Every Word by Ellie Marney

October 30, 2014 Reviews 2 ★★★★★

Every Word by Ellie MarneyEvery Word (Every #2) by Ellie Marney
Published: June 1st 2014 by Allen & Unwin
Format: Paperback, 340 pages
Genres: Crime, Thriller/Mystery
Source: Publisher
Goodreads BooktopiaBookworld
5 Stars

James Mycroft has just left for London to investigate a car accident similar to the one that killed his parents seven years ago...without saying goodbye to Rachel Watts, his 'partner in crime'.

Rachel is furious and worried about his strange behaviour - not that Mycroft's ever exactly normal, but London is the scene of so many of his nightmares. So Rachel jumps on a plane to follow him...and lands straight in a whole storm of trouble.

The theft of a copy of Shakespeare's First Folio, the possible murder of a rare books conservator, and the deaths of Mycroft's parents...Can Watts help Mycroft make sense of the three events - or will she lose him forever?

We take up with Mycroft and Watts some eight weeks after Every Breath, when news from London sets a new sleuthing adventure in motion for the troubled duo. Every Word is a gripping crime-thiller that builds on the foundations laid down in Every Breath, and is every bit as exciting and engaging as its predecessor.

(James) Mycroft and (Rachel) Watts are now in a relationship, having spent most of the earlier book as friends, and there are some incredible moments between them in this book. Their relationship in no way detracts from the excitement and danger of the case they are working on, but Marney has interleaved wonderful character moments in the midst of everything else. In particular, I liked that the relationships Rachel and James have with their families is explored as well as the newness of being girlfriend and boyfriend.

There is a tendency in YA to have the protagonists of a book be completely hot for each other except for that one time when they’re all alone and unsupervised, where they suddenly decide to sleep chastely next to each other on the same bed. It’s always frustrated me because it doesn’t feel authentic, and more often than not it comes across as an author setting judgements and boundaries on their teenaged characters that have more to do with what they’re comfortable with (or, worse, their way of sustaining of narrative tension), than with the natures of the characters themselves.

So I was really glad when Marney didn’t take that road, and instead showed how her characters are fiercely attracted to each other and are quite eager to explore the more intimate aspects of a relationship. There are some really steamy moments in Every Word. My point here is that Marney doesn’t seem to be going out of her way to keep sex as a reward for her characters, and instead has let their interactions play out in a way that seems more natural to me. There are still interruptions and all that, but it doesn’t feel as contrived as other YA novels I have read. Another wonderful thing about the relationship between Watts and Mycroft is that Mycroft’s tendency to hide things from people, even Rachel, is called out and questioned.

There is a lot of darkness and danger in this book, and the mystery surrounding Mycroft’s past is deepening. The stakes are higher, but so are the rewards. Although the solve-the-mystery aspect of the book is preserved, Every Word is more ambitious than its predecessor, with its international scale and absolutely terrifying villains. There are also certain things that happen to Mycroft and Watts that, although in keeping with the grittiness of the story, surprised me because they’re usually not included in YA novels. Go Ellie for not under-estimating her audience and actually putting her protagonists in real danger (which caused some nail-biting on my end!).

Every Word is certainly a stronger novel than Every Breath. As you’d expect, the writing style has matured, the plotting is tighter, and everything just flows slightly better than Every Breath. I am in no way implying that Marney’s début was bad, but rather that I am happy (as always) to see when authors continue to hone their skills at their craft.

One of the things I loved about Every Breath was the evocative way that Melbourne was brought to life by the author. With the setting changed in Every Word to the streets of London, I was a teeny bit apprehensive about the atmosphere of the novel. I shouldn’t have worried – the change in setting is brilliantly executed and obviously well researched, and even though I’ve never been to London, I thought the atmosphere of the city was conveyed very well.

Every Word is a brilliant follow-up to Every Breath, and I am excited about where the story is heading. There are many more mysteries to uncover in the future, and I can’t wait to get back with Mycroft and Watts in Every Move next year.

BloggingOutsideTheBox Blogging Outside the Box is a  feature at Speculating on SpecFic, where books outside the SFF banner are reviewed. It is intended to highlight some of the non speculative fiction titles I am reading and share my thoughts with readers.

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