Member Reviews

It's a rare thing for me to experience real fear while reading a book. Most of the time there's a sense of distance between myself and the events I'm reading (it's not like a book is going to jumpscare me the way a movie might). It turns out all I need to be absolutely terrified while reading is a well-written, horrific man in the 50s. The visceral feelings of claustrophobia and entrapment that plagued me while reading was something I've never gotten form a book before. While there are , of course, some horror supernatural elements to this story, the misogyny and abuse and feelings of helplessness experienced by our protagonist were so real and so possible it made me almost ill (complimentary!).

I liked our characters and the relationships between them (and I loved to hate/fear the bad ones). I thought the plot was interesting and the execution was well-done. I also liked the ending, even if I feel it didn't really match with the rest of the story.

TLDR; keep an eye on Paulette Kennedy, because this was a real winner.

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The Devil and Mrs. Davenport by Paulette Kennedy is a thriller about Loretta, who is married to Pete, a professor at a Bible college. When a local girl is murdered, Loretta starts seeing things that seem to be messages from girls who have already passed away. Pete thinks Loretta is crazy, but Loretta find s a parapsychologist that helps her understand what she's seeing. This book was fascinating. It was a mystery, thriller, and psychological study all in one. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks to NetGalley for the free digital review copy. All opinions are my own.

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Wow. What a book. I was first interested in this novel because it mentioned a woman in the 1950’s helping to solve a crime using her psychic abilities. Say less. I love this already.

This book was so much more than someone honing in her psychic abilities and helping a community solve a murder. So much more.

It was coated in historical fiction, the often times abused religious followers, the life of a woman in the 1950’s and how few rights they had.

It was captivating and heartbreaking and all too real. I loved this novel and I will be thinking about it for a long time.

The Devil and Mrs. Davenport left me feeling grateful for my freedom, for the awareness and accepting world of mental health, for the world of “feelers” to not be so foreign and taboo, and for a Christian church that doesn’t put the beliefs of a traveling evangelist over their own members.

This book was eye opening and so so good. Please check it out today, you might learn something.

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Paulette Kennedy has written a book that is focusing on mental illness in an unusual way. I appreciated the struggle of Loretta in the 1950s. I do think that it is realistic of both the times and the situation. There have been many books that attempt to describe the surreality of hallucinations, and I though this one did it in a way that was easy for the reader to apprehend and also feel some empathy for Loretta. This is a quick, easy read and the premise is interesting. I recommend it to anyone that is interested in historical fiction and gothic types of stories. Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to preview this book in exchange for an honest review.

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This book was great, it felt fresh and not like anything else I've read lately. It kept me intrigued all the way through, I didn't want to put it down.

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4.5 stars rounded up

It‘s fall of 1955 in Missouri, and Loretta Davenport has just had a bout of the flu when she starts hearing voices and seeing strange visions that seem to be connected to the disappearance of a young local girl. Her husband Peter, the perfect picture of a deeply religious, God-fearing man, is convinced something sinister is at work. But for Loretta, who met Peter when she was sixteen, dropped out of school, got married months later and had two children right away, these visions start to stir something in her - an awakening of a new purpose that her environment seems neither ready nor willing to accept.

For most of it, this spellbinding, haunting and beautiful book was a five-star read for me. It is well-written, and the author does a superb job of making Loretta‘s domestic confinement feel suffocating. While there were definitely gothic undertones and some tense moments, this is not a horror story, but a thoughtful meditation on a life overshadowed by a controlling, abusive spouse, as well as the restrictions placed upon women in general, and uneducated homemakers in particular, during that time.

Unfortunately, and in stark contrast to that, the last few chapters were too over the top for my liking, the final resolution coming on suddenly and being too neat and easy. Because of that ending, I probably would have rounded down to a four-star review; however, since the epilogue at least contained a nice little twist, I decided to stick to my earlier five-star rating (rounded up).

Trigger warning for sexual assault, domestic violence, self-harm, and abortion.

Thank you to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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Have you ever had a premonition that came true?⁣

The first day of autumn brought the fever, and with the fever came the voices.⁣

It’s the 1950s and the devil has gotten a hold of Loretta Davenport. ⁣

When Loretta starts receiving messages from beyond, she realizes that she might be able to help people with her new “affliction”, but her controlling husband Pete thinks she’s just a hysterical female. He’ll have none of her nonsense - it’s distracting her from her wifely and motherly duties, of course.⁣

This is my second book by Paulette Kennedy and I absolutely LOVE her stories and her flawed but strong heroines! There’s always a little touch of gothic mystery and mystical elements that unite real life with clever and atmospheric plots driving the imagination to the most dark and deliciously wonderful places. ⁣

I really loved Loretta and how equally haunted and determined she is to take her new gifts and help others, while forging a path for herself in the world. The story intricately delves into so many themes including marriage, motherhood, religion, mediums and mental health - and the utterly insane way women were treated at that time. ⁣

Because who really is the devil anyway? Is it the voices in your head or is it the husband in your bed?

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The cover and title is what first caught my attention of this book and then I read the description and knew I had to request to read this immediately on NetGalley. Set in the 1950’s with some occult/supernatural elements? Yes please!

I really enjoyed Loretta as a lead female character. She was a well developed character which made reading about her journey all that more enjoyable. Her finding out about and learning how to use her clairvoyant abilities to help those that have passed was super interesting to read about. I wish we got to see more of that. Although I do feel like everything happened a little too conveniently for her. The ending was just a little too perfect and it just kind of fell flat for me. The start of the book had so much promise. I just feel like there was too much trying to happen in such a short amount of time. I think I wanted each plot point to be more fleshed out.

Also, what was the reason for the house crumbling and cracking around them day by the day? Was it a metaphor that Loretta and her husband Pete’s marriage was starting to show cracks and ended up eventually crumbling to the ground? (literally). I absolutely HATED Pete. Which is obviously a good thing because he was meant to be a horrible man. The things he did to her against her will and consent made me feel physically ill.

Without giving too much away, I did enjoy the other romance in this book. But as I said earlier, the ending was maybe a little too “happy-ending” for me?

Overall, I would recommend this book to those who enjoy gothic novels and are looking for a quick read. The authors note at the end is probably one of the best I’ve ever read.

*Thank you to NetGalley for this e-ARC. This is an honest review with my own thoughts and feelings*

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This is a book of survival, love and family dynamics, in a time when women’s rights were limited.
The storyline will take you on a roller coaster of emotions, how to cope when there is little help and a mother protecting her children.
The characters were diverse and wore their own story, children had different stories to tell about how to survive.
I loved Loretta’s strength and courage under the toughest of times, the 1950’s gave very little to women. Pete believes it is his right to be demanding and difficult towards his family.
Loretta had a gift and Pete did not support his wife, but look out when Loretta stands up for herself and her children!
An inspirational story of finding happiness and belonging under the most difficult of circumstances,

Thank you to Lake Union Publishing, NetGalley and the author for the opportunity to read this book.

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I think that The Devil and Mrs. Davenport was a great read! It had all of the vibes that I usually love and the story had me gripped from the beginning! Loretta Davenport was struggling to be the perfect wife and mother, but as the story progresses you see that there might be some other things that are going on underneath the surface. I haven't read anything else by this author, but now that I have read this, they will be on my radar!

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who loves thrillers, historical fiction, horror (on the light side I would say), and paranormal vibes.

Please do check the content warnings!

Thank you Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher and the author, for an ARC of this book, in exchange for an honest review.
I found "The Devil and Mrs. Davenport" by Paulette Kennedy to be an addictive, interesting & well written story that pulled me in right away & didn't let me go until it's ending.
Great storytelling & character development make this a compelling read.
It's a murder mystery/thriller with a paranormal twist.
I would definitely read another book by Ms. Kennedy.

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Quiet housewife meets the Twilight Zone, with a deadly twist. Kennedy did a great job of bringing everything to life, especially the historical setting and dynamic between each of the characters. I had chills running down my spine each time Loretta had a vision, they were just so vivid. It also broke my heart to see how she was treated be her overly religious husband, but I also know those views weren't entirely left in the 50s. The tension is high right from the start, and the story moves along smoothly, even through what should be duller moments of everyday life. There's just a thread that keeps tugging you along, cover to cover. If you enjoy thrillers mixed with a bit of women's fiction and paranormal, then you're going to want to grab this one!

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In The Devil and Mrs. Davenport by Paulette Kennedy, readers are transported to the early 1950s in Missouri, where the intricate lives of a small family unfold through the eyes of Loretta, the pastor's wife and university professor's spouse. Reminiscent of Shirley Jackson's southern gothic writing style, Kennedy crafts characters who evoke intense empathy or disdain in a spooky atmosphere. Against the backdrop of a small-town murder, Loretta's journey is both haunting and riveting as she grapples with newfound visions and voices, hinting at supernatural abilities. Amidst societal constraints imposed by her husband, Loretta finds solace and empowerment through her therapist, unraveling a tale of self-discovery amidst turmoil. Kennedy's adept storytelling and rich character development make The Devil and Mrs. Davenport a compelling read, earning it a solid four-star rating.

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Give me a minute to let my heart rate come down after this.

The Yellow Wallpaper but make it 1950s America. Our overworked and under appreciated housewife heroine, Loretta, has come down with an illness that left her with an eerie symptom — she can hear the voices of dead people.

A murder mystery/thriller with a paranormal twist, this book had me holding my breath awaiting what would happen to Loretta.

If you like your murder mysteries with a side of historical fiction and mental institutions, you need to read this.

Thank you NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for the e-arc!

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As much as I loved THE WITH OF TIN MOUNTAIN by this author I have to whole heartedly admit that this book is her best yet. It had me reading until the wee hours of the night. I literally did not want to put this book down. It will be in my top ten of the year I have no doubt.

A story of a family. What they go through. What the abuse of a man does to, not just his wife but his children. And not being able to just leave makes it all the more heartbreaking. In this day and time a woman had no rights. Unless she could prove beyond a doubt that her husband was cheating, abusing, or drinking, she would not be given a divorce. Women had NO RIGHTS. No credit cards. No bank account. Nothing in their names. They had to have the permission of a man, whether their husband, dad, brother, uncle or a distant relative, to open a checking account. Sad isn't it? It makes my skin crawl knowing that I was born during this time. That the women in my family possibly endured some of these things.

Loretta was married to Pete and they had two children. A boy Luke and a girl Charlotte. Pete was a professor at a college. He didn't allow Retta to work. She would not make him look bad in from of the other professors. His answer to everything. Retta had started getting some kind of powers. A kind of being able to see what happened to people who had died. Pete said it was from the devil. Retta thought it was maybe from god. I say it was just what it was. A gift.

When a young woman, a teen, went missing Retta was able to tell the police where to look for her body. Of course she had to do this in secret. Not give a name. But the girl's body was found. Who would have done such a horrific thing? How sad that this young lady was killed. Possibly buried alive.

Pete claims to be a very religious man but to me his is one of the worse human beings anyone can be. Of course he was doing what society allowed him to do for the most part. A man could have his wife put in an institution if he so chose. A place for mentally ill women. And all he had to do was say she needed the help. That is what happened in this story along with other things. But Loretta was a bit smarter than Pete gave her credit for. Yes she was very young when he married her. She didn't have a high school education. She was just a wife and mother. But she was smart. She was a good mother and a good wife. She was also gifted. She could write and write she did. I love a book about writing books, or in this case stories for a newspaper. But still...

This is a heartbreaking story that will bring you to tears. But it will also let you see what this woman did. What she went through and how she managed to get her life and the lives of her children on track. To pull herself up and do something important. To finally find a happiness that her and her children deserved.

I loved Retta. I hated Pete. I also loved Dr Curt Hansen. I loved meeting Barbara and Vera. They were very important to this story. Things got better for women after the late 60s and early 70s but I'm afraid that we are headed back to the times before if we are not careful...

Thank you #NetGalley, #PauletteKennedy, #LakeUnionAuthors, for this ARC. This is my own true thoughts about this wonderful book.

FIVE huge stars from me. Grab this one and devour it as I did. You won't regret it.

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Loretta has the perfect little life. She is a stay at home mom with 2 great kids and her husband is a teacher/professor at a Bible college. Then she gets sick with a fever.

After the fever she starts seeing things. Like a local girl that has gone missing. She actually feels and sees the girl being buried alive.

Husband Pete (the dickhead) thinks that she is just imagining things and she needs to pray more.
Loretta doesn't feel the same way. She wants to learn more of her condition and starts seeing a parapsychologist to help her learn more.

I'm so glad I was not a grown woman during the 1950's. Reading this I felt trapped with Loretta. She can not get a divorce from a dickhead without some crazy ass reasoning. She can not even open up a bank account without her husband or another man signing with her.

Booksource: Netgalley in exchange for review.

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Another fantastic read by Paulette Kennedy!
This book was such a page turner - the perfect combination of historical fiction, horror and mystery!

I was hooked into the story early in the beginning with great and easy to read writing style and fascinating plot that keep my eyes glued into my kindle!
The author definitely gives a thorough research to write this book that makes the readers feel transported back to the 1950s with Loretta.

I really enjoy my time following Loretta’s journey as she explore her new-found ability with Dr. Hansen as well as finding the courage to stand up for herself and save her kids.
Aside from that, I’m also intrigued with finding out the culprit behind the murder mystery and figuring out the identity of the real 'devil' in this story.

This story brings up several sensitive topics about how women was treated during the 1950s so I highly suggest checking out the trigger warnings below before reading this book.

Overall, this was a remarkable well written story that comes with a satisfying ending and justice for all the characters – a fitting end!
I will definitely keep an eye out for more books by this author in the future!

I received an advanced review copy for free through Netgalley, and I am leaving this review voluntarily. Huge thank you to the author and publisher!

⚠️ 𝐓𝐖: physical, emotional, sexual, and religious abuse; fatphobia; murder; self-harm; alcohol dependence; pregnancy; and abortion.

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Lorretta is a housewife with two kids. One day in 1955, she is sick and starts to hear voices. Lorretta begins to believe she can bring justice to a recent crime in her town, but her restrictive husband does not agree with her abilities.

I could not put this book down! Lorretta was an interesting character who dealt with her restrictive husband and the pressures of being a mother and a housewife. Throughout the book, I felt for her and was rooting for her success. I admired her growth throughout the book and saw how she was strong for her children and herself. This book had a perfect pace and great suspense. I did not see the ending coming, and really enjoyed the overall mystery throughout the book. Will definitely be reading Paulette Kennedy's other books!

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Paulette Kennedy’s The Devil and Mrs. Davenport is 1950’s domestic noir at its finest. Finely crafted and utterly compelling, The Devil and Mrs. Davenport manages to be a heart-racing page turner and delicious slow burner, all at the same time.

Set during a time when women were given few liberties within their own lives, The Devil and Mrs. Davenport tells the story of Loretta, a housewife and mother who begins experiencing psychic visions after an illness. Naturally, Loretta’s newly acquired skills pose a problem to Loretta’s strait-laced, controlling husband, Pete, who holds a theologian position at the local university. To him, this gift can only come from the Devil, and he is determined to rid it from Loretta at all costs.

When Loretta secretly begins working with a local psychologist to further explore her nascent sixth sense, she finds she may hold the clues to the recent death of a local girl, but she worries that Pete may take her children from her if he discovers she is dancing with the “Devil.”. With Pete determined to keep Loretta under his thumb and bent to his will, Loretta finds herself suffocating under the limitations of her life, desperate to find a way out.

I am typically not a fan of novels that contain supernatural elements, but they work so well in The Devil and Mrs. Davenport that I did not mind their presence here at all. This novel is first and foremost a tribute to the women of the 1950s who were often relegated to the roles of housewife and mother, and of which many found themselves trapped in abusive relationships with no escape due to the laws and conventions of the times. This novel expertly demonstrates how women were expected to stay in their lane and not make waves … but what happens when a woman, such as Loretta, is experiencing something larger than herself? What does it take for a woman to be taken seriously and viewed as a person in her own right beyond her role in the home? All of that and more is explored in the dazzling The Devil and Mrs. Davenport.

With an intriguing storyline, complex characters, and thought-provoking consequences, The Devil and Mrs. Davenport will appeal to those who enjoy suspenseful and atmospheric historical fiction novels.

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I must have accidentally requested this book as it's not a genre that I would chose to read. Apologies!

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