I could not have been more excited about the release of Two Can Keep a Secret. Karen McManus** — who has been such an amazing supporter of the Cannonball Read — currently has TWO books on the NYTimes bestsellers list, which is phenomenal. So many of us read — and loved — her debut novel, One of Us is Lyinglast year, and its been great to see that book is still attracting new readers and new fans.
TCKAS is a mystery about missing girls in a small town in Vermont. Twins Ellery and Ezra are sent there for their senior year to live with their grandmother, who they don’t even really know. Their mom, an aspiring Hollywood actress and successful Hollywood drug addict, is in rehab, and their trip to New England is court ordered.
They don’t know much about the life that their mom Sadie left behind in Vermont, other than that she left after her twin sister, Sarah, disappeared after their homecoming dance — where Sadie was homecoming queen — and has never been seen again.
But Sarah’s disappearance ins’t the only mystery that this small town has in its past. Five years ago, Lacey, the homecoming queen, was found murdered at the town’s famous Halloween theme park.
And this year, an anonymous someone has been threatening to kill the homecoming queen.
Ellery is a true crime addict and jumps head-first into trying to figure out who is behind the menacing threats. And what does her arrival in town have to do with any of it? Will something bad happen at the halloween theme park? Why won’t her mother or her grandmother ever talk about what happened to Sarah? Who killed Lacey? Now that Ellery has been nominated to the homecoming court, is her life in danger, too?
Here’s an interesting tidbit: recently, I’ve read a book (Broken Things) about an unsolved teen murder in Vermont, and I’ve read a book about an unsolved teen murder at a Halloween theme park (There’s Someone Inside Your House) and this book is so much better than both of those. I guess small town halloween theme park teen murders are this year’s vampire dystopian love triangles. Fine by me. I am here for it.
The setting of the other theme park book didn’t really make sense to me. But here, for this troubled town, it does. At one point, Ellery notes:
All of Fright Farm’s success is based on how much people love to be scared in a controlled environment. There’s something deeply, fundamentally satisfying about confronting a monster and escaping unscathed…Real monsters aren’t anything like that. They don’t let go.
I could not put this book down. I had no idea what was going to happen, and was 100% wrong every time I tried to guess how it might end. I’m happy to report that not only does TCKAS keep the reader in suspense for the entire book, but it ends on a shocking, kick ass MIC DROP. I read the last sentence, closed the book, and said “Hell, yeah” out loud to myself.
**PS, Karen and I went to college together. I am so proud of what she has accomplished and cannot wait to read everything she puts down on paper. If you follow her on twitter you know that she is a great supporter of other YA writers and just an absolute pleasure in general. Looking forward to seeing her at a Barnes & Noble Q&A next week!!