Ears on the Odyssey

Review: Two Can Keep a Secret

Colleen Seisser feels the thrills and chills in this much anticipated Karen M. McManus YA mystery.

2 can keep secret

Two Can Keep a Secret is the follow-up for McManus’s uber-popular One of Us Is Lying, and though they are both killer mysteries (*see what I did there*), Two Can Keep a Secret is not a sequel. This is a stand-alone mystery, and just as good as One of Us is Lying. It centers on twins Ellery and Ezra who have just moved to the small Northeastern town of Echo Ridge. They are moving in with their grandmother because their wannabe starlet mother just checked into rehab.

Echo Ridge does not have the greatest of reputations. Ellery and Ezra’s aunt (their mother’s twin) disappeared when in high school, and recently, Lacey Kilduff, one of the most popular girls in school, was found dead in the town’s amusement park, Murderland. Ellery is a murder mystery fanatic, and even though she is having a hard time living with a grandmother she barely knows, she is geeking out over the recent unsolved murder and the possibility to learn more about her missing aunt.

The other main character in the novel is Malcolm, or Mal. Mal is Declan Kelly’s brother, and Declan is the prime suspect in Lacey’s murder. He was her boyfriend at the time (it’s always the boyfriend…), and he did not have a solid alibi for the night she was murdered. Mal and Ellery have a chance meeting at the beginning of the novel, when they both discover graffiti outside of a fundraiser for Lacey that promises more murders in Echo Lake.

Ellery and Mal develop a friendship that includes Mal’s best friend Mia and Ellery’s brother Ezra. The four become a team of investigators when the Homecoming Court is announced and threats of more murders continue, with the promise to target the Homecoming Court. When one of the other Homecoming Princesses goes missing, the whole town is thrown into upheaval as they try to find another missing girl.

Narrators Amoss and Heyborne are a perfect fit for this audiobook! Both embody their characters, as well as give life to the full cast of characters in this thrilling mystery. Amoss, who voices Ellery, has an ideal mystery voicing, as she gives Ellery a calm, cool demeanor while letting the listeners also know that Ellery’s mind and internal thoughts are racing a mile a minute. Amoss also voices Ellery with a clear, crisp narration that easily lands great quips, and somehow voices what I could clearly see in my head as eye rolls while she talked. Finally, the highlight of Amoss’s performance is in a later scene when she is called to play Ellery as sleepy and drowsy. Amoss takes care to draw out the space in between her words and her words are pronounced very slowly. A listener easily understands the toll it is taking on Ellery to try and stay awake.

Heyborne, who voices Mal, gives him a more subdued, angsty character voicing. What I think perhaps is one of Heyborne’s best qualities, however, is his range of character voicing and also his seemingly natural way of ratcheting up the intensity.  Part of the way he accomplishes this intensity is this is that he does the creepy male character voicing very well. The best example of this in Two Can Keep a Secret is with Mal’s brother, Declan. Declan is a dark character for much of the book, and you can just feel it in the intense way he talks with his brother Mal, oftentimes gritting out his words. Heyborne also excels in his portrayal of the female cast. He shines as he voices a sad and very drunk Homecoming Princess illogically talking about her problems and a hysterical older sister making a confession about a forbidden love.

However, my highest recommendation for you to you to listen to this audiobook is so that you can experience the last line uttered in this production by Heyborne. I quite literally had goosebumps for at least five minutes after it was spoken and even now as I am typing, the words are coming back to haunt me–but in the best way possible!

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus, read by Sophie Amoss and Kirby Heyborne. 10 hours, 7 minutes. Listening Library, 2019.

Colleen Seisser is the Collection Services Manager at the Aurora Public Library in Aurora, IL. She is a current Board Member at Large on the YALSA Board of Directors and she also reviews audiobooks for Booklist Magazine. Colleen attributes ramping up her obsession with audiobooks from serving in various roles on YALSA’s Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults Committee from 2012-15. She has been listening non-stop since then! When not listening, Colleen is either crafting, gardening, or jammin’ on her planner!  Find her on Twitter @colleenTS81

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