BOOK REVIEW: Truly Devious: A Mystery by Maureen Johnson

“Stevie had no fears of the dead. The living, however, sometimes gave her the creeps.”

NGL here, my Harriet the Spy-loving heart did a little jump for joy while reading this one because Maureen Johnson's Truly Devious truly felt like a more grown-up, tech savvy version of the book that literally shaped my childhood, with Stevie taking up the role of Harriet, Nate starring as Sport, and Janelle headlining as the inimitable Janie. But I digress...Truly Devious, in a sea of supernatural, stands out as an unputdownable thriller in the vein of Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes that will make. you. swoon.

There is nothing truly remarkable about 16-year-old Stevie Bell, so when she lands a spot at the exclusive Ellingham Academy, a school nestled in the remote mountains of Vermont, priding itself on its gifted student body, she questions whether a mistake has been made. After all, her only true talent lies in her obsession with true crime - particularly a case that took place at Ellingham Academy eighty years ago {more on that later}. Nevertheless, Stevie is desperate to fulfill her desire of finding a dead body {morbid, I know}, and experiencing adventure that will put her on a path to becoming a detective, so she heads to the elusive institution. If a mistake has been made, they'll simply send her home - no harm, no foul.

A free institution for the best and brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists across the country; Ellingham Academy was founded in the early Twentieth Century by Albert Ellingham - a tycoon determined to create a novel learning experience highlighting that "learning is a game." But soon after opening its doors to the public, Ellingham's beloved wife and young daughter go missing. In their place is a mocking riddle constructed of possible heinous deaths the pair may endure, and an ominous signature...Truly Devious.

A cold case dubbed one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in American history; Stevie is convinced that by gaining access to Ellingham, she'll be able to hunt for clues and solve the mystery - thereby placing her on the map as an up and coming detective to be reckoned with. But soon after arriving at Ellingham, Stevie finds herself embroiled in a different death, one carried out by a Truly Devious copycat, and knows that it's time to put her detective skills to work to catch the killer - before the killer catches her.

My one qualm about Truly Devious was that I did not discover it sooner, because it was everything I've been hoping to find in a YA - romance on the backburner, mystery at the forefront, and a dynamite cast of characters. Though the idea of Ellingham, at times, seems too good to be true {free in this day and age??}; Johnson makes it work splendidly, and makes it difficult not to complete the book in one sitting. NGL, some may feel very perturbed by the cliffhanger of all cliffhangers at the end; but having bonded with the characters, I didn't see the loose end as a flaw - rather, a chance to come up with a few theories of my own before snagging the sequel, The Vanishing Stair.

If you're seeking a new mystery series to sink your teeth into, this one comes highly recommended. Bravo Ms. Johnson!

Star Rating: *****



Caitlin'nMegan said...

Awesome review! I plan to look for this series. Thanks so much!

Ivy's Closet said...

Oh, so delightful to read about! Looks like a great July read for mysteries!

ellie said...

Wonderful review. Looks like some awesome characters and creepy cool storyline!

Teresa Isabel Silva said...

Great Post Dear!

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