Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke

Weirdpunk. Jun. 2021. 120p. ISBN 9781951658120. pap. $11.51. HORROR
It’s May of 2000, and Agnes, a lonely young woman in need of funds, lists a family heirloom for sale on a queer message board. Zoe expresses interest and appreciation for the item’s backstory. In the kind of exchange that might be familiar and perhaps even nostalgic to readers, Agnes and Zoe proceed to converse with the lack of restraint encouraged by a digital barrier. But rather quickly—check the timestamps—this innocuous exchange escalates into a macabre affair, fueled by a toxic cocktail of the desire to control and the need to submit. Readers are privy to the interior life of each woman only through what they can glean from their emails and instant messages. LaRocca’s (Starving Ghosts in Every Thread) combination of structure, adept pacing, and masterful language is more complex than meets the eye. As tension mounts, and Agnes and Zoe’s relationship turns from banal banter to desperate intimacies, the assumed inevitability turns out to be nothing that anyone could have imagined—it’s as horrific as is it impossible to look away from.
VERDICT A must-read for fans of body horror, epistolary novels, and depravity, this pulse-pounding novella is one that readers will surely devour in one sitting.
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