BOOK REVIEW: The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson


Title: The Box in the Woods
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publication: June 15, 2021
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: Teen, YA Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 398


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SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads)

Amateur sleuth Stevie Bell needs a good murder. After catching a killer at her high school, she’s back at home for a normal (that means boring) summer.

But then she gets a message from the owner of Sunny Pines, formerly known as Camp Wonder Falls–the site of the notorious unsolved case, the Box in the Woods Murders. Back in 1978, four camp counselors were killed in the woods outside of the town of Barlow Corners, their bodies left in a gruesome display. 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. Nothing sounds better than a summer spent together, investigating old murders.

But something evil still lurks in Barlow Corners. When Stevie opens the lid on this long-dormant case, she gets much more than she bargained for. The Box in the Woods will make room for more victims. This time, Stevie may not make it out alive.


I’ve officially read all the books in the Truly Devious series, so I had to continue on with this stand-alone novel by Maureen Johnson, but with all my favorite Truly Devious characters. Johnson did not disappoint yet again!

The Box in the Woods follows Stevie to a summer camp run by some millionaire who bought it for the sole purpose of creating a documentary because of a long ago unsolved murder that happen there. Also, it is a functioning camp. So imagine trying to solve a murder with a bunch of tiny humans running around. Not fun! Stevie ropes all her friends into going too and we get to experience all the chaos that ensues whenever they are together.

The characters grew up a little in this book. We had long distance relationships happening, and we learned a lot more about Nate. I love Nate. He is me in boy form. I find him hilarious and I love how Johnson peels back his layers to allow him and Stevie to continue to grow closer as friends.

I felt this story was a bit more about Stevie and her growing up a bit compared to her solving a murder. That was definitely a focus in the book, but it didn’t really come across as the most important part of the story like the Truly Devious murders did. I think that is the only reason I didn’t give this book a five-star review. I wanted a bit more urgency and deep dive into this case like we saw when she was trying to solve the school murders.

Otherwise the story flowed pretty well and I really enjoyed the older characters who were still around from when the original crime happened. They were interesting and added a lot of depth to the story. I hope we get to continue to read stories about Stevie and her group of friends. They are my absolute favorite and Maureen Johnson has pure gold in their character development. Let’s go to college with them!

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