Review: The Vanishing Staircase by Maureen Johnson

vanishing stairGenre: YA, Mystery, Thriller


The Truly Devious case—an unsolved kidnapping and triple murder that rocked Ellingham Academy in 1936—has consumed Stevie for years. It’s the very reason she came to the academy. But then her classmate was murdered, and her parents quickly pull her out of school. For her safety, they say. She must move past this obsession with crime.

Stevie’s willing to do anything to get back to Ellingham, be back with her friends, and solve the Truly Devious case. Even if it means making a deal with the despicable Senator Edward King. And when Stevie finally returns, she also returns to David: the guy she kissed and the guy who lied about his identity—Edward King’s son.

But larger issues are at play. Where did the murderer hide? What’s the meaning of the riddle Albert Ellingham left behind? And what, exactly, is at stake in the Truly Devious affair? The Ellingham case isn’t just a piece of history—it’s a live wire into the present.

My Thoughts:

I am so angry at this book. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it. But man am I angry as hell. I re-read Truly Devious and loved it because it’s still awesome and manages to hold up to all the cynicism I’ve built up a year later.

I then rushed to read this novel, proceeded to only be able to figure out one mystery (Truly Devious) and missed out on the modern mystery.

This angers me. It also impresses me, because it means the plot is anything but predictable which I appreciate so much.

Stevie is as clever as ever and is learning that cleverness can’t always keep you out of danger. In fact, sometimes it’s the very trait that leads you into danger. And boy does it.

Also, boys can also lead you into danger. Somewhat. You’ll understand when you read the book.

But that cliffhanger! Are you seriously telling me that I have to wait until *checks calendar* an unknown date in 2020 for the next book?


In all honesty, I did love this book, and quite obviously I can’t wait for the next one. It’s a good mystery, with solid characters and a setting that makes me wish I could visit it (with great caution).

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