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.”
“The Vanishing Stair” picks up shortly after the events of Truly Devious. I love the characters in this book and all of their quirkiness. Stevie is the perfect detective although she is not without flaws. I really enjoyed seeing the character development and growth from not only her, but with other characters in the book as well. The new characters were a perfect addition to the plot. The Ellingham Academy setting has a way of just fully immersing me into the story. Maureen Johnson can definitely set the scene.
There were so many little twists and turns throughout this book. As with Truly Devious, I really liked how the timeline alternated between past and present. Present day finds Stevie still reeling from the events of book one while trying to continue her quest to find out who was behind the Truly Devious Case. The past adds so many hints and layers to the story. There were a few things that stopped this from being a five-star read for me. The beginning was a little slow. It took a little while for the story to really get going. However, when it picked up, it really picked up! And the ending…that ending…that cliffhanger of an ending! I kept flipping and re-flipping pages like I was missing something, lol. I need answers! Did this book fall into the dreaded middle book curse? Maybe just a pinch. No more than a pinch! Thankfully, I already have part three, The Hand on the Wall, and can dig right in. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was full of suspense, quirkiness, and mystery.
TW: graphic murder, suicide/talk of suicide, tight spaces/ claustrophobia
Rep: LGBTQ+, anxiety/ mental health