The Truly Devious case—an unsolved kidnapping and triple murder that rocked Ellingham Academy in 1936—has consumed Stevie Bell for years. It’s the very reason she came to the academy. But then her classmate Hayes Major was murdered, and though she identified his killer, her parents quickly pull her out of school. For her safety, they say.
Stevie’s willing to do anything to get back to Ellingham, be with her friends, and solve the case. Even if it means making a deal with the despicable Senator Edward King. And when Stevie finally returns, she also returns to David: the guy she kissed the guy she’s conflicted about at all times and the guy who lied about his identity—Edward King’s soon. But larger issues are at play. Was Hayes death really solved? Where did his murderer hideaway to? What’s the meaning of the riddle Albert Ellingham left behind? And what, exactly, is at stake in the Truly Devious affair?
The Ellingham case isn’t just a piece of history—it’s a live wire into the present. The path to the truth has more twists and turns than Stevie can imagine, and moving forward involves hurting someone she cares for. In New York Times best-selling author Maureen Johnson’s second novel in the Truly Devious series, someone will pay for the truth with their life.
Maureen Johnson can do no wrong, honestly. I’ve loved everything I’ve ever read from her. This series just keeps getting better. I loved Truly Devious. (Read my review here.) I was left with so many questions at the end of the first book. The Vanishing Stair keeps on going with the questions. We got more answers than I expected but still were left with some questions. I honestly was a little disappointed at one of the big reveals because I didn’t think we would get it until the final book. Though there’s still more related questions that didn’t get answered, I wasn’t expecting to have the big mystery solved in book two. I hope any of that makes sense.
Stevie is still an anxious ball of mystery solving madness. She has great instincts and is just so relatable. I loved her. I didn’t get as much character interaction as I would have liked. I felt like there was a lot more inner dialogue from Stevie rather than her being with her friends. Also, David was supposed to be a huge part of the story and I feel like we only saw bits and pieces of him. He flitted in and out of the story, never really staying in focus, never the center of attention. I would have liked to see a bit more, but I think that just added to the mysteriousness of the whole book.
I love stories that are set at boarding schools and this one was no different. With all of the hidden doors and tunnels, it was the perfect place for Stevie. The school is so unusual and curious and I would love to have had the opportunity to go here. It’s such an atmospheric setting for all sorts of moods. The hidden tunnels, the dorms, the yert. I loved everything about it. There’s something about boarding school settings that really just appeal to me personally. It’s a buzzword for me for sure. I’ll almost always read and enjoy a book with a boarding setting and Ellingham Academy is unique even among boarding schools.
The final thing I want to mention is the ending. I was not happy. Mostly because it left so many questions unanswered. I was a bit confused with what exactly happened there in the final pages. I am so unhappy that I have to wait almost a year for the final book that will give me all the answers.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I love this series. I love the characters. The story is compelling and holds my interest. I cannot wait to see how Maureen Johnson is going to wrap this story up.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.