Review: The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson

Title: The Vanishing Stair (Truly Devious, #2)
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 384 Pages
Published January 2019

Summary: 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.

You guys. OMG. I just finished reading this book, and I'm in such shock that I immediately had to open my laptop and write my review while the emotions are still fresh. This book shocked me in ways that I never saw coming -- and yes, you DO find out more about Truly Devious in this book. And it definitely leaves you wanting more for the third book in the trilogy. So without further ado, let's jump right into my review. (You can read my review of Truly Devious, the first book in the trilogy, by clicking here!)

As the summary explains, after Stevie's classmate dies, she finds herself torn away from Ellingham Academy. But she wants -- no, she needs -- to get back, because she has facts that can help solve the Ellingham case. Facts that nobody else -- not even the biggest scholars on the case -- know. And what she has can change everything. But it's not that easy, because she also has to deal with David, who is going through his own rough time, and his insufferable father. And more mysteries, shocking plot twists, tunnels, and secrets that she wished she never had to uncover. And it's definitely safe to say that what you find out will surprise you.

OMG, I really enjoyed reading this book. The mystery in this book was also really well-done, which is not something that I'm usually accustomed to liking. I wasn't a huge mystery fan growing up, because I always felt like I could spot the killer from a mile away, but with this book, I definitely couldn't. There were so many different leads, as well as so many different dead ends, that I wasn't sure where to look. The fact that the book also alternates between the time of the killing and also present-day adds another layer to the mystery, because as readers we know certain facts about the case that Stevie doesn't know yet, which adds to the suspense. Overall, this book had me hooked and I was reading over a hundred pages each day (LOL, subsequently ignoring my schoolwork) because I wanted to know what was going to happen next.

The only reason that I didn't give this book five stars was because at times it felt like it was moving a bit too slowly for me, and there were a few instances where I felt like I really couldn't connect with Stevie all that much because she seemed...I don't know. It's hard to explain it. There are some moments where Johnson puts a lot of detail into Stevie and makes her a really vivid character that I can really understand, and there are some moments where she's barely described and I feel like I have no idea who she is or what her personality's like, so I don't know how to feel about her. So that was something that I definitely struggled with throughout the book a few times -- I felt like all of the other characters were all really grounded with lots of traits and personalities and unique things that could be attributed to them, but we didn't get into Stevie's own mindset very much -- it just felt like she was moving through the motions sometimes, as a body on a page without us really knowing anything about her. So that was something I found a bit hard to understand while reading.

(MAJOR, MAJOR, ***MAJOR*** SPOILERS HERE. SKIP TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH TO AVOID THEM!) Oh my god, I just need to talk about the ending for a second. I absolutely wasn't expecting Truly Devious to be who it was....and everything that went down in the last few chapters of the book. Especially those last few lines -- I had to reread them a few times because I was so shocked about everything that unfolded and I just really wanted to know what was going to happen next, and I was so disappointed when I didn't get the chance to find out! And Dr. Fenton...OMG. So much went on in those last few chapters that I had to go back and reread to process it all again. Talk about a punchy ending!

Overall, I really enjoyed reading The Vanishing Stair. While I definitely enjoyed Truly Devious a little bit more, this book didn't fail to disappoint and it was filled with so much mystery and adventure that I found myself unable to put it down. I'm definitely looking forward to the third (and unfortunately, final) book in the trilogy, because with the way everything ended, I can't bear not knowing what will happen next. Even as someone who isn't a particularly large reader of mysteries, this series hooked me and refused to let me go, and now I'm eagerly hanging on and waiting for the next book so I can find out what happens when it all begins to unravel. Hats off to Maureen Johnson for another excellent book!

1 comment

  1. I agree wholeheartedly, and I really really want to read the two books back to back so I can see how they fit together. I'll probably save that for right before the release of book 3, cause I'll need a refresher :)


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