Tag Archives: private schools

The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson

The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson. January 22, 2019. Katherine Tegen Books, 384 p. ISBN: 9780062338082.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

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.

Sequel to: Truly Devious

Part of Series: Truly Devious (Book 2)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Underage drinking, Smoking

 

Video Review

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 9))
Grades 9-12. When true-crime-obsessed teenager Stevie Bell made surprising headway on Ellingham Academy’s infamous 80-year-old cold case, she wasn’t expecting one of her classmates to turn up dead and another to vanish. But in Truly Devious​ (2018), they did, and now Stevie’s parents have pulled her out of school, far away from mysteries both past and present. Stuck, at least, until she gets an offer she can’t refuse from a man with plenty of ulterior motives. But for this single-minded sleuth, nothing is more important than Ellingham’s secrets. In this second trilogy installment, Johnson gives and she takes away: a few major mysteries are satisfying solved, but other long-standing riddles remain tantalizingly indecipherable, and several new ones come into play by the enigmatic end. That Johnson handles all these plots without stalling her tale or relying on shock value to hook her audience is a testament to her skills as a storyteller. Readers, hang tight: there’s one more round to come, and if the signs are right, it’ll be to die for.

About the Author

Maureen knew from an early age she wanted to be a writer. She went to high school at an all-girls’ Catholic school and graduated from University of Delaware with a degree in writing. She now lives and writes in New York City.

Many of the adventures Maureen’s characters face in her books are based on real-life stories. Maureen has traveled all over Europe, and is a Secret Sister to vlog brothers Hank and John Green.

Her website is www.maureenjohnsonbooks.com.

Around the Web

The Vanishing Stair on Amazon

The Vanishing Stair on Barnes and Noble

The Vanishing Stair on Goodreads

The Vanishing Stair on LibraryThing

The Vanishing Stair Publisher Page

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson. January 16, 2018. Katherine Tegen Books, 420 p. ISBN: 9780062338051.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson weaves a delicate tale of murder and mystery in the first book of a striking new series, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie and E. Lockhart.

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.

The two interwoven mysteries of this first book in the Truly Devious series dovetail brilliantly, and Stevie Bell will continue her relentless quest for the murderers in books two and three.

Part of Series: Truly Devious (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Underage drinking, Smoking

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (November 1, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 5))
Grades 9-12. Stevie Bell’s deepest wish is to see a dead body. A true-crime aficionado and aspiring detective, she wanted to come to Ellington Academy for one reason: it’s the site of one of the most infamous unsolved kidnappings in the world. Founded by the wealthy, generous Albert Ellington, the private school is an academic haven where learning is playful. But in the 1930s, Ellington’s wife and young daughter were kidnapped, held for ransom, and then, presumably, murdered; the true perpetrator, who left enigmatic letters signed “Truly, Devious,” was never found. Stevie is determined to solve the crime, but her new housemates have secrets of their own, and her wish may come true sooner, and more frighteningly, than she ever wanted it to. Johnson (The Name of the Star, 2011) deftly twists two mysteries together—Stevie’s investigation is interspersed with case files and recollections from the Ellington kidnapping—and the result is a suspenseful, attention-grabbing mystery with no clear solution. Invested readers, never fear—this is just the first in a series.

Horn Book Magazine (January/February, 2018)
Aspiring sleuth Stevie Bell has just started her junior year at Ellingham Academy–an artsy Vermont enclave for offbeat students founded in the 1930s by eccentric philanthropist Albert Ellingham–when disaster strikes. One of her new classmates dies under mysterious circumstances in one of the campus’s hidden tunnels. The event uncannily evokes a tragedy that took place eighty years earlier when Ellingham’s wife and daughter disappeared. While the bodies of his wife and of an unlucky student were discovered later, his daughter was never found. The only clue is a cryptic riddle signed “Truly, Devious.” Stevie, an armchair expert in the Ellingham murder, now has two cases to crack. But she’s distracted from her mission by her ongoing battle with clinical anxiety and a blossoming attraction to her brooding housemate David, who just may be hiding secrets of his own. Told in alternating chapters that chronicle both Ellingham’s past ordeal and Stevie’s current detecting, Johnson’s finely tuned plot effectively employs classical mystery tropes while maintaining a thoroughly modern sensibility. Stevie’s quirky, ragtag bunch of new friends crosses sexuality and class lines, providing teen readers with a wealth of characters to connect with. And if the pacing is a bit leisurely, it’s only because Johnson is setting the stage for a planned trilogy. jennifer hubert swan

About the Author

Maureen knew from an early age she wanted to be a writer. She went to high school at an all-girls’ Catholic school and graduated from University of Delaware with a degree in writing. She now lives and writes in New York City.

Many of the adventures Maureen’s characters face in her books are based on real-life stories. Maureen has traveled all over Europe, and is a Secret Sister to vlog brothers Hank and John Green.

Her website is www.maureenjohnsonbooks.com.

Around the Web

Truly Devious on Amazon

Truly Devious on Goodreads

Truly Devious Publisher Page