“What have you done today to deserve your eyes?” (LaRocca 32).
CW: Animal abuse, body horror
This book has been everywhere on my TikTok For You Page so I was ecstatic when I managed to get a hold of a copy. It’s no secret that I love horror, especially fucked up books and with the reviews I’d been reading I knew this novella was one I needed to read.
Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke story is told through the emails and Instant Messenger correspondence between Agnes and Zoe, two queer woman discovering internet chatrooms and websites in the year 2000 when the internet was still a new, strange, and at times dangerous place. The story begins with Agnes putting out a listing on a queer website to sell a family heirloom, an apple peeler. Zoe responds inquiring to buy it and the two find themselves talking as things between them escalate from there.
For such a short novella the characters are surprisingly fleshed out. Agnes and Zoe are two completely different characters and it’s interesting to read their emails and chats to one another, to recognize their voices and see their relationship with each other develop. I have only the vaguest memories of the internet from the early 2000s (I didn’t have a home computer until 2008) but I forget how different it was then, how even though the internet was a new and exciting thing it was scary and I was always warned by parents and teachers about the dangers of it and LaRocca’s novella perfectly shows that dangers of being online, of not knowing who you’ll connect with and the mystery of the stranger typing on the other end.
I wish I could say more but at just over a hundred pages I’m already at risk of spoiling the story. It’s so incredibly dark and very well-written, casually luring readers in before they realize they’re submerged in the horror. This book is incredibly sick in a number of instances, a true psychological horror, like a car crash no matter how badly you want to take a break from the story for a moment you can’t look away, completely absorbed as Agnes and Zoe’s story unfolds. My one criticism would be that things between Agnes and Zoe move incredibly quickly, quicker than is really realistic (yes yes I know about the UHaul lesbian jokes but if you read this story you’ll learn that that REALLY doesn’t apply to them). I would have liked to see more conversations with Agnes and Zoe before things started getting freaky, but I’m also willing to forgive it because this is a novella. Maybe if LaRocca had decided to turn this into a full length novel there’d be more time but as it is, I understand the quickness even if I didn’t like it.
Overall Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke is an amazing horror novella that packs a punch and is unforgettable. I would caution to read this on an empty stomach and be ready for some gore, this is not a book to read while you’re snacking.
Publication: June 1st 2021
Publisher: Weirdpunk Books
Pages: 104 pages (eBook/PDF)
Genre: Fiction, Horror, Novella
My Rating: ⛤⛤⛤⛤
“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?”