BOOK REVIEW – Truly Devious

Truly Devious by: Maureen Johnson – #1 in the Truly Devious trilogy!

AGE GROUP: 14 and up// GENRE: Fiction/ Mystery// AMOUNT OF PAGES: 416// RATING: 4.5/5



Ellingham Academy is a school directed towards students with brilliant minds and interests. The school welcomes varieties of students, such as artists, inventors, writers. The founder, Albert Ellingham, was a very rich and well known figure as is his school, but when his daughter and wife were kidnapped and the only clue to the frightening mystery was a riddle from Truly Devious, the school became notorious.

Decades after the kidnapping occurred, crime-obsessed Stevie Bell starts her first year at the school and is determined to solve the case. After meeting her new housemates Stevie is able to incorporate their talents with solving this case, but then Truly Devious returns to Ellingham Academy, as does murder. Will Stevie be able to solve these cases without getting into trouble herself, or has Truly Devious come to the Academy and once again gotten away with murder?


This. Book. Was. Freakin’. Amazing.

Hey guys! I don’t have any excuses for my lack of posting besides that I was so enthralled in my many books and I didn’t feel like collecting my thoughts to write a review.


The plot in Truly Devious was straightforward: Stevie Bell was determined to solve the Ellingham case. However, if that was the only plot line, this book would’ve been not nearly as captivating or unique as it was. Maureen Johnson decided to include riddles which were highly well written, flashbacks to that devastating day, and not to mention the book began with introducing Truly Devious a.k.a it started with a flashback to a murder. Also, Maureen Johnson included the death of one of Stevie’s classmates, causing the story line to grow, as well as making sure there was never a boring moment in this riveting tale.

I really loved how there were always so many twists and turns Stevie had to take to even put together one piece of evidence. The plot was filled with just the right kind of exuberance and momentum to keep me reading. I felt that every section of this book was well paced and so compelling!


Because the Ellingham school is unique, seeing as it is free and only accepts interesting people, such as writers, creators, coders, detectives, this makes for such a fun book; the characters are not so formulaic and neither is the plot.

My go-to genre is fantasy but recently I’ve found that the characters I come across in those kinds of books are way too similar. The primary love interest (because, yes, almost all fantasy books include relationships because the plot is neither strong nor good enough to create the book alone) is practically always a rigid, closed-off, handsome, family-problems-filled, guy, and the main character is always a snarky yet likeable teenage girl. I’ve just gotten so tired of reading these YA fantasy books that may have a relatively original plot but definitely don’t have originally sculpted characters. The reason why I love Harry Potter so much is just that: the characters throughout the whole series are not made out to be beautiful or handsome and they all have their own unique personalities. Granted, Harry Potter is not YA (young adult), it is for literally all ages but again, you can have really well-created characters in YA fantasy, but I haven’t entirely come across that yet.

I loved all of the characters because of their different interests and personalities. Nevertheless, although this book doesn’t revolve around romance at any point, there is just a little bit and, yes, the guy has black hair, is described as good looking from Stevie’s eyes, and has family issues. Actually, his parents are supposedly dead but he could be lying… Anyway, I’ve tried to get away from those awfully formulaic characters in YA fantasy by branching out and trying mysteries. I’m so glad I did because for now this is my new genre that I’ll be reading, thanks to One of Us is Lying but most definitely thanks to Truly Devious!


Johnson’s writing was smooth and when she took time to thoroughly describe scenes I loved it because the words flowed so nicely. I also loved how she wrote the dialogue because at parts it was quite funny and at others it was somber, but every page filled with dialogue was always thrilling to read! Maureen Johnson is definitely a writer that I’ll come back to each time she releases a new novel, like the second Truly Devious book which is coming on January 22 (TWO DAYS) and I CANNOT WAIT! The cliffhanger was just too much for me! I NEED MORE!


Well. Overall, I was so impressed with this murder mystery and I cannot wait to read the second book called The Vanishing Stair. In Truly Devious I thought the characters were fantastic, the plot was so captivating, and I loved the writing! I’m beyond thrilled that I’ve found this trilogy and I cannot wait to see where The Vanishing Stair leaves Stevie and the Ellingham mystery. Maureen Johnson is my introduction to fabulous murder mysteries!!😍



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