Welcome to my post! Today I’m actually writing a review, staple of book blogs but generally neglected from mine. I always share my opinion of books in wrap ups, but I haven’t made a separate post reviewing a book since March 2021 when I talked about Gods of Jade and Shadow. I’m shocked by how long ago that was and a little ashamed it’s taking me so long to post another, mostly because of how intimidated I feel sitting down to write an entire post about my feelings on one book. I’m determined to overcome the fear and start off nice and easy by talking about my (spoiler) first 5 star read of the year: This Thing Between Us! Let’s get on with the review.
This Thing Between Us
It was Vera’s idea to buy the Itza. The “world’s most advanced smart speaker!” didn’t interest Thiago, but Vera thought it would be a bit of fun for them amidst all the strange occurrences happening in the condo. It made things worse. The cold spots and scratching in the walls were weird enough, but peculiar packages started showing up at the house—who ordered industrial lye? Then there was the eerie music at odd hours, Thiago waking up to Itza projecting light shows in an empty room.
It was funny and strange right up until Vera was killed, and Thiago’s world became unbearable. Pundits and politicians all looking to turn his wife’s death into a symbol for their own agendas. A barrage of texts from her well-meaning friends about letting go and moving on. Waking to the sound of Itza talking softly to someone in the living room…
The only thing left to do was get far away from Chicago. Away from everything and everyone. A secluded cabin in Colorado seemed like the perfect place to hole up with his crushing grief. But soon Thiago realizes there is no escape—not from his guilt, not from his simmering rage, and not from the evil hunting him, feeding on his grief, determined to make its way into this world.
A bold, original horror novel about grief, loneliness and the oppressive intimacy of technology, This Thing Between Us marks the arrival of a spectacular new talent.
Essentially, This Thing Between Us follows Thiago, a grief-stricken man whose wife Vera recently died. The book is written as Thiago talking directly to Vera, and we constantly flip between a present narrative and him reminiscing on their life together and what ultimately caused it to end. The synopsis is a little misleading because it’s not really centred around the ‘Itza’ they buy, but it’s a slow build up until everything gets crazy and the book completely transforms. I would just be aware going into it that this is a book primarily about grief and secondary about everything else.
This emphasis on grief is what made the book great for me. Moreno weaves it into Thiago’s character perfectly, as well as it being a basis for the entire plot. There were some gut-wrenching lines and I’m glad that I knew what I was getting into before reading, because Thiago’s perspective can be suffocating at points in his mourning. The book is fairly short at 250 pages, but it’s only split up into 4 sections and it almost reads like a stream of consciousness, if it weren’t for the switching between timelines. This also allows for a central plot, albeit slow, while always centring Thiago’s loss, which eventually converges together in what I think is a devastating yet brilliant finale.
It’s not all completely gloomy though, and we do get some light and even heart-warming moments, mostly in the reminiscing. I really enjoyed the writing style and narrative voice, with Thiago’s dry humour and sort of nihilistic outlook, offset by other characters like Vera’s mum. There is a lot of depth and meaning to the book but Thiago also embraces how meaningless and illogical some things can be, especially in the context of death and loss. The first sentence of the book just about sums up the absurdity of it all: “Your parents wouldn’t let me bury you in a tree pod“.
A big theme in the book was identity. The main characters are Mexican-American but Thiago and Vera have different upbringings which is reflected in discussions of belonging and feeling like an outsider to your own culture. Mexican culture was incorporated into the story, with different beliefs and some Spanish included. Moreno also touches on immigration and prejudice from the media, mostly in passing and indirectly, but still impactful.
In terms of the horror element, it starts off a little eerie yet almost laughable with these weird occurrences, but eventually become a lot more sinister. At one point, there is a shift and the horror mutates into more of a cosmic threat. I know this is where it lost some people, but I think it made sense for the story and I generally like the weird, unexplainable horror. It didn’t exactly scare me, but it was very unsettling and for most of the last half I was on the edge of my seat anticipating what might happen next. One thing to point out is there is quite a bit of gore, and definitely check the trigger warnings below because there is a dog on the cover for a reason– not the worst part, but could be a instant turn-off for a lot of people.
This Thing Between Us is a quick yet hypnotising read, just like the gorgeous cover (seriously, I’m obsessed with it). It packs a brutal punch in those short pages, which left me wounded from the unfairness of it all. The story itself is gripping and starts unfolding slowly but then all at once. I can confidently say this is one of my favourite horror books that I’ve read so far.
Thanks for reading! What are your thoughts on the book, or if you haven’t read it do you think it sounds like something you would enjoy or not?