4 star, YA

Review: The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson

Truly Devious #2

All Stevie Bell wanted was to find the key to the Ellingham mystery, but instead she found her classmate dead. And while she solved that murder, the crimes of the past are still waiting in the dark. Just as Stevie feels she’s on the cusp of putting it together, her parents pull her out of Ellingham academy.

For her own safety they say. She must move past this obsession with crime. Now that Stevie’s away from the school of topiaries and secret tunnels, and her strange and endearing friends, she begins to feel disconnected from the rest of the world. At least she won’t have to see David anymore. David, who she kissed. David, who lied to her about his identity—son of despised politician Edward King. Then King himself arrives at her house to offer a deal: He will bring Stevie back to Ellingham immediately. In return, she must play nice with David. King is in the midst of a campaign and can’t afford his son stirring up trouble. If Stevie’s at school, David will stay put.

The tantalizing riddles behind the Ellingham murders are still waiting to be unraveled, and Stevie knows she’s so close. But the path to the truth has more twists and turns than she can imagine—and moving forward involves hurting someone she cares for. In New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson’s second novel of the Truly Devious series, nothing is free, and someone will pay for the truth with their life.

Book number two in the Truly Devious series. This story takes place after the initial series of events in Truly Devious. I would say this novel had more of the answers that I was already hungry for in book one, and it really did satisfy that mystery portion that I was looking forward to. Both Andge and I felt that it was definitely more of a satisfying novel, and as such rate it at 4 Drink Me Potions, slightly higher than book one.

The Vanishing Stair refers to the last riddle of Albert Ellingham before his death, part of the entire case that our protagonist, Stevie, tries to solve. This story takes place after the disappearance of Element Walker at the end of the last novel, and Stevie had been sent home away from Ellingham Academy. How will she find a way to be sent back? And what other mysteries await there for her to solve?

Credit where credit is due first, the mystery portion of this book was significantly more satisfying than the last one. A lot of the unanswered mysteries in Truly Devious were answered here. The building of suspense was pretty good, and the revelation of information unfolding was also executed in a timely manner. There are still a few more mysteries to be unveiled in the next book, and we shall see if that also delivers, but at least in this book, the open ends aren’t as suspended in mid air as it was in the first book.

The characters were once again pretty decent. Characters were consistent in their behaviour, and provided good foils and suspects for the mystery. The many characters in the story really helped build the whole intrigue behind Ellingham Academy. The relationships for the most part are pretty natural – unfortunately except for Stevie’s. I found her relationship to be a bit lackluster and perhaps even a bit forced. I just found it unnecessary to the growth and success of her character. It was nice to see some minor changes in growth within her closest circle though.

Nice to see that there was an expansion on the Truly Devious letter, but I suspect this will remain the biggest mystery for book three. While we did learn more about it here, the mystery wasn’t totally solved! This is the last piece of the puzzle I would really like to see. Hopefully that comes to fruition.

If you missed Andge’s review for book 1, I will link it here! Go and check out this series! It’s a pretty fun one, as YA mysteries tend to be more few and far in between.

Overall Recommendations

The Vanishing Stair is book two in the Truly Devious series, where our young detective-in-training, Stevie, continues to investigate the mystery of Ellingham Academy. As a sequel, this book answers many of the open ends that were left in book one, and has a more satisfying mystery component. Full of mystery and intrigue at the cryptic mountain location of Ellingham Academy, what mystery awaits Stevie in her glorious return to school? What helps her escape her parent’s clutches in the first place, and is was it worth it for her to pay the price to go back to the academy?

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