Truly Devious Review | IT SPARKED A PHASE

Hi friends! I’m back with yet another review, and I have a bit of a confession to make:

Ahem. *taps mic* Due to this book and a strange new obsession with Buzzfeed Unsolved and Criminal Minds, a true crime phase has begun.

I’M NOT  MURDERING PEOPLE I PROMISE. I’m just interested in watching other people solve (or try to solve) crimes…who knows maybe I’ll pursue a career in criminal investigation or journalism when I’m older and it’s all thanks to these sources.



Author Maureen Johnson weaves a tale of murder and mystery in the first book of a new series.

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.

My Thoughts

Trigger Warnings for murder, anxiety, panic attacks, loss of a child. Hopefully I didn”t miss anything but please be careful!

The Writing!

Maureen Johnson’s writing style is so fast-paced like Holly Black’s! This is the first book I’ve ever read of hers and I doubt it will be the last*. I felt like I really flew through the chapters while easily retaining information. AND there were flashbacks and interview reports scattered through to spice things up!

*although I may die prematurely…eh I’ll go down fighting FOR ONE MORE CHAPTER

The Characters!

STEVIE IS THE BEST. She’s so obsessed with true crime it literally makes my day. And fuels my own obsession. And she’s level-headed, clever, but still a real teenager. Why there aren’t more real teenagers out there I ask? I go to fiction to escape reality but I also need it, thank you very much.

supernatural yes thumbs up

I also adored Janelle and Nate, they were both so different but amazing? Literally everyone had different personalities that are so quirky and brilliant and developed and real. Although, David I don’t really know. And he creeps me out. And Ellie just plain annoys me*.

*if you’re new here I often contradict myself it’s a personality quirk (flaw)

doctor who matt smith.gif

The Plot!

I LOVE mysteries but for some strange reason YA mysteries aren’t very…suspenseful? They’re mostly all about random drama with the mystery second. Luckily Truly Devious surprised me in the second best possible way* by not suffering from this problem! I definitely felt like the entire mystery as a whole was slow, but because of the flashbacks and the actually interesting relationships of the characters I didn’t even mind that the real thing didn’t even start until the halfway point! Anyway, I wasn’t hugely shocked while reading it but I was entertained. AND there’s going to be two more books that I’m sure are packed with plot plot twists twists** so yay!

*first best would be to drag me into the story and I get a huge library and endless cookies

I really enjoyed almost everything about this novel, and it totally lived up to the hype! Have you read this yet? Isn’t that cover beautifully blue? Do you want to read this? What other good YA mysteries would you recommend? Catch ya later, au revoir!

4.5 secret tunnels


5 thoughts on “Truly Devious Review | IT SPARKED A PHASE

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