Saturday, 8 August 2020

Two Can Keep a Secret by: Karen M. McManus

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Published: January 8, 2019 by: Delacorte Press
Pages: 329
Rating: 4/5 stars
Content warnings: murder, kidnapping, predatory behaviour

When Ellery and her twin brother Ezra are forced to move into the sleepy town of Echo-Ridge, Ellery is less than enthused. However, she is a murder mystery enthusiast, and she takes this opportunity to investigate the mysterious disappearance of her aunt who lived in Echo Ridge years prior. Soon she befriends Malcolm, a shy kid whose brother has been suspected of the murder of one of the town's most beloved girls. As more girls start disappearing from the town and ominous messages are being painted on walls, Ellery and Malcolm seek to reveal some of the townspeople's shady secrets.

This book is a YA murder-mystery enthusiast's dream. It is creepy, complex, and there are so many different characters from varying backgrounds, that at some point you wonder if a murderer even exists. I didn't expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. However, I did have some issues with it.

First of all, I think this book would be perfect to read in the fall. It takes place in a very stereotypical creepy small town, where almost everyone has got secrets. Not to mention that the book starts off in the fall, so there are definitely a lot of Halloween vibes. If you're into spooky things to kick off the fall season, this book is definitely for you. I can always appreciate this setting, so this was definitely a plus for me as well.

I really enjoyed the characters of this book. Ellery was super strong and intelligent, and Malcolm was also quite lovable. He was definitely everything I look for in a male protagonist. Nerdy, shy, and also very respectful. I hate it when the main male protagonist is super condescending to the female protagonist. Malcolm really let Ellery do her own thing and take charge, and it was awesome to see.

I did find myself wanting a bit more from some of the characters. Ellery's brother Ezra was a super funny queer guy, and I would have loved for him to have been more centered in the story. Being a twin myself, I also quite enjoy reading twin dynamics in books, so I would have loved more of that from this book.

I did not suspect who the murderer was at all. So that was a big shock, and the whole story really was brought together neatly. That being said, the ending was one big content warning for me. Without spoiling, there is a lot of adult predatory behaviour at the end of the novel, stuff that made me super uncomfortable. I think this book could have done with a content warning at the beginning, so it wouldn't shock people too much. It definitely put a damper on the big reveal for me.

I think this book goes for the shock value. Did I enjoy it? Yes. I don't read many YA thrillers anymore, and I think this book did the genre justice. I will also say that the final lines of the book are super creepy and really well crafted, so that is definitely something to look forward to. I can see people who love this genre really loving this book. But, approach with caution please, especially if you are going through any kind of trauma. I'm in a stage where I really have to be careful with the media I consume, so this might have been a little tough to get through.

Have you read Two Can Keep a Secret? What did you think?

Emily @ Paperback Princess


  1. My reactions reading this post -

    How much stuff is happening is this small town?!
    But then, I live in a small town.
    But not this much weird-a** stuff hap-
    -well except for that time when... and the other thing... and when *that* happened...
    ...OK, maybe this book has a point.


    Always take care reading Em! *Hugs* <3

    1. Seriously this book was a rollercoaster. I also live in a small town now, but I think small towns get a reputation of being kind of secretive and actually dangerous. Mine is super boring! But let's keep it that way haha.

    2. Mine is super good at noting, but ultimately ignoring, the darker parts! *nervous laughter* <3

  2. I liked the characters a lot in this one too, and you're right- it is creepy! Definitely more so than her first book, I thought. Agree about the ending- yikes! I'm definitely looking forward to her next book.

    1. Creepy is definitely the right word! I like how you said that it's not like her first book, because I have also read her first book and so I was not expecting how creepy this one got. But, she definitely does keep me interested!

  3. I love a good murder mystery and this one sounds so delightfully creepy. I have not read a lot of modern mystery novels since I stick to Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle so much. I think I am adding this to my TBR for the fall. Anything with spooky Halloween vibes is my kind of thing. Awesome review, Emily!

    1. Thanks Erin! I hope it gives you the spookiness you’re looking for. I actually just finished an Agatha Christie novel and it was good to get back into the genre.