Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen McManus (ARC): A Solid Mystery, but Not as Good as One of Us Is Lying

4 stars

Ellery’s never been to Echo Ridge, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.

The town is picture-perfect, but it’s hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone’s declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago, and a girl goes missing.

Everyone is hiding something, but secrets are dangerous–and most people aren’t good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it’s safest to keep your secrets to yourself.

🌸 15+, but 14 year olds could definitely read it! (Even mature 13 year olds, but I do think it is a little dark and best to wait.)

I enjoyed reading this a lot, but I do have to say that it wasn’t as good as One of Us Is Lying in the way that I wasn’t extremely engrossed in reading.

And by no means does that mean it’s a bad book–it’s just a different type of book.

For me, One of Us Is Lying was a total marathon read where I grabbed it out of my mother’s hands, ran to my bed, sat down, and read it for 2.5 hours straight, flipping pages frantically.

On the other hand, Two Can Keep a Secret was more low key and something I read spread out, and then all at once to finish. It’s a different type of mystery–more rooted in past events and with a different type of stake.

While in One of Us Is Lying, the main characters were the suspects and the stakes were really high, in Two Can Keep a Secret, the stakes were a lot lower in my opinion because the main character, Ellery, wasn’t accused. Malcom, however, was, but it wasn’t like every single narrator was a suspect.

Similarly, I found that this book had a lot to do with events in the past and things that happened during Ellery’s mother’s time, rather than Ellery herself’s.

This is largely why I felt like this book was a 4 star–not only did it slow down the narrative to have to look at all these things that happened in the past, but it also felt like we had a lot more characters to work with, which is something that also made it a little harder to digest.

Sometimes I would just read a character and nod along silently, as if I knew who they were, but wasn’t 100% sure. Aka I found it really important to pay attention in the beginning to who the characters were, and I think the way McManus introduced them might not have been enough to cement who was who in my mind.

Obviously part of this is probably because I’m not the most involved reader & wasn’t giving it my 100%, but I do think there was an element that could have been improved.

Despite this, there were still a lot of good things about Two Can Keep a Secret–mainly how I was pretty invested in the main characters.

When I read some mystery novels, sometimes it feels like I’m here for the mystery and not the characters, but with this book, I felt adequately invested in Ellery and Malcom themselves and wanted to know how things ended up with them, not just with the mystery in general.

That’s a big reason why I like McManus’ books–she devotes a good amount of time to the main characters and making us interested and invested in them, not just the mystery.

Overall, I thought the mystery was solid and definitely did not guess the murderer (again), but a lot of it did feel like something I had to wait to gather the clues for, vs. in One of Us Is Lying which you might have been able to guess right from the start.

In the end, Two Can Keep a Secret was a solid mystery, but one I just wasn’t into conceptually as much as I was with McManus’ debut, One of Us Is Lying. It might be comparing apples and oranges a little, but if you liked One of Us, you might still like this. And if you didn’t, you still might like this.

Thank you so much to Mike Lasagna for sending me an advance reader’s copy! This is my honest opinion.

Have you read One of Us Is Lying? What did you think, and are you excited for this?

7 thoughts on “Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen McManus (ARC): A Solid Mystery, but Not as Good as One of Us Is Lying

  1. Lovely review Vicky! I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy that one as much as the author’s debut. I have to say, I’m not a big mystery reader, but I am a little curious to see what this author writes, I may give her books a try sometime 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! It was still pretty fun, so I’m not complaining too much! If you want to get into mystery, I would definitely recommend starting with One of Us Is Lying–it’s what I did, and I became OBSESSED.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve already read One of Us is Lying, and really enjoyed it, though I did identify a few problematic elements in the story. When I read the synopsis for this one, however, it didn’t give me the same original mystery vibes that One of us Lying did. The way the summary was written felt very much like any other Pretty Little Liars novel – small town that looks perfect, but is actually full of secrets. As I’ve already read most of the PLL series, I was skeptical about it, thinking it would sound too repetitive.
    But I’m glad that, as you pointed out in your review, the author kept the story very character-driven, which was my favorite thing about One of Us is Lying. Rather than just being invested in the mystery’s resolution, I was also feeling for the characters and rooting for some of them. I’m glad that this element wasn’t lost in this following novel.
    I may still give this one a try, sometime. Lovely review, Vicky!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah! It’s definitely a different brand of mystery, and in general I’m not as interested in small town vs. OOUIL, but I hope you do enjoy if you do decide to read! Thank you so much for all the thoughtful words ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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