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.
Synopsis from Goodreads
I really enjoyed Truly Devious because it was a fun introduction (for me) into the YA mystery genre. The mystery seemed unique and I enjoyed the story overall. When it was clear that this would be a series and that Stevie would need more time to solve the mysteries, I was excited to find out what would happen next. The Vanishing Stair picks up shortly after the previous book ends and Stevie is lamenting being stuck back at home... but have no fear, she quickly return to Ellingham Academy to continue trying to solve the open mysteries surrounding the school.
A Decent Mystery (and some funny moments along the way)
I really like that Stevie has moved past just the Ellingham mystery and is also trying to figure out what happened to Ellie. As curious as I am about what happened to the Ellingham's and who was behind it, I also got somewhat bored constantly waiting for Stevie to find historical evidence to "open the case" again. Instead, she now has to juggle her interest in the mystery with David's request for her to find out what has happened to Ellie. This was a smart move by the author because another entire book about the unknown Ellingham's would definitely have been boring. We also have some small but funny moment with other characters to keep us smiling as we read. Some of my favourites include Mudge explaining how he wants to work at Disney World (and the fun facts that we learn about Disney World because of his obsession), all the Stevie/Nate moments, and how Janelle’s uber-prepared for Halloween!
Felt More Juvenile This Time
Personally, I felt like The Vanishing Stair seemed more juvenile than its predecessor and this was a bit disappointing. Stevie can't seem to get past who David's father is, a fact that she's had time to process and also felt super trivial to me. It's clear that David doesn't like his father, so why does Stevie take so long to move past this?? It was frustrating to read the interactions between Stevie and literally anyone else, because for someone so smart, she seemed incredibly naive. I didn't notice this the first time, so either Stevie is becoming more simplistic or I just completely missed this aspect of her in the first book.
Other Characters Are Underdeveloped
It felt like pretty much everyone else in the book were just tag-along's to Stevie's story, so we are never given the chance to know them or care about them. Ellingham is supposed to be filled with brilliant teens, but we are given such little time with most of them that the school could be empty of all other students and Stevie's life really wouldn't change that much. I felt this way about the first book (Hayes died and it couldn't have mattered less to me), so it's a little frustrating that we are done the second book and there are still no character names that I know besides Stevie and David.
If you liked Truly Devious than I'd recommend picking up The Vanishing Stair so that you can continue trying to solve this mystery with Stevie. But if you haven't, or weren't a fan of the first book, than I don't think this the series for you. It's a fun YA mystery series, but they are definitely light books that unfortunately don't really develop any of the characters or emotions as much I'd like. Still, I am interested to see if Stevie solves the Ellingham mystery and what happened to Alice!
FINAL RATING: 3/5
Hi, I'm Alexandra! I love reading (largely YA fiction, but sometimes I'll read "adult" books), playing board games, Nutella, and binge-watching TV shows on Netflix with my husband.
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