The Vanishing Stair

The Vanishing Stair

Book - 2019 | First edition.
Average Rating:
Rate this:
When Stevie Bell is finally able to return to Ellingham Academy after identifying the culprit in the murder of a classmate, she begins to wonder if the case was really resolved and attempts to uncover the truth about the school's founder.
Publisher: New York, NY : Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2019]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780062338082
Characteristics: 373 pages : map ; 22 cm.


Featured Blogs and Events

New Mysteries and Thrillers for Teens

Hello dear readers. If you thought that the case went cold for Maureen Johnson's Truly Devious series, think again. The third book in the series The Hand On the Wall is almost out! But as we wait most impatiently for its arrival we have a few teen mystery novels that might help you kill some time meanwhile. If you haven't read Maureen Johnson's Truly Devious I suggest you get a copy fast.… (more)

From Library Staff

In the sequel to Truly Devious, teen detective Stevie Bell investigates the murders that have taken place on the campus of Ellingham Academy. Satisfying teen mysteries are tough to find, so don’t miss this page-turner series!

In the sequel to Truly Devious, teen detective Stevie Bell investigates the murders that have taken place on the campus of Ellingham Academy. Satisfying teen mysteries are tough to find, so don’t miss this page-turner series!

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
May 05, 2021

In the second book, Stevie has "figured out" who killed Hayes, but again, as a reader, you're left wondering, did she get the actual culprit?

And, whoever admitted Stevie to the school in the first place has yet to reveal his/her agenda, regarding the old Truly Devious case -- which Stevie still hasn't gotten much closer to solving.

Was the alleged murderer and fellow genius student, Ellie, actually capable of creating the circumstances that killed Hayes?

The water's muddied when Stevie's parents take her out of the school, and it takes mysteriously hot David's repugnantly conservative Congressman father to convince her parents to let her back in.

Ellie ran away at the end of the first book, and she's missing in the latest narrative until Stevie finds her body in the tunnels below the school. Did she get lost in the tunnels and starve to death? Or is this more than an accident?

In addition, you keep learning about the events of 1936, this time from other characters' points of view, so it's helpful to have the first book nearby to compare notes / clues. You learn the man accused of the killings is himself shot and killed on the eve of being tried, and his death is another big mystery to be solved.

And now, Stevie's working for -- or against? -- a Dr. Fenton, who's already written one book about the murders and claims to have evidence that will blow the case wide-open.

Stevie's got her overly-complicated budding romantic feelings for David to contend with, as well.

She thinks she figures out who Truly Devious was, but now she questions if the note was ever related to the kidnappings at all.

I won't spoil all the plot twists and turns. We enjoyed these exquisitely plotted mysteries!

Apr 06, 2021

I enjoyed this book very much! After reading “Truly, Devious” (the first book in this trilogy), I instantly had to read this and am looking forward to reading the third book, “The Hand on the Wall”. I loved everything about it. I don’t understand why I just heard of this book series – it’s fantastic! After Stevie gets adjusted to the Ellingham Academy ways, she continues to solve the 80-year-old murders that once occurred there. In the process, she discovers much more than she could ever imagine; not mentioning the mysterious present murders that start occurring at the secluded Ellingham Academy. If you have read “Truly, Devious” you need to read this sequel. I recommend to everyone looking for a mysterious, romantic and all over binge worthy book. 5/5
@butterflyreads of the Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

Sep 28, 2020

Stevie has made a deal with the devil in the form of Senator Edward King, David's father and is back at Ellingham Academy. Once again, she is investigating the 1936 kidnapping/murder case, but this time, she is also trying to figure out what happened to Ellie, who was suspected of having something to do with the death of Hayes Major. When Stevie confronted her, she ran and mysteriously disappeared. Stevie also isn't putting much effort into catching up on the school work that she missed while she was home because she now has more important things to do. Dr. Irene Fenton who wrote the first book on the kidnapping/murder case from 1936 is about to publish an updated version and has hired Stevie to do research using materials in the attic of the Great Hall at Ellingham Academy to which she does not have access. With her new assignment, she has promised Larry, the intuitive security chief that she won't investigate any more of the tunnels, but it isn't long before she breaks her promise and finds something she doesn't expect.
The Vanishing Stair begins to bring together clues that connect the past to the present, all the while showing us, through Stevie, the damage that can be done when an investigation reveals evidence that hurts people. There is some humor in the story, such as David releasing dozens of squirrels in the library in order to get Stevie's attention, but it is often cleverly used to show much deeper emotions of the characters. Overall, this is a very well-written young adult mystery and an excellent second book in the Truly Devious series.

Sep 18, 2020

Sequel to Truly Devious

pacl_teens Sep 11, 2020

The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson is a page-turning sequel to Truly Devious! This book picks up right where the first book left off. After Stevie’s parents find out about the death of her classmate they make the decision to pull her from the school. Stevie is devastated but after making a deal with the “devil”, Senator Edward King, she is able to return to Ellingham academy. When she returns she realizes that she has two cases that she now needs to solve. Stevie quickly learns that after her return things at the academy have changed, but that does not necessarily mean it’s a good thing.

Generally, authors have a hard time making an interesting sequel especially if the first book was a big hit and this book is definitely not that type of book. I personally think that this book was better than the first book and I enjoyed it a lot more. Since we already know the case and the events of the last book we immediately jump into the action which is something that I adore. I felt very connected to the characters since I had already known them from the previous novel. I liked that this book was able to go deeper into the original case from the first book and solve it. From this book, I got a stronger sense of closure than the first one.

Overall, this book is an amazing mystery sequel! If you liked the first one I recommend reading this one as well. -Eunchae, Grade 10


This book, guys. This series, seriously. I don't even know what I'm feeling right now, but I'm going to write until I figure it out I guess.

The Vanishing Stair picks up right where Truly Devious leaves off, so spoilers from this point forward - don't read this if you haven't read the first book! Stevie has been sent home from Ellingham, and she's devastated. She knows who David's father is, Ellie is missing, Hayes is dead, and her involvement landed her in the papers and in hot water with her parents. When Edward King comes to call and gives Stevie a proposition she can't refuse, she finds herself back at school, where the mystery is only deepening, on multiple levels. Stevie has two cases to crack between the 1936 kidnapping of Iris and Alice and Hayes' death and Ellie's subsequent disappearance, and things are only going to get more interesting...

Once again, my hat goes off to Maureen Johnson. This was so utterly addictive and thoughtfully written. Every time a clue or a reveal is happening, I just have to sit back and go over everything in my head to reconnect the dots, and that feeling of "ohhhhhhh my god" is so much fricken fun. I love having no idea where things are going, because I truly, truly feel like I don't with this series.

Stevie is once again a strong, complex lead character. She's still dealing with her anxiety and with the demons of her past, but she's so committed to the cases she's dealing with, so invested in solving them and finding closure, and that drive really showed in this book. She was in real detective mode, especially at the very end, and I felt like I just wanted to crawl inside her head and piece together what she was slowly working her way towards.

And, just like last time, that supporting cast is SO ON POINT. A particular relationship that I loved this time was between Vi and Jenelle. The non-binary rep is wonderful, and witnessing both of them going googly-eyed over each other just made me want to die from happiness. And Nate. I love Nate. I will never stop loving Nate. I was laughing out loud at some of his comments and I truly feel like I need him in my everyday life because his storm cloud-facade just made every scene he was in brighter.

There were some more romancey elements here this time, but they just worked with the story so well. What could have become a triangle didn't really feel like one; David and Hunter are so different, and Stevie, though curious, never verges into the weird love triangle territory (thank god). David is interesting, and I see the appeal, but I also always feel like shaking Stevie and telling her that she's better off on her badass own because her mind is incredible and nobody's got time for a boy to swoop in and take it away from the things that really matter.

The ending is what really gets me about this one. HOW DO I SURVIVE THE WAIT UNTIL THE NEXT ONE??!! I have so many questions that need answering, so many thoughts and theories that are just a messy jumble in my head right now and I just...I want to know. I WANT TO KNOW, OKAY?

I guess I'll go dive into some fantasy to reset my brain because I don't know how I'm going to leave these characters behind. My god did I love this.

Gina_Vee Feb 05, 2020

This was a great second book in the series! I'm going to try to write this without spoilers. More story and plot is definitely involved and reasonings for things are revealed. The riddles still confuse me a little, but to the careful reader, it'll make perfect sense. Shocking moves and history is revealed, and you might think you have all the answers towards the end of the book... but you don't. I'm definitely excited to read book three next. I love that preferred pronouns are used. I actually hated the uneasy feeling you get at the end of the novel, but only because I was hoping for all the answers even though I know it's a trilogy. I cried over a character I won't name or state what happened to he/she/them because spoilers. I laughed because the past characters are given a lot more personality in this book and it's delightful. Overall, a great, worthy, and worthwhile second book in the series.

Sep 10, 2019

I have to say that I enjoyed this book (book 2) in the series more than I enjoyed book 1 Truly Devious. In the first book we are introduced to Stevie Bell and her classmates, and I remember feeling super frustrated while reading that book because I only wanted to know about the 'Truly Devious' mystery. I remember not caring for Stevie Bells character because I felt at the time that her character had no 'reason' for being involved in the 'Truly Devious' case. I felt that her and her classmates were kind of random and just off topic. Now after reading book 2 and finally seeing that Stevie Bell is actually working towards finding out the mysteries of the Ellingham kidnappings, I kind of really like and appreciate her character! I actually preferred her character setting in this book over the flashback sequences this time, which was the complete opposite of my opinion for book 1. I think after reading book 2 I could probably go back and read book 1 and have a completely different opinion of the novel than I had originally, because book 2 is definitely better than book 1. There is more romance in book 2 than book 1, a better mystery in my opinion in Stevie Bells time and there were finally some answer about who 'Truly Devious' really was, and it was NOT what I was expecting at all! The last book "The Hand on the Wall" comes out in January 2020, and I can't wait for this story to finally be concluded and for all of my questions to finally be answered.

Jul 17, 2019

This book kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time! I loved jumping between the past and the present which definitely kept the story interesting. The sequel was just as good as the first, if not better, with intriguing mysteries that kept me immersed in the book the whole time. I definitely recommend reading this, and the author did a great job subtlely recapping the last book in order to update the reader! I hope there's a third book coming out.

ArapahoeTiegan Jun 17, 2019

The mystery has gotten even more intriguing! This book ended way too fast and now I am upset at having to wait for book three..

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability
Feb 06, 2020

bearitc thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Gina_Vee Feb 05, 2020

Gina_Vee thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


Add Notices
Gina_Vee Feb 05, 2020

Other: There is more PDA... though the location of said PDA actually isn't very public, and said PDA is not enough to fit into the Sexual Content category for some.

Gina_Vee Feb 05, 2020

Coarse Language: There is more cursing in this book than the first.


Add a Quote

All the money, all the power—none of it compares to a good book. A book gives you everything. It gives you a window into other souls, other worlds.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at CPL

To Top