Release date: January 16th, 2018
Dates read: December 21st-26th, 2017
Rating: ★ ★ ★ / 5 Stars
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.
The two interwoven mysteries of this first book in the Truly Devious series dovetail brilliantly, and Stevie Bell will continue her relentless quest for the murderers in books two and three.
Thanks to EpicReads Insiders for letting me read an e-ARC of this book!
Spoiler-free review section:
I know I’m in the minority here, but I had some pretty mixed feelings about this book. I went in expecting to love it, and overall I enjoyed it, but I did have some issues with the structure of the story. The book had an amazing premise – an old boarding school with a mysterious past that returns, a main character determined to solve the mystery of the school, creepy secret passageways – but I feel like the actual story didn’t live up to its premise. The beginning was amazing and set up a really cool story, but it kind of just…fell flat for me. There wasn’t much action or crime-solving at all. There were also a lot of character who I couldn’t really keep track of because most of them weren’t all that interesting. I also felt like this book was just a lot of set up for the second book. A lot of cool things were introduced that I expected to play out into something, but they were left open-ended for the next book. I feel like if some of these things had been explored in this book instead of being saved for the next one, it would have had a bit more substance. However, I did end up enjoying this book because I did like the main character, Stevie, and a few of the other side characters. There was also good representation of Stevie’s mental health issues and medication. The story was compelling and I flew through it, and although it didn’t go as in-depth with the mystery as I wanted it to, it was still enjoyable to read, and I’m definitely going to pick up the next book.
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