Audiobook Review: What Lies Between Us by John Marrs
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 4.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Thriller, Suspense
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Brilliance Audio (May 15, 2020)
Length: 11 hrs and 27 mins
Narrator: Elizabeth Knowelden
Whoo boy, describing the mother-daughter relationship in this story as “dysfunctional” is an understatement. You might think you have issues with your family, but wait until you read about Maggie and Nina. What Lies Between Us is the kind of book that makes you wonder what kind of secrets people around you might be hiding behind their seemingly average lives and the perfectly normal facades of their everyday jobs and everyday homes.
Every evening, Nina comes home from work to the house that she and her mother Maggie share. Every other night, she also fixes dinner for them, where she’ll cook something she knows her mother will despise, but Maggie that will compliment like nothing is amiss. After they finish eating, Nina would escort Maggie back up the stairs to the attic, where the older woman stays locked up the rest of the time, making sure that her mother’s shackles are reattached firmly to the heavy chains bolted to the wall. Then they’ll say goodnight, before Maggie is once more abandoned to her lonely imprisonment until the next time she is called down for a meal. This is her existence now, ever since her daughter discovered the terrible things Maggie has done, and this is her punishment.
What Nina doesn’t understand, however, is that whatever she thinks her mother did to her, Maggie is insistent that they were all done for her out of love. But it is probably a good thing Nina doesn’t know everything, because there are even more secrets in Maggie’s past that her daughter hasn’t managed to figure out—yet. If she ever does, Maggie is certain that Nina will come to realize why those actions had to be taken, but she is also terrified to consider what her daughter might do to her then. Nina already believes Maggie has done the unforgiveable, hence the conditions of her imprisonment and cruel treatment. But learning the whole truth might just set Nina off for real, sending her to a place where neither of them can return from.
I vowed after reading The Passengers that I would check out more by John Marrs, which was what led me to What Lies Between Us, even though it sounded like a very different kind of story. Still, I was glad I read it, because even among thrillers, this one was pretty insane. Told from Nina and Maggie’s points of view via two main timelines, the present and the past, the sick and twisted details of this complicated relationship between the novel’s two leading women are gradually revealed to us in all their glory.
Anyway, I debated long and hard about whether or not I should talk about some of these in my review, just surface-level details about the plot that won’t lead to any spoilers, before deciding not to risk even that. The shenanigans these characters get up to are simply too crazy and delicious to reveal! That said, I will say that despite some of its more over-the-top themes, the story does make a few rather introspective and poignant observations about the nature of parenthood. As parents, no one knows our children better than we do, what their strengths and weaknesses are. All we want is the best for them, try to guide them in the right direction and pray we don’t end up screwing their lives up too much. And basically, what this book does is take these ideas and throw them off the deep end.
Bottom line, I had an extraordinarily fun time reading What Lies Between Us, even with its contemptible characters, warped ideas and all. I certainly wouldn’t expect anyone to find either Maggie or Nina likeable, because ultimately they’re both horrible people. Hands down, though, the best part was letting the novel gradually tease out the complexities of their pasts and reveal their awful secrets. The ending was unsettling, but I would have expected nothing less after the intense journey it took us on. If you want a gripping thriller where you’ll practically sweat and shiver from the suspense, you’ll definitely want to check this one out for yourself.
Audiobook Comments: Absolutely brilliant narration by Elizabeth Knowelden. Normally I would I prefer more than one reader for multi-POV books, but she did such an incredible job reading both Nina and Maggie’s parts that I would have thought they were voiced by different narrators. Varying her accents and tones, she gave each character a uniqueness and individuality that went beyond the text, and I couldn’t have been more impressed with her performance.