Where is Alice Ellingham? Who Killed Hayes Major and Element Walker? Will Stevie Ever See Her Moose? Find Out in 'The Hand on the Wall'! | Blog Tour, Review, Favourite Quotes, Giveaway + Playlist: The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson

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All your burning Truly Devious questions are answered in The Hand on the Wall. And honestly? I could feel my heart beating constantly throughout this one! Maureen Johnson does it again. I'm an emotional mess. We've decided to stan for life. (Don't worry: this is mostly spoiler free.)

The Hand on the Wall (Truly Devious #3)

by Maureen Johnson
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: January 21st 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller
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New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson delivers the witty and pulse-pounding conclusion to the Truly Devious series as Stevie Bell solves the mystery that has haunted Ellingham Academy for over 75 years.
Ellingham Academy must be cursed. Three people are now dead. One, a victim of either a prank gone wrong or a murder. Another, dead by misadventure. And now, an accident in Burlington has claimed another life. All three in the wrong place at the wrong time. All at the exact moment of Stevie’s greatest triumph . . .
She knows who Truly Devious is. She’s solved it. The greatest case of the century.
At least, she thinks she has. With this latest tragedy, it’s hard to concentrate on the past. Not only has someone died in town, but David disappeared of his own free will and is up to something. Stevie is sure that somehow—somehow—all these things connect. The three deaths in the present. The deaths in the past. The missing Alice Ellingham and the missing David Eastman. Somewhere in this place of riddles and puzzles there must be answers.
Then another accident occurs as a massive storm heads toward Vermont. This is too much for the parents and administrators. Ellingham Academy is evacuated. Obviously, it’s time for Stevie to do something stupid. It’s time to stay on the mountain and face the storm—and a murderer.
In the tantalizing finale to the Truly Devious trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson expertly tangles her dual narrative threads and ignites an explosive end for all who’ve walked through Ellingham Academy.

Other Books in the Trilogy:  

The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson
Rating: ★★★★★
As always, a copy of this book was provided by the authors in exchange for my honest review. This does not effect my opinion in any way. 

OH MY GOD. Oh my GOD???? How is Truly Devious over? Grab me a tissue or something because Maureen Johnson really is out her making me have an emotion (as our beloved Nate would say) and it is a lot. I may have swooned, cried, screamed and inched out of my seat a lot, but it was all in good fun. I feel exhilarated. I feel like I'm floating. I'm going to need at least three weeks to process my emotions.

First things first: I'm never going to forget this trilogy because it's just so brilliantly mysterious and fun. It's also one of those rare ones that not only came from an author I've been reading for much of my reading life, but it is a series that I've followed since the ARC of its very first installment. The Hand on the Wall is the conclusion that this trilogy deserves and so very satisfying.

Going into the novel, I felt certain of two things: there was more to the central mysteries and I had a solid theory. Solid adjacent, anyways, because I honestly had a lot of theories and was four seconds away from making a board of said theories. (Stevie is a character I relate to and as someone who writes true crime, I'm sure you can see why I connect with her.)

None of my theories panned out except for one. Which was a very minor detail. Yet, this is what was the most satisfying end to the series. My imagination stretches far and wide, but even I didn't see one twist coming. Johnson never fails in twisting the plotlines and the central mysteries in Truly Devious; making it refreshingly modern and seemingly classic in tone. Many of us readers enjoy a classic detective romp, and The Hand on the Wall fits the bill.

Split POVs between the 1930s vs. now add an extra boost to the way the plotlines play out. Not only does it do wonders for the atmosphere and suspense, it toys with us and leads us into an almost calm sense of knowledge. While Stevie's out there putting pieces of the puzzle together, we're right beside her watching as things click.

Things weren't quite as they seemed as the two narratives began to unravel; when it came to both the notorious Ellingham Murders/mystery of the 1930s and the modern day murders of Hayes Major and Element Walker. We came to know who wrote the Truly, Devious letter, who was behind Iris and Alice Ellingham's disappearance, but still questions lingered.

It is hard not to have questions when the secrets of Ellingham Academy echo in your ears and sting at your fingertips. Plagued by the mysteries of the past, this school's history is richly drawn out and remains enthralling as always. Behind the walls, lay secrets and lies, all of which are waiting to be told. If these walls could talk...   

The Vanishing Stair left us aching for the answers to our biggest questions: what really happened to Alice, then, and Hayes and Element, now. The Hand on the Wall unmasks the killer in a way that is smooth, expertly and perfectly paced. My heart was beating in tune to the passage of time on an old clock. Maureen Johnson has crafted a fantastic story of mysteries, boarding schools, murder, love and friendship--The Hand on the Wall is amongst her very best.

Favourite Quotes:

"I think I don't know what to think. I don't believe in conspiracies, usually, because people are generally too uncoordinated to pull off huge, complicated plots. But I also think that if a bunch of weird stuff happens in one place at one time, maybe those things might be connected."
Why: Nate is honestly one of my favourite characters in the trilogy because when things have gone to hell and back, he always comes in with this sort of blunt point. My line of thinking usually lands right, smack dab in the middle between Stevie and Nate in terms of mentality. 

"There is the mistaken notion that wealth makes people content. It does the opposite, generally. It stirs a hunger in many--and no matter what they eat, they will never be full." 
Why: As the novel concludes, this quote felt more and more relevant and that's all I'll say. 

"All good poems are warnings." 
Why: They just... are. And this quote is simple and effective.

"Never say sorry as a greeting." 
Why: This is, in fact, a good point. 

"Was this what murder was? Something simple that became complex?" 
Why: As someone who researches true crime, this quote just resonated with my mind quite quickly. It is something that is worth noting. Especially given the outcome of this novel.

"It wasn't the severity of the thing; it was the why. Why do it?" 

"The wonderful thing about reality is that it is highly flexible. One minute, all is doom, the next, everything is abloom with possibility." 

"I think you're working out your business," he said. "We all have business. Like, I know I can write because I wrote something one time. But I think I can't write again because I'm scared. I'm scared that what I write down won't be as good as what's in my head. Because I don't know how I do it, only that it happens. And because I'm lazy. We've all got doubts." 
Why: Nate is at it again. Writers. 

"That people lies was nothing of particular interest. It's not the lie itself that matters--it's why the lie happened. Some, like Leo, lied for fun. You could have some excellent evening with a god lie. But most people lied to hide things. If it was as simple as a love affair--well, no one would have minded that." 
Why: Leo, and his flashback presence, is a very intriguing character in general. This quote just... clicks. 

"Anxiety does not ask your permission. Anxiety does not come when expected. It's very rude. It barges in at the strangest moments, stopping all activity, focusing everything on itself. It sucks the air out of your lungs and scrambles the world." 
Why: This is not the first time that Maureen Johnson has captured the feeling of anxiety perfectly. It always hits you in the right way.


You guys already know that I take my music very seriously and get a bit rambly about it. The sounds I felt humming at the back of my mind whilst reading The Hand on the Wall were very... particular. Songs like 'Birthday Suit' and 'Come Along' by Cosmo Sheldrake with their choppy, pulsing, upbeat and bizarre tones, felt easily right with the story.

Other bands I love fit so well with the tone of the series--Frightened Rabbit ('Holy') and Rainbow Kitten Surprise ('Devil Like Me' and 'Fail', I had to convince myself not to add more RKS to the playlist.).

There's this subtly chaotic edge to The Hand on the Wall that reminds me of 'Castaway' by Barns Courtney, 'CHAMPION' by Bishop Briggs and 'Glory and Gore' by Lorde. A few throwbacks, too, snuck their way into my mind whilst this playlist came together, such as 'Guts' by The Higher, 'All Over You' by The Spill Canvas

About Maureen Johnson

Maureen Johnson is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of several YA novels, including 13 Little Blue Envelopes, Suite Scarlett, The Name of the Star, and Truly Devious. She has also done collaborative works, such as Let It Snow (with John Green and Lauren Myracle), and The Bane Chronicles (with Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan). Her work has appeared in publications such as The New York Times, Buzzfeed, and The Guardian, and she has also served as a scriptwriter for EA Games. She has an MFA in Writing from Columbia University and lives in New York City.

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