Affiliate Links Used // Just in case anyone was wondering whether Maureen Johnson still had it, The Box In The Woods is the proof. Don’t fear if you’re worried about ruining the Truly Devious trilogy, trust me, this book only enhances it. This standalone is ten times better and the whole gang is here—except Vi who is on holiday in Vietnam.
Stevie is back. All hail our Quirky Queen using big brains to solve another cold case.
The Box In The Woods Blurb
Amateur sleuth Stevie Bell needs a good murder. After catching a killer at her high school, she’s back at home for a normal, boring summer. But then she gets a message from the owner of Sunny Pines, the home of the notorious unsolved case, the Box in the Woods Murders. Committed in 1978, the ‘Box In The Woods’ murders was where four camp counsellors were killed in the woods. The new owner offers Stevie an invitation. Come to the camp and help him work on a true-crime podcast about the case. Stevie agrees, as long as she can bring along her friends from Ellingham Academy.
Although this book is standalone, it feels very reminiscent of the rest of the Truly Devious series. Stevie, with her love for murder podcasts and reading about serial killers, is thrown back into our lives, and I’m so glad. The fact Carson, the owner of a company called Box Box is as fascinated with her as I am, made me smile. But, don’t get too excited about him because he’s hiding his plan for a podcast about true crime. Why, you wonder? Because this camp is the home of the Box in the Woods murders in 1978, a case which is still unsolved to this day. Carson has tried to get in with the locals, he has failed to mention his plan for a podcast, upsetting them immediately.
Thankfully, Stevie doesn’t get wrapped up in this all too much. She is seemingly unscathed and somewhat welcomed by the locals who begin telling their side of the story from that night.
“So,” Nate said, “What did we learn from tonight, class?”The Box in the woods, Maureen Johnson
What makes this book unique is that we will get the conclusion within this book. Unlike we did with Truly Devious. Stevie has to work extra hard because of the time constraints of summer, which aids this type of fast-paced storytelling.
After solving the unsolvable previously, Stevie is worried she’s a one-solve-wonder. Her dread and boredom is ruining her summer until the email comes. Thankfully, it all turns around, and she has reunited with the gang again. But, only Nate and Janelle have agreed to go with her. Vi is in Vietnam, and David is unsure if he’ll make it.
For those who didn’t love David all that much, he is in this book but in my opinion, he’s more redeeming. I’m not the biggest fan of him, but he’s less punch worthy and more considerate, and even in the few times we have Stevie and David interact, we can really see he cares. But, my only moan-point for the entire book is David…
I don’t know why I just… I love Nate and love Janelle, but David just bothers me a touch.
I’m not entirely sure it’s about being undeveloped, but rather that they seem like flirtatious friends rather than a full-blown couple. When it comes to Stevie, I’m not sure if I’d prefer her to be alone or for their relationship as a couple to have been a touch more developed. However, this is a tiny, tiny part. And the smallest grievance I have with the book, and the series has a whole. It really has very little effect on my love of the book itself.
“You’re staring at me,” David said, not turning his gaze. “Are you about to bite my face or something?”The box in the woods, Maureen Johnson
Janelle, as expected, is wonderful. She’s still desperate to know anything about crafting, and the summer away organising the arts and crafts section of the camp is right up her street. Nate is also around, still ignoring his book, and still stealing our hearts as he has done in the series.
Did I guess the ending? No. As always Maureen has a way of leaving you surprised and the ending is definitely unexpected. But, as always, beautifully executed. The tension and pacing are wonderfully balanced, similarly to how it has been done in the trilogy, with the mystery weaving in early on so we can get into the thick of the plot.
If you’re thinking of reading The Box in the Woods, I wholeheartedly recommend it. It’s a wonderful young adult mystery thriller that has humour, hearty friendships and quick-wit throughout. I’m not sure you need to read the Truly Devious series to enjoy this book, but I do think you’ll bond better with the characters. Especially as this murder is told over one book, compared to the three books the original is told over.
Really, I want more.
I’m greedy, though. I need more of Stevie, I’d love her to tackle a new ‘Box In The Woods’ short story every so often because it’s hard not to want more. She’s well developed, unique and interesting. The relationship between the group of friends is one I wish I had, their banter and inside jokes making you smile even in the middle of a murder investigation.
The Box in the Woods was an easy five out of five stars for me. I’m so glad Maureen Johnson graced us with another book, and I’ll treasure this the same as I have done with the trilogy.
10/10 would recommend.
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