polaroid photos with girls faces covered

About the Book

Title: Two Can Keep a Secret
Published: 2019
Swoonworthy Scale: 6

Cover Story: Thematic Big Face
BFF Charm: Yay x2
Talky Talk: Thriller Nights
Bonus Factors: Murder Mystery, True Crime
Relationship Status: SSDGM

Cover Story: Thematic Big Face

I’m really torn on this cover. On the one hand, I hate Big Face covers—it hinders my ability to imagine the characters the way I’d like to. But here, the girls’ faces are concealed, so I can’t use that argument. I’m not even sure which two girls these are supposed to be…Plus, scratching out character faces appears to be a theme with McManus’ books. Is it a Big Face? Yes. But is it a Big Face with purpose? Also yes, so I’ll let it slide this time.

The Deal:

The small town of Echo Ridge, Vermont has a dark history. Almost 20 years ago, a senior named Sarah went missing and was never seen again. Then, five years ago, homecoming queen Lacey was found dead at the town’s horror-themed amusement park, Murderland. Now, Ellery Corcoran and her twin brother Ezra have to move to Echo Ridge during their senior year after their mother Sadie (twin sister of the missing girl, Sarah) checks herself into rehab.

Echo Ridge welcomes the Corcoran twins right on brand: as they drive into town from the airport, they find a dead man in the middle of the road. And just days after their arrival, someone starts leaving murderous messages around town, threatening to reprise the old killings and murder this year’s homecoming queen.

Ellery and Ezra befriend Malcolm, the younger brother of Lacey’s suspected killer. Malcolm has been dealing with the fallout of Lacey’s murder for five years, and when Echo Ridge’s dark past rears its ugly head again, Malcolm always seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Is he being framed, or does Malcolm have his own secrets?

BFF Charm: Yay x2

2 BFF charms

Moving to a new town is hard enough, but moving to a new town where your mother was homecoming queen 20 years ago and her twin sister remains one of the biggest mysteries in the town’s history is MUCH harder. Ellery took it all in stride though. She was pretty chill, even when she was nominated to the homecoming court just two weeks after arriving in Echo Ridge and murderous messages about her started appearing around town. She kept her head in a situation where I’m not sure I could’ve done the same. And bonus points: she’s a Murderino! (More on that in my Bonus Factors.)

Malcolm always grew up in the shadow of his older brother. Declan was popular, captain of the football team, a veritable high school god. But when Declan’s girlfriend, Lacey, was found strangled not long after their nasty breakup, Malcolm found himself in a different sort of shadow. Declan was never arrested for Lacey’s murder, but the town has shunned their entire family ever since. Given the circumstances, I was always pleasantly surprised by Malcolm. He never cowed to the weight of Echo Ridge’s perceived notions of him, and he always tried to do the right thing, even when it made him look very guilty.

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

There was nothing wrong with the swoon between Malcolm and Ellery. They had a nice, slow burn of a romance with all the sweet getting-to-know-you moments that you’d expect. But this was a story in which the swoon took a backseat to the mystery, rather than Malcolm and Ellery having super hot bonding moments over their shared horrors.

Talky Talk: Thriller Nights

Two Can Keep A Secret alternates between Ellery’s and Malcolm’s perspectives, and McManus does a great job at capturing each of their voices. I devoured this book in 48 hours because I suspected every single character. Even Ellery and Malcolm! McManus is so masterful at creating exciting twists in her storytelling that despite constantly wondering who the murderer could be, I was still surprised in the end. McManus managed to weave a handful of plots into one big question mark of a story, and none of the answers were what you expect.

Bonus Factor: Murder Mystery

Cast of the movie Clue gathered in doorway

You can always count me in for a good old fashioned whodunnit, and McManus is extremely good at them. Plus, the added spooky atmosphere of the Murderland amusement park really ratchets up the kitsch factor.

Bonus Factor: True Crime

Ellery is obsessed with true crime. She’s a Murderino, just like me, so she’s always name dropping her favorite true crime authors. I loved the way she tried to put the pieces together, even when she sometimes turned out to be wrong. But Ellery, girl! First rule of being a Murderino: STAY. OUT. OF. THE. FOREST.

Relationship Status: SSDGM

Book, you had all my favorite things: mysteries, spooks, twists, turns, and a highly specific horror-themed amusement park. You’re like the Halloween version of my favorite kind of contemporary YA book, which isn’t something I realized I needed until I had you. We’ve got a lot in common, and I hope we both survive long enough to take things to the next level. Stay sexy, Book, and don’t get murdered.

FTC Full Disclosure: This review was originally posted on Kirkus Reviews in exchange for monetary compensation, which did not affect or influence my opinions. Two Can Keep A Secret will be available January 8, 2019.

Rosemary lives in Little Rock, AR with her husband and cocker spaniel. At 16, she plucked a copy of Sloppy Firsts off the "New Releases" shelf and hasn't stopped reading YA since. She is a brand designer who loves tiki drinks, her mid-century modern house, and obsessive Google mapping.