This Thing Between Us: Gus Moreno
Reviewed By Steve Stred
I think I might need to start keeping a spreadsheet or something similar for all the books Tony Jones has suggested to me that I’ve read and were home runs. The most recent suggestion was ‘The Book of Baku’ by R.L. Boyle. In that book, a young boy goes to live with his grandfather following a significant loss. We learn about his life and the events that have led up to the present day and the darkness that seems to be seeping into his world.
In ‘This Thing Between Us,’ Gus Moreno follows a slightly similar-ish idea. We follow Thiago after the untimely passing of his wife. He struggles to comprehend the ‘why’ of her passing and how he’s supposed to go on in the world, a world that was filled with her. She was his everything.
The opening first act of this book is itself stunning. Back in 2009, Disney released a movie called ‘UP!’ The first ten minutes or so are not only some of the best moments ever put to film (the whole movie is great) animated or live-action, but if that section broke you, expect the same with this.
What I liked: Following the opening act of the book, where we learn about how Thiago and Vera met, fell in love and moved into their condo, we also get details about weird happenings within the condo itself and how things seemed to escalate up until Vera died.
Moreno does a superb job of mildly sprinkling these odd moments into the story, focusing more on how the two completed each other. But as things pick up and we learn more and more details, it was refreshing to see concrete examples of otherworldly occurrences. I say that in direct contrast to Gran’s ‘Come Closer’ which is definitely an influence on this book. Whereas Gran’s gives us a story and it’s up to the reader to determine if something is happening, Moreno gives us tangible events, which made me really happy to see.
The book then shifts to a remote cabin in Colorado, where Thiago moves to try and escape everything that was happening back in the condo, only for things to really escalate. I thought this was great and while we knew that anyone brought into the story, even in the periphery would be subjected to events, Morena makes sure to really ramp it up and keep you guessing.
The ending will very much split peoples opinions on what happens. After reading it and finishing, I had a few theories and even went online to Google and see what others thought. It’s always great to see a lot of discussion on things like this and it reminded me a lot of the ambiguity found in Andrew Pyper’s ‘The Demonologist.’
What I didn’t like: Animal lovers may not be too excited with some of the events in Colorado, so head’s up on that. It works well and brings some people into the fold but it was really visceral and unexpected.
As well, I liked the ending, but I’ll need to mull it over and maybe even reread the last little bit again to really make up my mind!
Why you should buy this: This book is engaging, gripping and a page-turner in the truest sense. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and I think that speaks to the strength of Moreno really crafting a solid love story that makes you want to see what happens. The acknowledgements discuss a little bit of the basis of this book and that really elevated some of the emotional aspects even more.
This is a book that paranormal/odd occurrence fans will eat up and devour. From start to finish I was hooked and once again I’m in debt to Tony Jones for suggesting such an outstanding book.
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.
Steve Stred is the Splatterpunk Nominated Author of ‘Sacrament’ and ‘Mastodon.’
Based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Steve has released over a dozen novels and novellas as well as a number of collections. He has appeared alongside some of horror’s biggest names within some truly excellent anthologies.
He is a proud co-founder of the LOHF Writer’s Grant and an Active Member of the HWA.