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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?

120 pages, Kindle Edition

First published June 1, 2021

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About the author

Eric LaRocca

45 books2,173 followers
Eric LaRocca (he/they) is the Bram Stoker Award-nominated and Splatterpunk Award-winning author of the viral sensation Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke. A lover of luxury fashion and an admirer of European musical theatre, Eric can often be found roaming the streets of his home city, Boston, MA, for inspiration. For more information, please visit ericlarocca.com.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 12,559 reviews
Profile Image for Jack Edwards.
Author 1 book205k followers
October 19, 2021
I don't often use the terms 'disgusting', 'depraved', 'shocking', and 'twisted' in a positive way, but holy hell this book was horrifying in exactly the way it set out to be. It's sadomasochistic, frenzied, and WILD.

My main warning is that once you start reading you won't be able to stop, so make sure you've got the time on the day you open this up!
Profile Image for Jules.
19 reviews23 followers
January 17, 2023
literally there are no words for this. men stop writing trauma p0rn about lesbians. please. i’m begging you.
Profile Image for Kat.
270 reviews80k followers
June 14, 2022
I don't know what I thought this was gonna be, but it certainly wasn't THAT
Profile Image for Larry.
76 reviews8,739 followers
October 24, 2021
No thank you. Don’t care for the storyline, Kat says “I’m too wholesome” to handle it, and she’s correct.
Profile Image for Steph.
576 reviews300 followers
January 18, 2022
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.

Profile Image for s.penkevich.
969 reviews6,872 followers
September 22, 2023
This is underwhelming mostly because it is such a promising idea and story that just fumbles its own execution in almost every way. It feels so eager to get to the shock moments that it loses focus and comes across as simultaneously rushed and bogged down like a person having fallen walking on ice trying too quickly to get back up and falling down again over and over. Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke has a great idea around it, being an epistolary short story (you can read the whole thing in 10 minutes) emails and AIM messages from a 2000s master/slave online relationship that goes horribly wrong (the opening paragraph framing the book as court-ordered recovered documents informs you someone has died). Unfortunately, the story never rises beyond torture porn for the sake of seeming edgy while missing every opportunity along the way to make any statements about society or the conditions that lead to situations like this in order to justify telling this story.

Overall, this feels like mostly fluff and the shock values (which tend to be more animal cruelty stories than anything else and very little sexuality unless you consider the line ‘if I were a black hole, I’d swallow you and shit you out in tiny pieces’ to be sexy) are sort of run-of-the-mill to be honest and feels like Carmen Maria Machado-lite. The pregnancy body-horror story in Cursed Bunny feels like a more effective story as that one really dives into how--beyond the shock horror--the real horror is the patriarchial society the story figures into. This could have been an opportunity to look at power dynamics and financial class, but other than Agnes needing rent money provided by the Zoe and that it is clear she is vulnerable for many different compounded societal reasons, the story bypasses any commentary.

Instead it spends far too much time on the set-up, a weirdly overdramatic series of emails about purchasing an antique apple peeler. While it needs to establish the communication between the two women, each email feels like its trying to pass through an MFA workshop and just...feels false. There is little to no difference between the voices of either character either. It also takes up way too much time and the story really slowly gets to where it's going despite the small page count. It ends far too soon, shoehorning a pregnancy desire into the plot awkwardly and then basically finishing the story where it was finally just beginning. There's a story about the movie Dog Day Afternoon where after Pacino delivers his hugely emotional monolouge in which Pacino exhausted himself, Sidney Lumet told him to shoot it again. He wanted the emotion that comes after emotionally exhausted, which is what this story would have benefitted from. It likely would benefit from being more fleshed out though at the same time so much of the story meanders and is overwrought and filler to make the structure work. It just could have used the style more productively.

All in all, it's not bad despite all the above. Had this been one of a dozen in a collection it would have seemed just alright but put out on its own with the AMAZING cover (art by Kim Jakobsson), it makes you want more. And it just does not deliver.
Profile Image for Alexandra.
69 reviews20 followers
June 21, 2021
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.
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,307 reviews28k followers
July 29, 2021
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
Profile Image for emma.
1,871 reviews54.8k followers
November 10, 2021
I wish I could tell you this book lives up to its cover.

I wish I could tell you that I was struck by that image, and then I couldn't stop thinking about it until I read it, and then I continued to not be able to stop thinking about it because the work itself was also good.

I wish the words behind that picture had the same skin-crawling creepiness, the same deftness of skill, the same unforgettable quality.

It doesn't. The book itself, to me, was just fine.

But holy god that cover.

Bottom line: I also wish I could say this will teach me to judge books by their covers, but it won't! I will never learn! That's the Emma guarantee!
Profile Image for ririririri.
27 reviews2 followers
May 16, 2023
reads like a middle schooler trying their absolute hardest to be edgy and spook their classmates.
I'm glad its so short because goddamn did I not want to have to endure another second of this pos.
characters have no depth and are exactly the same as one another, which is so painful to read through emails. literally just sounds like the same person talking to them self for 60 pages. which would honestly be more realistic than falling for someone after like what, 4 emails?
stop writing [bad] trauma porn about lesbians xoxo
Profile Image for Plagued by Visions.
200 reviews571 followers
August 6, 2021
Queer misery porn with nothing particularly important or momentous to say. Reads very fast and was kind of entertaining. Also, this is pretty much a blatant rip-off of The Sluts by Dennis Cooper.

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.
Profile Image for Danielle.
16 reviews2 followers
November 21, 2021
This book's characters were so ridiculously unrealistic that I couldn't take the book seriously.

The way the characters wrote in their emails was laughably pretentious and nothing like how people actually email. At least the instant messenger conversations were a bit more realistic. The jump from them being strangers to being close enough to one of them giving the other a "task" just didn't make sense. They didn't even really seem like queer female characters, just images that the author constructed with little depth, understanding, or consideration.

I'm going to be honest, this just comes off as trauma lesbian porn from an author who a) isn't a lesbian and clearly can't even imagine what it's like to be one, and b) didn't even bother to create realistic characters. I love the idea of queer horror and queer people behaving in monstrous ways - we don't always have to be saints in literature - but I don't like the idea of queer women (I am one) being portrayed in such shallow and exploitative ways.

The gory scenes are visceral and are the best parts of the book, in my opinion. But the rest of it was just too ridiculous and shallow to take seriously.

EDIT: The author goes by he/they pronouns so I have edited my review to reflect this. I still believe that this book is lesbian trauma porn and badly written, but I don't want to misgender the author as that's not right to do. One thing I'd like to note though: just because the author isn't a cis man doesn't mean that they're a lesbian and it doesn't disqualify them from criticism when they write lesbian characters poorly.
Profile Image for Char.
1,682 reviews1,557 followers
June 23, 2021
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!
Profile Image for Sadie Hartmann.
Author 21 books4,873 followers
June 9, 2021
Review originally published at LitReactor:

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.

Profile Image for Tim.
477 reviews663 followers
July 11, 2021
"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?"
Profile Image for aly ☆彡 (hiatus).
346 reviews1,176 followers
February 26, 2023
Frankly, I do enjoy a piece of this book and I am undeniably disturbed; but it still didn't miss that:

1. It was simply horrible
2. Feels unrealistic and amateur
3. Non-distinctive characters. I feel like reading a one-person POV.
4. No build-up. Things escalated too quickly.
5. Now when you have all of the above, you'll come to not care about the story as a whole

Although the hidden message was clear and set forth, I don't think it’s the author’s place to write or represent this think piece
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,219 reviews9,927 followers
October 11, 2021
First, great title. I thought …. Mmmm, how much worse, dear? Tell me.

Second, great cover. That smooshed-in blurt of a head…. Perfect. Round of applause to Kim Jakobsson.

Third, format. Well, this is a teensy novelette, you can read it in like minus ten minutes. It’s in epistolatory form, emails and instant messaging transcripts (it’s the year 2000). So it’s just like Pamela by Samuel what’s his name written in 1730 or thereabouts. That’s like 2000 pages and all in letters. In those days they wrote with quill pens made out of ducks and probably used ducks blood for ink, I don’t know, I’m no expert, don’t quote me. Only probably, I haven’t read Pamela and there is no possible way I will ever read Pamela, I would say it’s unlikely that Pamela was ever forced to bash a salamander to death. This is a guess, for all I know Pamela is beating on salamanders on every other page.

Fourth, plot. This is all about a slave/mistress relationship and I got to say that the main plot development took a lot of swallowing, which if you have read this already, you will know what I mean.

Fifth, level of gruesomeness/horror/disturbingness. The author in their note at the end says they wrote this in

A nightmarish fever dream of inspiration, an arduous ordeal of painstaking creativity.. I quite literally pushed myself to dangerous areas of my mind during those five days of creative Armageddon.

No disrespect to Eric LaRocca but maybe they doesn’t get out much. There are some verrrry gruesome books and stories out there, not to mention movies. This was like a 3.5 on a scale of 1 to 10. It was a trifle nauseating in places, and I most people shouldn’t read this while eating lunch. But people, you shouldn’t read and eat anyway. You might get stuff on your book.

Sixth, rating. I think if Eric had pushed the creative Armageddon into a second week and doubled the number of grisly events, each getting nastier, this could have been a solid three. It ended where it should have kept going. I know, Mr Unreasonable. That’s me.
Profile Image for Michelle .
914 reviews1,412 followers
June 13, 2022
Something you ought to know about me: when I read a review for a book and the first sentence of nearly every single one of them is "What the fuck did I just read?" my mind gets increasingly more curious until I can finally get my greedy hands on a copy for myself.

And what the fuck, indeed.

"What have you done today to deserve your eyes?"

Disturbing, hair raising, chill inducing, stomach churning. The correspondence between Agnes and Zoe are not for the faint of heart, weak stomached, or delicate constitutions. Who knew that a story about selling a vintage apple peeler would manifest into such madness? *Shivers*

My copy of this novella included two more short stories along with Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke - those are, The Enchantment and You'll Find It's Like This All Over. While these two did not pack quite the same punch as THGWSWLS (I could at least snack while reading the latter two) they are equally compelling in their own right and I raced through them.

One things for certain, I will be keeping my eye on Eric Larocca but whether it be out of fear or admiration we'll never know. 😉 4 stars!

Thank you to Edewleiss and Titan Books for my complimentary copy.
168 reviews10 followers
August 11, 2021
This was probably one of the dumbest books i have ever had the chance to read. I was very eager to try this book and really thought it would be a favorite or at the very least, entertaining. Unfortunately, it was neither and maybe that's why I wanted to rant about it.

First of all, i thought the concept of the police report/true crime setting was nice but there was literally no point to it. It was merely mentioned in the (fake) author's introduction, only to be able to tell the story in an epilostary fashion i guess (which added nothing in the end).

The second thing that struck me was the writing and how unrealistic it was. It's the 2000s. Both girls seem to be in their 20s. ...So, why do they exchange long poetic paragraphs on what is basically MSN messenger ? (Also, take a shot every time the word "smear" is used). Overall, the writing felt really cringy and forced. (Also, loved the way the author used purple prose and then a second later, one of the characters actually says something about being a black hole and shitting the other girl...)

Now, let's take a few minutes to talk about the plot because if I had to read that, there is no way other people don't get to hear about it too.

Zoe and Agnes (not sure about the spelling) first talk to each other because Agnes wants to sell an apple peeler on a queer internet forum. (Let that sink in for a moment.) Then the girls start chatting about it, Agnes telling Zoe how it is a very personal object, and that it was actually used by Charles Ives (a real-life composer) during a fucking family picnic. At first, you might think "they're just having fun, them being silly just for the sake of it, maybe to flirt or something". But NO, THEY'RE NOT. Agnes is actually serious and begins, in what feels like a fever dream, to tell Zoe her life story. (By the way, Agnes wants to sell the fucking apple peeler for 250$, WITHOUT BEING SURE THAT THIS STUFF HAS BEEN, IN FACT, TOUCHED BY THAT COMPOSER GUY). Zoe then decides to send Agnes money so she can pay her rent (Zoe is loaded, or so it seems. How, you would ask ? Does she have a good job ? Is her family rich ? Does she have a sugar daddy ? No one knows. It's not mentioned, so here goes nothing). Any functioning adult would be like, "well that's weird and embarassing, there is no way that this shit isn't sketchy !". But not Agnes, because Agnes is a dumb bitch.

So a friendship from out of nowhere takes shape between the two girls, and of course they become infatuated with each other, which is fine. Zoe quickly explains to Agnes that she wants a top/bottom relationship (or "sponsor/drudge", as Zoe would say. I have never heard this before in my life btw). Since Agnes has the backbone of a slug, she accepts, seemingly without really knowing what it entails (Agnes's relationship with her parents is severed since she told them that she was gay, so apparently she's looking for a replacement, i.e. a mommy kink). The BDSM aspect was kinda weird, to say the least. There was a scene where Agnes was late to one online meeting so Zoe had to punish her. She asked Agnes to stop breathing for a minute. Since they were communicating by messages, there was like no way to check that Agnes was actually doing it. That was embarassing. In another scene, Zoe asked Agnes to catch a wild salamander in a park (like, how quick do you have to be,i mean what kind of order is this..), to keep it in her pocket and at the end of the day crush it with a stone. Because that's supposed to be a profound metaphor about life and self-transformation, and not like, who knows, maybe a MASSIVE RED FLAG. Agnes says no at first, but then she's like "yes mommy" and apparently does it. Afterwards, she feels remorseful and kinda breaks up with Zoe since, when you think about it, it might be unhealthy when you listen to a LITERAL STRANGER and kill a LIVING HARMLESS ANIMAL.

Ifyou've read all of this, you might think "ok, that's a bit weird and cringy, but I've read worse". Bear in mind that that book is a little over 2 hours-long, that it is pretty short and that I've told you only half of what happened yet.

Anyway, Agnes comes back to Zoe, because she's a simp and an idiot (there is no other explanation) and they start all over with the baby/mommy stuff. Agnes then tells Zoe that her wildest dream is to have a kid (where does this come from ? We don't really know either. The novella is visibly too short to have character studies), which is technically also fine with me. But Agnes wants a baby from Zoe. Here come the downward spiral for the fucking plot, because Zoe suggests Agnes to impregnate herself with a tape worm.

(I literally shit you not when I tell you that I almost stopped my audiobook right there. I don't know what granted me the will to finish it, it certainly was not God because I am definitely sure (s)he does not exist after having inflicted this to myself.)

Zoe proceeds to explain that Agnes needs to buy a steak, let it out on the sun so it rots, and then finally eat it raw, full of worms so she can finally be "pregnant". As predicted, Agnes obeys, and I gagged. Via email, she describes how it went and how she wants to keep the "baby" inside her forever. When Zoe informs her that it is not humanly possible, Agnes starts going through the 5 stages of grief over a tapeworm and loses even more rapidly her sanity. Zoe, realising she probably is going to spend a lot of time doing underpaid slave labor in her local state jail, decides to backtrack and advises Agnes to get to an hospital as soon as possible, so as not to die, but also to see any available psychiatrist. She then demands that Agnes stop contacting her and says that she never really loved her that much, because she is a real queen at gaslighting.
In the end, Agnes sends her last emails to which Zoe never responds, depicting how she "gave birth" to their "son" and that "he" has Zoe's eyes.

I literally have no words to describe the state I am right in now. I do not know if this book is supposed to be a weird metaphor for something, let's just say that i feel emotionally and physicially wrecked after having had to digest this novella.

I am but regrets.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for daph pink ♡ .
948 reviews2,716 followers
October 16, 2021
That nightmarishly beautiful cover gives me the chills, and the 3.2 average rating doesn't bother me.

Half nonsense, half spooky, well, it escalated quickly and was basic, nothing out of the ordinary or particularly creepy. I love reading body horror and gore, therefore I found it entertaining in some parts...
Profile Image for Elle (taylor's version).
262 reviews8 followers
October 24, 2021
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 a lot of extreme horror and I loved the premise of this book when I saw it, but unfortunately by the end I found it to be lacklustre and boring. Extreme horror and Splatterpunk is about more than lazy shock horror and yet that is all that is delivered here.

My main complaint is actually about the premise: it doesn't work in this format. The concept has a lot of potential but there's no room for the story to develop in such a small space. We have two emotionally stunted main characters with no development and a surface level representation of homosexuality that falls dangerously close to the cheap horror trope of "they're gay, so there must have been something wrong with them as children," while bordering on exploiting long-dangerous views of female hysteria. It's safe to say this is something that I would expect to come across in a piece of work written decades ago, not in 2021 with such thoughtlessness.

Kink is also portrayed terribly. I didn't think that actual adults would need to be reminded that engaging in BDSM/sadomasochism/dom-sub relationships does not equate to ill mental health, but apparently some reviewers do need that reminder. I'm going to assume that this wasn't the impression LaRocca intended to leave but there is an uncomfortable insinuation that this relationship is the catalyst for the crazy. There is no mention, not even briefly, of a safe word, of prior experience or understanding of their individual expectations, no discussion about boundaries or limits... it just jumps from 0 to 100 within a handful of sentences.

The ending was underwhelming and despite the book being marketed almost entirely around the phrase "what did you do today to deserve your eyes," it could have been removed from the story entirely and it wouldn't have made a shred of difference overall.

There's lots of untapped potential in this book and had more creative attention been paid to it then it could have been quite unique, but instead it reads more as a few lazily written plot scribblings with enough gross moments to disguise the fact that there is no substance.
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