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September 15, 2022

Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke by Eric LaRocca ~ a Review

by MK French


This volume contains three psychological horror stories by Eric LaRocca, and the title novella was nominated for the Bram Stoker award. The tag line compares him to Clive Barker, Stephen Graham Jones and CaitlĂ­n R. Kiernan. While there can be allusions to bloody events, the biggest issue as with any good psychological horror stories is the connection with others and the soft slide deeper into the darkness of a human soul.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of horror anthology Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke by Eric LaRocca
September 2022; Titan Books; 978-1803361499
ebook, print (288 pages); horror

In "Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke," what started as a conversation between two lonely women in 2000 soon leads to obsession and the desperate desire for connection. It's presented as a true crime story, with emails and chat transcripts. We see the rapid transformation as Agnes and Zoe circle each other, and Agnes becomes willing to do whatever Zoe suggests. She abdicates all responsibility in her own life, and we know it doesn't go well at all. The end is implied, and we can only imagine how horrible it is. If anything, that's infinitely worse than describing things on the page.

The other half of the book is "The Enchantment" and "You'll Find It's Like That All Over." Religion, loss, and isolation star in the first of these two stories, which feels as intense as the first novella. It's likely shorter in length due to the chat nature of the title story, but the description and the emotions are still present. We see it more directly as James and Olive circle each other, as her beliefs are challenged and she retreats further into them. It didn't end the way I expected, and the final story didn't once progress in a way I expected. How far would social niceties push someone into fulfilling challenges put forth by a neighbor, even if money was on the line? This horror is the helplessness of it, the lack of control, and the realization that nothing the individual does will make any kind of difference. That chilling feeling lingers, as it does in all good horror stories.



Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.



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