Cover Image: The Devil and Mrs. Davenport

The Devil and Mrs. Davenport

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Member Reviews

This book was a bit of a slow burn, ramping up the awfulness of being a 1950s housewife (or at least how bad it could be), until it was quite a horror story. Loretta has ESP and there's a supernatural aspect there, but the real evil here is her husband. It was a little stressful to read some parts here, but it definitely held my interest towards the end. Loved the other characters in the book and I was rooting for everyone that wasn't her husband, Pete, haha. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC!

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This book was powerfully written and propulsive. It painted such a vivid picture of life in rural America in the 1950's. Loretta, the protagonist, was instantly sympathetic, and her journey was mesmerizing.
Married to a preacher, yet the one to have a God-given gift, she immediately is a threat to her husband, who accuses her of sorcery. Her journey to harness her visions is fascinating, and you root for her to rise to her potential in the face of a patriarchal society determined to silence her.
Paulette Kennedy is a fantastic writer. Her imagery is rich and her storytelling deft. I knew immediately I was in the hands of a master. the twists and turns are marvelous, and the ending will leave you breathless.
Five enthusiastic stars.

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I haven’t read a book quite like this for a long time- I’m a bit obsessed with it!

The premise is really clever, and the 1950s setting adds a layer of eeriness to this seemingly perfect domestic set-up. It gives Don’t Worry Darling vibes, with Loretta being very isolated in her marriage to her heavily religious husband.

I’m trying so hard not to give spoilers here, but when she started essentially communicating with the dead I enjoyed the development of deciding if that’s a blessing or a curse. I think it really captures the time, as husbands panicked when they lost control of their wives. It must be the Devil, right?

I will be adding more of Kennedy’s work to my TBR- thank you for my advanced copy by NetGalley. I can’t recommend it enough!

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This was a pretty good read! I can see it being included in a lot of book clubs when the publication date rolls around.

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Possible spoilers

This feels like a horror story of what it could be like to be a 1950's housewife!


The especially angle added an extra element.

The bad guy was easy to guess from the start, and the ending was predictable BUT I enjoyed this a lot.
Great main character, suffocating atmosphere, and tension at the domestic situation.
A good read.

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So this was going to be my “now reading” post, but instead I think it’s going to be a DNF announcement. I’ve actually been reading it for a few days, and it’s not that it’s poorly written or anything, it’s just not really holding my interest. Ordinarily I’d force myself to keep going, but I’ve decided that’s not the energy I want to bring into 2024.

I’m 1/4 of the way through, and feel like I’m reading less than ever because I just don’t care enough to pick it back up. So instead of pushing through it, I’ve decided I’m going to normalize DNF-ing books that aren’t holding my interest.

No more forcing myself to finish books in 2024!!

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The atmosphere and main character were really done well. I found the story interesting and I enjoyed reading about a darker take on the 50s.

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The Devil and Mrs. Davenport is a really interesting take on evangelicalism with a thriller vibe going on. Very early in the book we discover that Loretta (Mrs. Davenport) has the gift of ESP (extrasensory perception). However, her husband, Mr. Davenport does not feel like this aligns with their Christian values. Loretta receives a referral to meet with Dr. Hansen, a psychiatrist who is researching gifts like hers. Although Mr. Davenport doesn't approve of her seeing this psychiatrist she goes anyway. Loretta very quickly becomes valuable to Dr. Hansen's research, the local police department, and Dora, a young girl whose sister had been missing until Loretta was able to locate her body with her ESP.

I really enjoyed the aspect of this novel that centered on Loretta finding her independence and asserting herself. As an exvangelical myself I could relate to a lot of the outdated religious/traditional family concepts that were thrust upon her. While Loretta didn't fully renounce her religious beliefs in the end I do feel like she came to terms with the fact that not everything is quite as "black and white" or "right and wrong" as more traditional teachings would have one believe.

I also enjoyed the thriller/whodunnit aspect of the missing girls but I wish the ending and retribution hadn't felt quite so rushed. I would recommend this book to anyone who is reckoning with their own faith or looking for a good thriller with an evangelical twist.

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"The Devil and Mrs. Davenport" by Paulette Kennedy provides a captivating view of the world of 1950s America. It is there where the haunting grip of the living and the ethereal intertwines.

Kennedy begins innocuously with the arrival of autumn, yet swiftly spirals into an entrancing tale of a woman, Loretta Davenport, whose life takes an unexpected turn following a local tragedy. The juxtaposition of domestic tranquility and eerie occurrences drew me into a world where the ordinary collides with the supernatural.

Kennedy weaves suspense and mystique around Loretta's experiences, portraying the tension between her awakening abilities and her husband Pete's apprehensions. The dynamic between the characters crackles with intensity as Loretta's journey of self-discovery unfolds amidst the pressures of societal expectations and Pete's attempts to maintain control.

I felt drawn into the nuanced exploration of empowerment amidst adversity. Loretta's evolution from a constrained existence to embracing her extraordinary gift is portrayed with finesse. Kennedy delivers a touching reminder that sometimes the greatest challenges can unearth unforeseen strengths within us.

Kennedy's evocative language immersed me in a world where the supernatural coexists with the everyday. This story subtly imparts the lesson that embracing one's true self often requires courage and a willingness to defy societal norms.

"The Devil and Mrs. Davenport" is spellbinding! It left me contemplating the fine line between the seen and the unseen, the familiar and the unknown. It is a journey that invites introspection and encourages embracing one's unique strengths.

"A hauntingly beautiful tale of the supernatural woven into the fabric of 1950s America."

"A gripping story that blurs the lines between the ordinary and the otherworldly."

"Kennedy's text casts an irresistible spell, drawing readers into a world of subtle horrors and hidden strengths."

"A mesmerizing exploration of empowerment amidst societal constraints and unearthly forces."

"Elegantly crafted, this tale of mystery and self-discovery is impossible to put down."

"A riveting saga that challenges conventions and celebrates the extraordinary within."

"This novel weaves a captivating web of intrigue while investigating the depths of the human spirit."

"A perfect blend of suspense and the supernatural that left me spellbound."

"A hauntingly evocative journey that tiptoes along the edges of reality, inviting readers to ponder the mysteries within."

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🇺🇸 Set in the 1950s Ozarks, USA
POV: We follow the turbulent life of Loretta Davenport, who seems to be grappling with a chronic illness in a time rife with societal pressures on women and mothers along with medical misogyny.

Mood Reading Match Up:
-Historical fiction with 1950s true crime and relationship dynamics that still resonate today
-Experience of chronic illness with magical realism and supernatural elements intertwined
-Themes of escape, domestic abuse, toxic gender roles, true love and support, hypocrisy, redemption, systemic oppression of women and the societal expectations placed on men


🐺 Growls, Howls, and Tail Wags 🐕
✏️ Writing: The third person narration was clear and engaging, effectively conveying the emotions of claustrophobia, confusion, and anger. The narrative captured the oppressive atmosphere of the era and the personal struggles of the characters.

🫥 Characters: Initially distant, the characters, especially Loretta, grew on me. Her plight was heart-wrenching yet believable, showcasing strength even in moments of despair. The book avoided the ‘all men are jerks’ trope, presenting a range of male characters, some of whom defied the misogynistic norms of their time.

🗺️ Worldbuilding: The 1950s setting was vividly rendered through detailed descriptions seen through Loretta’s eyes. It offered an immersive experience without feeling like a history lesson.

🔥 Fuel: The story’s tension revolved around Loretta’s fate and her family’s dynamics, interwoven with the mystery of a predator targeting young women. The narrative kept me guessing about outcomes and character developments, even after I predicted the perpetrator.

🐢 Pacing: While more on the plot-driven than character-driven side, the book had a slow-burn feel. It required an emotional investment in Loretta to fully engage with the unfolding events and I found I often had to take breaks because it was so sad and heavy of a story.

🎬 Scenes: Though some scenes are predictable, they resonated emotionally and often remained relevant today (sadly), highlighting the societal and legal constraints of the 1950s that parallel contemporary issues.

🤔 Random Thoughts: I thought this would be more of a paranormal story where we are wondering if we can believe our main character (i.e., is she possessed or unhinged?). Although the story shows us irl terrors, it is more of a historical fiction, so you may be disappointed or find it slow if you picked it up for possession or demonic horror elements.

Overall, I thought the it was a poignant and thought-provoking novel that transported me to a different era while holding up a mirror to ongoing societal issues. It’s a story of suffering, resilience, and the quest for freedom in the face of daunting odds.



Content Heads-Up: Medical (psychosomatic accusations, nausea and vomiting, chronic fatigue, hallucinations). Misogyny. Relationship violence. Mental and emotional abuse (from spouse). Murdered and missing women.
Rep: Primarily features White American characters.

Format: Digital advanced reader copy from Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley

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I was fascinated by the author's depiction of 1950s Missouri and the subtle ways in which the era's societal norms and expectations shape the characters' experiences. Loretta's struggles to assert her own identity and agency within a stifling marriage and community resonated deeply. I appreciated how the supernatural elements served as a metaphor for the ways in which women's voices and experiences have been marginalized and silenced throughout history. Pete's character served as a chilling reminder of the dangers of toxic masculinity and religious fundamentalism. Dr. Hansen's character provided a refreshing counterpoint, highlighting the importance of empathy and intellectual curiosity. A compelling and thought-provoking read that will appeal to fans of historical fiction and psychological thrillers alike.

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This is the second book I have read lately based in Missouri and I must say I have enjoyed them both. This book is a bit different than what I would normally read as it has a paranormal theme that is quite interesting. I enjoyed the characters and the way the story has been written. It kept me interested and intrigued.

This is a very well written book and believable with characters you can relate to and find in your own community (albeit in a different era). A different theme/genre for me but I really enjoyed it.

Thank you NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book.

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Paulette Kennedy's best work yet. In <i>The Devil and Mrs. Davenport</i> we follow Loretta, the wife of a devout professor at the local seminary. Loretta begins to have visions and experience things she cannot explain, and she wants to use these abilities to help people. But her husband is convinced that only men receive holy gifts, so Loretta must be under the influence of evil. As Loretta explores her abilities and gets to know herself better, she finds friends and support to help her match the newfound difficulties she faces. So much about Loretta's story was relatable and impactful for me, as I'm sure it will be for many others.
Read the content warnings before this one, but know that Loretta's story is ultimately one of hope.

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“You’re ever saving Ophelia in all your books, darling.” This line. A thousand times, yes. And it’s one of the many reasons why I love Paulette Kennedy’s books, but especially this one.

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I am really enjoying this boom. Love the way it is written and how compelling the story is. Looking forward to chatting with the author

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I came to this book already being a huge, huge fan of Paulette Kennedy’s books. And she absolutely still has a fan in me.
This book was entirely enthralling. It was filled with suspense from the very first page. As always, Kennedy wrote characters that you can relate to and root for but are also so nervous for throughout. The writing was superb, some lines really packing a punch and making me pause just to think on them. And the way heavy topics like mental health were handled was great, and really felt nuanced and empathetic.

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This book both gripped and appalled me. Although a work of fiction, there will have been women living this life and not being able to escape as the husband had all the power and was able to ‘quieten’ them by suggesting they must be mad.

Such a good read.

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A gripping and beautifully written book. Loretta is a 1950's housewife with paranormal abilities. Trapped in an abusive marriage the narrative deftly brings us in to her world while tackling important issues. The language and the setting were so well done and for me the pacing was perfect until the end which felt slightly rushed. I was so absorbed in Loretta's journey - she's a wonderful protagonist.

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The Devil and Mrs. Davenport has left me speechless. When I say that Paulette Kennedy writes books that are totally my jam, I mean it. I've read and loved her previous works, but when I heard she had written a book about a 1950's housewife who discovers she can speak to the dead, I was reaching for it with grabbing hands. I loved Loretta, and I've been thinking of her since I turned off my Kindle days ago. Don't hesitate to pick this book up! If you like stories that hold on to you until the last breathless page, then look no further. Kennedy has crafted an addicting read that will soak you in atmosphere until your fingers turn pruny. This story isn’t just a home run—it’s a grand slam.

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Gothic thriller with paranormal elements. I was drawn in from the first page.

The characters were fully drawn and relatable and being set in 1950s i love it. .

The book was well written and very enjoyable to read.
Thanks NetGalley for letting me review and read.

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