BOOK REVIEW: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

“The versatile Johnson is no stranger to suspense, and this twisty thriller will leave plenty of readers anxious for more.” -Booklist

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Title: Truly Devious

Author: Maureen Johnson

Publisher: Harper Collins

Genre: Mystery, YA

Format: Physical

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5


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. 


I really enjoyed this book! First of all, I LOVE a good mystery! I didn’t really know what to expect from this one because I didn’t read anything about it beforehand – I just saw so many people liked it and I enjoy Maureen Johnson so I just picked it up! I was not disappointed at all!!

This book was everything I enjoy in a fun mystery. The story is set in a school (Ellingham Academy) that is deep in the forest in Vermont! It’s secluded and hard to reach so OBVIOUSLY it’s the perfect spot for a mystery. The best part is that the school has a past history of bad things happening there and while the story unfolds the reader discovers all these clues that piece together not only the current mystery but also the mystery in the past! I enjoyed that part 😊

Stevie!!! She is MY GIRL. I loved her. She reminded me very much of the female version of Sherlock Holmes (which was totally the point). She was so smart and I loved her confidence in her abilities. She knew she had skills and she didn’t let anyone tell her otherwise. I found myself really cheering her on throughout the book. I especially liked that she stuck to her goal which was to solve the mystery but also let herself explore being a teenager and feelings that come with that.

The book had a little bit of romance (maybe romance?) and it was enough. This was one of those stories that you don’t even need any romance or relationship stuff happening because you are just so into the plot, it didn’t even matter to me what the characters were doing to be honest. I was so engulfed in the mystery, nothing else mattered!

I liked the characters! I think the author did a good job of being descriptive but also leaving enough out that everyone was kind of mysterious and questionable! At times I felt like I was part of the game Clue! I also found that while the mystery was not overly complicated, I was always kept on my toes. I did not see really any of the twists coming and I DID NOT see the last twist coming, I was thoroughly shocked (which is what you want with these books)!

Overall, this was super fun and a great read! I found I was trying to solve the mystery alongside Stevie and I think those are the best stories – where you are so into the story that it feels like you are right there with the character. I don’t really have any negative things to say about this one. The only reason it didn’t get 5 stars is because it didn’t leave me “shook.” It was a good story with good characters and an interesting plot, but I didn’t put the book down and go “woah the heck happened there.” BUT still so good and I’m so excited to read the rest of the series!!

Have you read this book? What did you think of it?


5 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

  1. This has been sitting on my unread shelf for what feels like FOREVER now but I’ve heard such great things about it. I really need to get on it soon. Really loving the sound of this even more now 😀 Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you 😊 it was a really good book!! I had it sitting on my shelf for so long before I picked it up haha happy I got to it!! Now I need to read the other 2 haha


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