luring readers into a false sense of security with flowing poetic language only for the darkness to suddenly and unexpectedly snap it’s jaws shut around you. The juxtaposition of beautifully intricate prose describing horribly heinous acts is something I have come to expect from a LaRocca story. I loved this ending. LaRocca tells the reader the what of the ending from the very beginning, but he doesn't explain the how. And even here at the end LaRocca doesn't lay it all out for you, he allows your imagination to wander where it pleases. There are enough subtle hints and suggestions to allude as to what occurs at the end but it's left open to the reader's interpretation and of course my mind went directly to that quote at the beginning of this review. THINGS HAVE GOTTEN WORSE SINCE WE LAST SPOKE by Eric LaRocca is a dark tale of loneliness, obsession, fear, control, and desperation. How manipulation can be utilized as a dangerous weapon. Taking advantage of another’s own hopes, dreams, and desires by twisting and tainting them with one’s own sick perversions. Hopefully finally finishing writing up this review is enough for me to deserve my eyes, at least for today. Video review: Coming soon.

  28. 4 out of 5

    marta the book slayer

    I never want to read this again. . part of race against time challenge (aka read all 2021 releases before the year ends.) I never want to read this again. . part of race against time challenge (aka read all 2021 releases before the year ends.)

  29. 4 out of 5

    Philip Fracassi

    This is a powerful little book. An epistolary tale about two women each seeking comfort in different ways, and the disturbing lengths they'll each go to in trying to achieve it. This is not a book for the squeamish, but what makes it truly frightening is how believable it all really is. Also, I'll never look at an apple peeler the same way again. Recommended for readers with strong stomachs, or--more seriously--for something completely original, which is rare these days. This is a powerful little book. An epistolary tale about two women each seeking comfort in different ways, and the disturbing lengths they'll each go to in trying to achieve it. This is not a book for the squeamish, but what makes it truly frightening is how believable it all really is. Also, I'll never look at an apple peeler the same way again. Recommended for readers with strong stomachs, or--more seriously--for something completely original, which is rare these days.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lezlie with The Nerdy Narrative

    I cannot give this one a rating. I do not know one single reader I could in good conscience recommend this to. This story is presented in email/Instant Messenger format between the two main characters and is set in the 2000s. I didn't have a problem with the format, but where I first experienced a disconnect is the emails were written eloquently and beautiful - which distinguishes it as Eric LaRocca's work because his prose is some of the most beautiful we have out here. The problem is - these em I cannot give this one a rating. I do not know one single reader I could in good conscience recommend this to. This story is presented in email/Instant Messenger format between the two main characters and is set in the 2000s. I didn't have a problem with the format, but where I first experienced a disconnect is the emails were written eloquently and beautiful - which distinguishes it as Eric LaRocca's work because his prose is some of the most beautiful we have out here. The problem is - these emails are written in Eric's gorgeous writing style - completely unrealistic for these characters. Of the millions of emails I've read, those I myself have written - not a single one ever remotely came close to sounding like these emails. This story is about how one girl lists an antique item for sale in order to pay her rent. Another girl responds and a rapport is struck between the two over commonalities. Very quickly, WAY too quickly, a relationship is agreed to and it leads to one being dominant and controlling over the other and came to a very unbelievable and outlandish ending. The relationship between the main characters - while I do understand this situations happen, this one happened instantaneously which made it unbelievable. There is no way I will exchange 4-5 emails with a stranger and one I've never met (especially in the 2000s) would I ever do the ridiculous and later disgusting things Agnes did. If the relationship had actually been developed further over time, it could have been achieved better, in my opinion. For 75 pages, I kept wondering to myself why in the world this was classified as horror. Then we get to a section where Agnes is telling Zoe about a teenager murdering his baby brother, that he had dubbed Little Christ. Okay, that was enough info right there - the graphic description how this scene played out was more than I was comfortable with. Then we get to the deal with the baby and that was absolutely bonkers. I couldn't get behind anything in this novella - I thought the characters were unbelievable, the relationship would never have happened in this circumstance and time frame, the things the character did and the reasoning - I would never in a million years believe any of it. I mean, I know it's fiction - but to me, good horror is good and scary because it could be REAL.

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