The Vanishing Stair – Maureen Johnson

Title: The Vanishing Stair
Author: Maureen Johnson
Series: Truly Devious #2
Genre: YA, Mystery
: January 22nd, 2019 (Katherine Tegen Books)

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.


“Where do you look for someone who’s never really there?
Always on a staircase but never on a stair.”

In this riveting sequel to Truly Devious, Stevie continues to investigate the Ellingham murders, but Ellingham Academy still has more secrets to be told. As the half century old mystery unfolds, more and more questions arise as the plot thickens in present day. Stevie has unwillingly returned home with her parents, but with a surprising intervention by Edward King, the politician she despises, she heads back, accepting his offered deal. Back at school, Ellie is still missing, seemingly vanished into thin air, David is acting extremely strange, and Stevie is certain Hayes’ death was no accident.

I read Truly Devious several months after it released, and though I liked it, it didn’t stick. The only reason I even picked up the sequel is because I really wanted to know the answers that Maureen Johnson is an expert at holding onto until the last possible moment. This is everything you were hoping for!

One big question – who masterminded the kidnappings in the 30s – is finally answered, but that leaves the other big question still hanging – what happened to Alice Ellingham, and what is the secret about her that is alluded to? I have so many questions and so many theories, it’s hard to keep them straight, especially as every single character seems to be acting shifty at one time or another. I have to admit, I was extremely frustrated at the ending of this book (not to mention confused), because it felt like the answers were within reach … and then there was a cliffhanger and a blank page. The question of who was answered, yes, and I never saw it coming, but the reason why…was lacklustre, especially since I had worked myself up for a grand conspiracy reveal of some sort.

The Vanishing Stair is a thoroughly satisfying follow up to Truly Devious that gets right to the point. There’s no wasting time with repeating the story so far, which leaves more room to get to know the new characters. I really liked the presentation of the story with parallel storylines in the past and present. It makes the mystery more complex and even harder to pull yourself away from. This is a book well worth the read and I would highly recommend that mystery lovers give this series a try!

Now then, where’s that sequel?

Hope you enjoyed this review! Have you read this book or do you plan to? What did you think of it?
Other reviews in this series:
Book 1: Truly Devious
Book 3: The Hand on the Wall


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