Cover Image: The Devil and Mrs. Davenport

The Devil and Mrs. Davenport

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Member Reviews

This book was a complete surprise! Let me start by saying that the books cover did not grab my attention which is something I normally go by when deciding what to read. And since I hadn’t read the synopsis or any blurbs, I was going in very unaware of what the book was going to be about. I just knew that I had read Paulette Kennedy’s other book, The Witch of Tin Mountain, and was so impressed that I figured I couldn’t go wrong with reading this. And WOW, The Devil and Mrs. Davenport definitely did not disappoint! It was such a great read! I’m thinking it’s one of my favorite books that I’ve read this year. The story takes place in the 1950’s in a small town in Missouri. It centers around Loretta Davenport, a wife and mother who lives a rather bland and lonely life. Her husband Pete, who is a professor at a religious campus, is a very demanding and controlling husband. After Loretta becomes ill with flu-like symptoms, she starts experiencing psychic abilities. Along with the help of her doctor, she begins to assist the police in solving some of the local crimes. I found this story so interesting that I had a hard time setting it down to get any of my daily chores done. Between the supernatural aspects of communicating with spirits, the historical timeline and the mystery surrounding the crimes, I thought it was a phenomenal read. I’d like to thank Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for the arc that I received off the Read Now section. I’m giving this a 5 star rating and will be recommending it to all of my reading friends. I plan to get a physical copy to add to my home library and I look forward to reading more by Paulette Kennedy in the very near future.

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I've read (and loved) the author's previous two books. This one was one of my most anticipated books of 2024. It didn't disappoint.

In this story, we follow Loretta Davenport in 1955 as she deals with her newfound supernatural gifts while also trying to survive an abusive marriage.

I was hooked from the first line and almost immediately invested in Loretta's story. The author does an excellent job of taking her readers into different points in history. Her depiction of the 1950s seems well researched and realistic. The characters, especially Loretta, were well written and believable.

This is a book that will be hard to put down once you've started. I think it says something when a book can elicit emotions from the reader. This was one of those books. Some characters were so infuriating. Check trigger warnings as some parts were hard to read. That said, I really appreciate the author adding in a character like Dr Hansen. He was a great addition to the story.

Although this book was entertaining, I really liked that it had an underlying message. I think stories like this need to be told, especially in the time we live in. The author's note touches on this further, I'd suggest reading it too.

I loved this story and I can see myself coming back to it again and again. If you're like me and you can't get enough of gothic fiction, then this book is for you.

I'd also recommend this to anyone, especially those who enjoy the work of Shirley Jackson or Daphne du Maurier.

Thank you to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC for review. All opinions are my own.

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Set in 1955 Missouri. Loretta Davenport, a housewife and mother of two, gets a fever. After she's recoverd she realizes she can communicate with the dead. She continues to investigate her newly found ability with the help of a parapsychologist Dr. Hansen. She helps the police to find the body of a girl who recently disappeared. Loretta's husband Pete is a religious, controlling man, who does not like what's happening to her. Their life together grows strained and at the same time the home they live in begins to show cracks.

This was an interesting book to read. I learned a lot about homemakers in the midcentury America. The story was menacing from the start, and the atmosphere kept getting darker and darker. There were passages that were truly painful for me to read. Loretta was so naive, having lost her mother when she was just a child, and also for having married young. It was nice to see her waking from slumber and trying to find a new way of life for herself and her children. I did not really like any of the characters in this book, but they were really just products of their society and time.

The author's note in the end is a great read. You can really see her appreciation of homemakers and love of Shirley Jackson in the book.

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This was a super interesting, compelling, at times disturbing book. NetGalley had listed the genres as general fiction and women’s fiction, but with the supernatural elements it was definitely more than that. The most disturbing parts were not the supernatural, but the things you know actually happened to women in this time period. The knowledge that many women were committed to psychiatric hospitals against their will solely for the purpose of getting rid of them is terrifying.
I enjoyed all the characters. Loretta is someone you can really root for and her husband really transforms from a questionable 1950’s husband into a full blown monster. The psychic bits were really interesting and well done, but I do feel like there’s not much closure on the kids’ psychic powers. It seems like all the physical stuff that happens to the house would be more likely attributable to the son, but it’s never addressed.
The author did a great job with what she calls feminist gothic literature. That categorization seems pretty accurate. I’d definitely consider checking out more by this author in the future.
Thank you to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for providing me access to this eARC for my honest opinion!

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I found myself immersed in the setting of 1950s Missouri, where Loretta Davenport navigates her life as a devoted wife to Pete, a Bible professor, relinquishing her journalism aspirations to raise a family.

Following a severe fever, Loretta's reality becomes blurred with hallucinations and auditory experiences, including voices from the beyond. When a local girl is found murdered, Loretta's unique ability proves instrumental in unraveling the mystery.

Despite Pete's dismissal of her encounters as mere figments of imagination or “the devil’s work”, Loretta bravely seeks help from para-psychologist Dr. Curtis, who perceives her talents as a blessing rather than a curse. Throughout the narrative, Loretta undergoes a profound transformation, shedding societal constraints to embrace her authentic self.

The story is captivating with its blend of mystery, suspense, and unforeseen plot twists. While some aspects of the story were predictable, others caught me off guard, keeping me engrossed until the final page.

I thoroughly appreciated the author's narrative approach, skilfully balancing suspense and revelation, allowing me to remain engaged while teasing out my own interpretations of the unfolding events.

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Rating 5/5 stars

Like most books I read, I went into this completely blind. I have other books by the author, Paulette Kennedy, but haven't had a chance to read them yet.

We follow Loretta Davenport - wife, mother, and new medium? This is the 1950s when women were often expected to stay home, do what they're told and maintain the image of perfection. Pete, her husband, is a professor at a Bible college and believes her gift is of the devil. As Loretta develops her skill with the help of a parapsychologist, Pete becomes more and more controlling, forbidding her from seeing the doctor and taking the car so that Loretta can't leave the house. We start to see the cracks in their relationship. We also see the strength and confidence Loretta gains as she continues to see her psychologist and uses her gift to help the dead.

I LOVED this book! I couldn't put this down once we got through the setup. And it's such an important read for women. While the plot has supernatural elements, the life Loretta lives is one that many women have lived through and will continue to live.

Check the CW because this book touches on all levels of abuse, gaslighting, assault, death, etc.

If you need a little domestic horror set in the past and feel like rooting for an incredible woman, I would highly recommend The Devil & Mrs. Davenport! I can't wait to read more of Kennedy's books.

Thank you to Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for providing an ARC! All thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

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I never knew until recently that I could like horror/paranormal literature--until now, when it is mixed with historical fiction into a compulsively readable book that had me screaming near the end, "No, no no!" When I picked it up, I got the historical fiction part and I am fascinated with the 1950's. In this novel, Mrs. Davenport is married to a bible thumping who turns out to be way beyond the "traditional" 1950's husband. He is controlling and abusive, not to mention hypocritical. Meanwhile, his suffering wife has "powers" considered evil in the husband's religious circles. This is all I will say since I do not want to give too much away. This was a fascinating look into the mores of America's 1950s as well into the world of those with (or who believe) in supernatural powers. Thankfully, this author's other work is on Kindle Unlimited because you best believe that I will be reading them as well as her new book in 2025, which I cannot wait for.
Thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for giving me the privilege of reading this wonderful novel.

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Wow!!! Paulette Kennedy, the Author of “The Devil and Mrs. Davenport” has written an intense, captivating and intriguing novel that contrasts the Protagonist dealing with the living and the dead. The Genres for this well-written and Gothic-like feel story are Paranormal, Suspense, Mystery, Thriller, Horror, Ghosts, Historical Fiction and Adult Fiction. The author vividly describes the scenery, plot, and the dramatic characters. One detail that stays with me is that the house seems to get cracks, when the protagonist is agitated. It almost reminds me of “The House” in “Encanto”.

Loretta Davenport is first realizing that she has the special ability to see and hear ghosts, especially those of dead people. There are several unsolved murders, and Loretta is getting signs and warnings from dead ghosts. Loretta is also manipulated and kept under the control of her husband Pete, who is a college professor at a Bible college. They have two children. Loretta wants to learn more about these powers and seeks out a prominent Parapsychologist, Dr. Curtis Hansen. Pete has strictly forbidden Loretta to speak to the Parapsychologist.

Pete is convinced that what is happening to Loretta is coming from the Devil, as Loretta is getting stronger powers. Loretta realizes that she has to somehow save herself.

I read this in one sitting, and loved everyone word in this story. There are twists, turns, betrayals, secrets, and murders. I appreciate that the author discusses important topics such as abortion, alcoholism, verbal and physical abuse, mental health, institutionalization, and lack of women’s rights. When the story takes place, women can’t open a checking account or bank account without a spouse, or brother being there. I highly recommend this memorable story.

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Expected this book to be literary. It wasn't. It's more like a Lifetime movie with paranormal elements and a romance subplot. 300 pages of melodrama gets resolved with a few overly convenient turns and an unrealistically tidy epilogue. My biggest nope was the questionable romantic relationship. "You were never really my patient". It's like okay she only calls you DOCTOR HANSEN for 97% of the book. But sure. Whatever. It felt contradictory to read about a woman living under patriarchy in the 1950's struggling to find agency, and then having her happily ever after be leaving her husband for her doctor?? Maybe I'm missing something, but it felt uncomfy and gave me a headache. On the plus, this was quick to read, and entertaining at times. Just don't go in expecting anything too intellectual.

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I inhaled The Devil and Mrs. Davenport. It did take a few chapters to completely suck me in but after that I couldn't put it down. Well... that's not completely true. I did have to set the book down a time or two because Loretta was about to do something that made me too nervous, but only for a second! I went into this kinda blindly and I think that added to my enjoyment. No spoilers in this review!

This book is atmospheric and lightly spooky. You can read this at night and not have to worry about sleeping with the lights on.

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Paulette Kennedy I cannot thank you enough for providing me with a glimpse of being a woman in the 50’s that made me so very thankful to have not had to endure being so very oppressed. It helped me understand the lives my mom and aunts were subjected to. I loved, loved, loved Loretta…she epitomized the housewife of the 50’s so very perfectly. Until I read this book I never realized that women were unable to open a bank account without their husband’s permission or that of a male family member. I had read books about women being committed to institutions by their husbands under the guise of suffering from hysteria - more likely those who were beginning to assert themselves or for those husbands who had found a new target for their affections.
Loretta will linger in my mind for quite a while. Her ability to hear the voices of those who had unfinished business in the living world was fascinating to me, as was her relationships with Curt, Barbara and Vera. As the house began to crack I couldn’t help but compare it to Loretta’s life.
So many topics covered within these pages so very effectively…oppression, spousal abuse, divorce, paranormal activities, institutionalization, police produces of the 50’s, psychologists, girls missing, and others that I can’t think of right now.
Once you start this book you will not want to put it down as Paulette Kennedy weaves her magic. I cannot speak highly enough of this incredible five star read.
My sincere appreciation to Paulette Kennedy, Lake Union Publishing, and NetGalley for affording me the amazing opportunity to read an arc of this just published book.

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“The death of someone you love is difficult to deal with in the best of circumstances. But when an accident—or worse—happens, it can make the grief seem overwhelming.”

Woah! I am not sure what I expected going into this one but I am blown away. This book is like a juxtaposition of horror, historical fiction, and murder mystery. You may think that that’s too much and it can’t possibly work does. In the best possible way. This book made me both feel and think and I can’t ask for much more while reading.

Boy am I glad I live in this day and age because if I lived back then where I couldn’t open a bank account or cash a check without a man in my life present.. that would not have ended well for me. 😤 #StrongPersonality

Reading the author’s note is always one of my favorite parts of a book, and the book is very well researched. She really made me think…who WAS the devil in this story? I’ll let you read and decide for yourself.

Thank you to Netgalley, Lake Union Publishing, and the author for the ARC in exchange for honest review.

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Thank you Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for access to this arc.

There is a lot going on in The Devil and Mrs. Davenport – there is a strong central storyline having to do with Loretta coming into her own, and butting up against the sexism of the era and of her controlling husband. In one scene she tries to open a secret bank account – she’s been making some money writing for the Kansas City Star – and is told that she can’t open an account without her husband present. She’s also dealing with past traumas, chiefly the death of her mother. Loretta’s relationship with Pete deteriorates throughout the course of the novel, and the Davenport home is crumbling literally, not just metaphorically – cracks appear in the foundation and a leak causes the bathtub to fall into the kitchen below.

There’s the mystery of Darcy’s murder and the other girl’s disappearance, as well as a girl named Joan who Loretta has premonitions of danger about. I wasn’t sure how (or if) the disparate mysteries were related, though I assumed there would be some personal connection for Loretta. As such I was suspicious of the two male leads, Pete Davenport and Dr. Curtis Hansen, though I don’t know that I was supposed to be suspicious of both of them.

On top of these two elements there’s the paranormal aspect. I hesitate to call this the weakest part of the novel, because it did serve as a way for Loretta to come into her own – her abilities gave her a sense of self-worth that had been lacking for a long time. I appreciated them as a metaphor but when Dr. Hansen talked about the phenomena as if they have scientific validity, I didn’t like it. I couldn’t reconcile my real-world beliefs with something that feels not just not real, but like a hoax, a scam. So there’s that – it didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the book but it was a negative for me.

The story gets increasingly gothic and nightmarish, and Loretta has to find the courage to confront the truth and vanquish an enemy, for her own sake and for her children. The ending was fine but the epilogues piled on heavy with an HEA that didn’t work for me.

I am a little ambivalent (as usual) on a grade – Loretta was a strong heroine, and the good elements were probably A-. The things I didn’t like were maybe C+, making an average grade of B. But I’d recommend this to readers who like the 1950s setting or simply are in the mood for a little something different.

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I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley. Opinions expressed in this review are my own.
This is such a unique story that really got me excited about reading again. Really, the only negative was Pete. I did not like him one bit.

I can see this book playing out like the movie Pleasant ville. Loretta lived in a black and white world until she started getting visions. The life and color come into her life.

Sorry it's 2:30 am and I'm tired.

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The Devil and Mrs. Davenport by Paulette Kennedy is a compulsively readable novel, as it tackles the study of parapsychology and metaphysics in the 20th century United States, Pentecostal faith-healing practices, and the oppression of women.
The time is 1955. The setting is a town in the Missouri Ozarks. Loretta is a housewife, mired in the drudgery of cooking, cleaning, raising children and being subservient to her misogynistic husband Pete. He teaches at the local fundamentalist Bethel College, but is a closet alcoholic, and more. As Loretta chafes in her role in this restrictive environment, she is conflicted by her desire to pursue her dream of a writing career and her duties to be docile and please her husband. Then, local teenage girls go missing and Loretta has visions which can help solve the crimes.
The plotting is fairly predictable. The reader follows Loretta as her husband has her committed to a mental hospital, because she has “visions,” and also because she is recalcitrant to his demands. The revelations of his dark activities and the solution of the murders are suspenseful and satisfying!
The strength of this book is the writing, which is intelligent, engaging, and atmospheric, as it captures the essence of the conservative religious movement that dominated social conventions in the mid-century Midwest and South.
In the Author’s Note, Ms. Kennedy explains her inspiration and purpose in writing this novel, as well as the parallels with that restrictive time and the present. “The biggest threat to liberty is our own hypocrisy and indifference.” (Paulette Kennedy)
This message is a profound takeaway for women who read this book—even in this 21st century, our freedom is fragile, and must be defended and protected by women of all ages.

Thank you to Lake Union Books and NetGalley. This is my honest review.

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I did not read the synopsis of this book before I started. I like to live dangerously and be surprised by what comes my way. From the title of the book, I didn't really know what to expect. This is a gothic thriller with paranormal. Not quite what I imagined, but I'm not mad about it at all. This book is eccentric, I loved the twists, and Paulette Kennedy did a fine job executing her work.

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Take the '50s idealism but make it horror! Wow! You can't trust many people in this book, and part of the fun was identifying who you could/could not trust. This was weird and wild and I loved every page.

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The Devil and Mrs. Davenport revolves around a seemingly content 1950s housewife whose life turns chaotic when she starts having visions of a murdered girl. As if life wasn’t scary enough for a woman back then, the main character in this story starts to experience terrifying visions, all while enduring physical and emotional abuse from her husband. There were parts in this story that made me so angry. The way Loretta was treated by her husband and society was horrible. I thought Loretta was a strong and likable character. It was hard at times to read about what she had to experience.

I definitely recommend this book, especially to lovers of historical fiction and paranormal fiction. I loved the author’s writing and I can’t wait to read more of her books.

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Thank you to netgalley for this ARC!

The Devil and Mrs Davenport is historical fiction set in 1950s Ozarks with a strong speculative slant. It follows Loretta, a trad wife, who wakes up from an illness to discover she has psychic power, including the power to see the dead.

This book is the perfect feminist story of a woman trapped in patriarchy and religious indoctrination rediscovering herself and growing into her own power. It’s gut wrenching at times as you witness the struggles of a woman without power; it feels like a nightmare as the men in her life control and abuse her.

The speculative elements of seeing the dead are so well done and fascinating. I definitely got hooked and needed to know the answer the mysteries!

Overall, this is a definite recommend!

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This is my second Paulette Kennedy book and it was an absolute winner for me. The author is a masterful storyteller. Set in1950s in Missouri, the author has stayed true to the time period and effortlessly captured the atmosphere and the treatment of women during that time.

Loretta, a housewife in 1950's develops disturbing psychic abilities after a fever. Her husband, a professor at a Bible college becomes convinced that the Devil is to blame.

Loretta's story was inspiring. Dealing with the horrors of an abusive marriage, judgemental neighbours, abiding by the demands of fundamental religion and a bit of supernatural too, Loretta did not have an easy life but with her perseverance and determination and support from Dr. Curtis Hansen, a parapsychologist, she finally manages to find her voice and place.

I could not put the book down. Taut with suspense and a gothic atmospheric feel, this was a very compelling read and one I truly enjoyed from start to finish.

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