Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1) Review



Title: Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1)
Maureen Johnson
YA, Mystery
Audiobook, 10 Hours 13 Minutes
Goodreads page

“Look! A riddle! Time for fun!
Should we use a rope or gun?
Knives are sharp and gleam so pretty
Poison’s slow, which is a pity
Fire is festive, drowning’s slow
Hanging’s a ropy way to go
A broken head, a nasty fall
A car colliding with a wall
Bombs make a very jolly noise
Such ways to punish naughty boys!
What shall we use? We can’t decide.
Just like you cannot run or hide.
Ha ha.

This was a re-read I did before picking up the sequel, The Vanishing Stair, later this month!


In 1930 the founder, Albert Ellingham, received a mysterious ransom note and his wife and daughter were kidnapped. Their murders, and the murder of one of the school’s students, were never solved.

Now, Stevie Bell has just been admitted to the prestigious academy. She is a true-crime aficionado who is determined to solve the cold case. But mysterious things start happening at the school. Is Truly Devious back again?


This book is a solid 3.5 stars – I really like this story, it’s just not love.

This is told in alternating timelines – flashes back to 1930 on the day of the kidnapping, and today from Stevie’s point of view.

This book ends on a pretty series cliffhanger! And pretty much nothing that is introduced is wrapped up. Just a little PSA for those of you who really hate cliffhangers. This might be a series you pick up once it’s all released.

Content Warnings: Murder, kidnapping, anxiety, panic attacks.

Things I Liked

  1. I really liked the alternating timeline format for this book! It gave the reader a lot of insight and knowledge into the past without simply info dumping it.
  2. I found the anxiety rep in here to be extremely well done. Johnson’s descriptions of anxiety and panic attacks were so accurate and relatable.
  3. The awkwardness of the interactions was… uncomfortable at times. But also refreshingly realistic. Sometimes I actually forget I’m reading YA because the characters read like adults. But in this, the characters definitely read like teenagers which I appreciated. They are awkward and clumsy, and have no idea how to talk to each other.
  4. The mystery of this really has my attention and is why I’m so excited for the sequel! I need to know what is in the box!!

Things I Didn’t Like

  1. While I appreciated the awkwardness of the characters it also made it so hard for me to connect with them. And my main gripe with this book is my lack of connection to a single character. I just don’t feel like any one character has enough to them for me to latch onto. They’re all relatively one dimensional.
  2. This book is completely devoid of wrap up. Yes, I know it’s a series. But that cliffhanger was just so sudden and abrupt. It makes reading the series as it’s released tricky because you can easily forget all the small, open threads.

Overall this is solid YA mystery. If you’re new to mysteries this would be a great place to start!


10 thoughts on “Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1) Review

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