Blog Tour + Review: The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson

After solving the case of Truly Devious, Stevie Bell investigates her first mystery outside of Ellingham Academy in this spine-chilling and hilarious stand-alone mystery from New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson.

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.

Title: The Box in the Woods
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: June 15th, 2021
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Contemporary
Targeted Age Range: Young Adult
Representation: Black supporting character, gay and lesbian minor characters
Trigger Warnings: Recreational drug use (weed), murder, dead bodies, mentions of blood, mentions of stabbing, guns, police, detailed descriptions of a crime scene and dead bodies (chapter 4), mentions of a car accident and death by car accident, mentioned death of a parent (cancer – chapter 8), mentions of drunk driving, underage drinking, smoking, gunfire (chapter 22), injury (broken arm, chapter 25), mentions of Nazis (chapter 28, chapter 29)
Rating:  ★★★★☆

After solving the 1930s Ellingham murders, Stevie Bell finds herself back home for a crime-solving-free summer. That is until she receives an email from the owner of camp Sunny Pines with an intriguing offer. Come to camp as a counselor with some of her friends and help him with a podcast about the Box in the Woods murders. In 1978 teenagers Sabrina, Todd, Diane, and Eric snuck out of their bunks and into the woods for a night of fun, but that night turned out to be their last. Intrigued by the case, Stevie agrees and ropes her friends Nate and Janelle into coming with her. Stevie and her friends expect a fun summer spent investigating a cold case and hanging out at summer camp. But once in the small town of Barlow Corners, Stevie realizes there’s more to this town than anticipated and the case is not as cold as she thought.

As someone who has really enjoyed the Truly Devious series, I was so happy when Maureen Johnson announced that there would be a fourth book in the series. With the Ellingham murders being solved in the third book, The Hand on the Wall, I was very excited about the fact that The Box in the Woods was about an entirely new case. The camp setting felt reminiscent of classic teen horror films that I love and it brought something fresh to the series. It was also really nice to read about Stevie, Nate and Janelle in a new setting. 

Just like the other books in the series, The Box in The Woods had a great mystery, some well-timed comedy and our young teenage sleuth outsmarting those around her. One of my favorite things about the series is that Stevie focuses on cold cases; the Ellingham murders took place in the 1930s, and the Box in the Woods murders took place in the 1970s. In my opinion, that adds an interesting dynamic to the story and makes the investigative work more exciting. 

I absolutely loved the duel timelines at the beginning of the book. Being able to read some chapters set in the 70s was so cool and helped me become more invested in the case as we were able to connect with the victims. Also, I personally am really into the 70’s aesthetic, and loved that Sabrina was a huge fan of Fleetwood Mac and the album Rumors as that’s one of my favorites. I would’ve liked more chapters set in the 70s, but with how everything played out it made sense that there weren’t more of them as that probably would’ve given too much away. 

I think my favorite thing about this book was that I really was not sure who was behind the Box in the Woods murders. Throughout the book I had some theories and ideas, but nothing concrete. There were clues that I knew were important and they definitely made my Spidey-senses tingle, but I couldn’t figure out why they were important and how everything fit together. Because of this, I went into the reveal as blind as the other characters and I loved that. Honestly, that doesn’t happen all that often for me and it always excites me when it does. I’m really looking forward to rereading now that I know what happened and picking up on all the clues that I missed. 

The Box in the Woods definitely made me want to go back and reread all the books in the Truly Devious series – which I probably will do soon. If you enjoyed the other books in the series, you will for sure enjoy this one. 

Links for The Box in the Woods: Goodreads | TheStoryGraph | Bookshop | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Book Depository


Enter to win one (1) finished copy of The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson! Open USA only. There will be 1 winner.

Giveaway starts: Tuesday, June 15, 2021
Giveaway ends: Tuesday, June 22, 2021 at 12:00 a.m. CST

Click here to enter. Good luck everyone!

Maureen Johnson is the #1 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 (now on Netflix), and several works in the Shadowhunter universe with Cassandra Clare. 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.

Follow Maureen: Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

6 thoughts on “Blog Tour + Review: The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson

  1. I just finished this book today, and it was great being back with Stevie. Johnson did a great job laying out that case. I definitely had no idea until they told me. I hope she keeps with this standalone format and has more adventures planned for Stevie.


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