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The Devil and Mrs. Davenport

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This will have you hooked straight from the beginning. A dark, tense thriller combining life as a woman in the 1950s and paranormal elements of ESP. The Devil and Mrs Davenport was so well written and I felt a constant sense of dread about everything Loretta was going through. Especially at the hands of her husband.

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The Devil and Mrs. Davenport
by Paulette Kennedy
Pub Date: 05 Mar 2024

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

Missouri, 1955. Loretta Davenport has led an isolated life as a young mother and a wife to Pete, an ambitious assistant professor at a Bible college. They’re the picture of domestic tranquility—until a local girl is murdered and Loretta begins receiving messages from beyond. Pete dismisses them as delusions of a fevered female imagination. Loretta knows they’re real—and frightening.

Defying Pete’s demands, Loretta finds an encouraging supporter in parapsychologist Dr. Curtis Hansen. He sees a woman with a rare gift, more blessing than curse. With Dr. Hansen’s help, Loretta’s life opens up to an empowering new purpose. But for Pete, the God-fearing image he’s worked so hard to cultivate is under threat. No longer in control of his dutiful wife, he sees the Devil at work.

As Loretta’s powers grow stronger and the pleading spirits beckon, Pete is determined to deliver his wife from evil. To solve the mysteries of the dead, Loretta must first save herself.

Excellent Book

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Loretta Davenport is leading a normal life as a mother and wife, when she starts to experience visions. Initially, Loretta is unsure of what is going on. Is it an illness, is it brought on by her virtual isolation, imposed by her husband, Pete, a professor at a local bible college. Life is not easy for Loretta, as she is expected to “toe the line”, Pete’s version of it at all times. Pete is a ‘supposed’ religious zealot that is against anything that speaks of a secular nature. Imagine how dissatisfying it is to Pete when Loretta begins to receive messages from the “other side”, people who have departed, by natural means or otherwise. Unbeknownst to Pete, Loretta begins to meet with a psychologist that specializes in the paranormal. Loretta is divided between 2 men, one that views her sightings as a gift, and the other that is convinced that her messages are links to the devil and that she requires institutionalization. Loretta suffers dearly as the result of her husband’s actions that are taken in order to eradicate her connection with the devil.

This story is a combination of drama, mystery, thriller, and paranormal. It cannot be constrained to just one genre. This will make it an interesting story for a variety of readers. There are so many themes encompassed in just this one book which will captivate multiple audiences. The plot was well developed and there were twists that were unanticipated. This book will interest many. I will be on the look out for more by this author. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advance review copy in exchange for my honest review.

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An dark, challenging, subtle exploration into the horror of being a woman in 1950’s America. Bleak, demanding with elements of the supernatural. A gripping read.

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I couldn’t put this down! Set in the 50’s, Mrs. Davenport is a housewife married to a fervently religious man who teaches at a local bible college. Mrs. Davenport, Loretta, begins having messages from the beyond after a local girl goes missing. Her husband is quick to dismiss her gift as the work of the devil, but Loretta knows she can help those struggling on the other side. How far can she go to help them, yet keep her own children safe? And just who is the devil? This book was fast paced and beautifully written. Kennedy explores what it means to a woman, and the inner strength that women possess when faced with adversity.

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I loved this story, though as a strong independent woman, i wouldn't want to live in the 1950s.

The supernatural, psychological suspense, and domestic drama make this one to read.

The characters,writing and the heavy topics make this an emotional read. This is a story that i wont forget for a long time.

A definite recommend

Thank you Netgalley and publisher for allowing me to read this arc.

All thoughts and opinions are my own and aren't influenced by anyone else

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Let me start by saying that I’ve read all of Paulette’s published books in ARC-format. What stood out the most to me in this novel was how very different the protagonist is. Both from the protagonists in Paulette’s previous books, but also purely for a protagonist. Period. It’s rare for an understated performance to be so powerful in its own understated-ness. So impactful in what it doesn’t do rather than what it does. But that’s what Paulette pulls off with Mrs. Davenport. The phrase “it’s the small victories that matter” has never felt truer to me than when I read this book. For me, the characterization is what shone the brightest in this book. Closely followed by the historical accuracy/research (which is thankfully always accounted for in the notes at the end) and the mystery that is the main plot of the book. But the characterization took the cake for me. It far outshines what I’ve seen before from Paulette, and I’m thoroughly tickled to see what comes next!

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This was a truly absorbing novel! I love the 1950’s time frame meshed with the paranormal. The attitude of the husband is so frustrating and really paints the picture of what life was like for women during the time. I would definitely recommend this book and the author.

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Mrs. Davenport has the quintessential life in her small Missouri town; a husband who is a professor at the local university and respected in their church, 2 children she adores and......visions of the dead. More specifically, visions of the dead who have something left to say, the dead whose deaths are unsolved and they need someone to speak for them.
It's the 1950's and the perfect life isn't all it's chalked up to be; an abusive, controlling, drunk of a husband who forbids her to see someone to help her make sense of her visions. Mrs. Davenport begins sneaking- sneaking to a therapist, sneaking out to help police with her visions, sneaking out to meet up with family members and try to help the dead find closure, and justice. The visions are stronger and stronger, taking her into the victim's POV and the horrors that they experienced. And now, after a mirror breaks in a moment of anger, she realizes her gifts are more powerful than she could perhaps control.
But being a woman in the 1950's isn't so easy- unable to own a credit card, have a bank account, or be the owner of her own life, she realizes that if she doesn't find a way out, her husband may find a way to keep her from ever seeing her kids again.
This book took off and kept me turning pages at a frantic pace. The ending was a bit too tidy for my liking, but it did not take away from the overall experience.
Mrs. Davenport's transformation from a meek church wife to a strong and formidable woman was done expertly. Make sure you read the author's notes at the end.

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I tried to read this like four times and could not get into it. A shame because the blurb made it sound like something I'd love. Maybe it picked up but the first few chapters were a slog and didn't hook me. I couldn't relate to the main character and the writing was sort of faux old timey in a way that I didn't care for.

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I COULD NOT put this down!

This was a very engaging read about a housewife in a typical Christian family in the 1950s. Loretta is struggling under the weight of depressive episodes, and the mundanity of her simple life. Not only does she carry the emotional weight of her family, she is inundated with strange visions. Haunted by the dead, she learns some key information in the case of a murdered young woman in her town.

Her husband Pete doesn’t believe her and wants her to be subservient, so she secretly turns to a parapsychologist, Dr. Curtis Hansen who helps her maneuver through her abilities. This was so freaking good!

The setting of this book really paints a picture. I knew what I was getting into when starting this book, but it was still horrifying! This book deals with a lot of religious trauma, abuse and suppression. The things that Loretta has to deal with in this book made me irate! But it was such a fun reading experience.

I highly recommend this intense psychological thriller.

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Oh, I really loved the whole vintage feel of this one!

I would not want to be a woman in the 1950’s (okay, I’m also not white so I REALLY wouldn’t want to live then). Behind the pretty dresses and quiet streets, the author shows us the absolute horror of a woman dealing with a challenging marriage, the demands of fundamental religion, judgmental neighbors and a little supernatural issue. I’d implode!

Loretta is wonderful. I adored her and found myself worried for her and hoping she’d find her happy.

I wanted to punch Pete. Still do.

The story has some very dark parts, but Loretta herself is an absolutely delightful light in that darkness.

I read this at breakneck speed and was so sorry when it was over!

Loved this!

• ARC via Publisher

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It took me a little while to get invested in this one, but once I did, I couldn't put it down. It's terrifying to think that the behavior exhibited by the male characters in the narrative is honestly no different today than it was in the 1950s in some households. I think there were a couple of small plotlines that really didn't advance the plot in meaningful ways (Mr. Davenport's tenure track; the structurally integrity of their house, etc.), and sometimes the main character was a little pathetic, but otherwise this was a decent read with a satisfying conclusion.

I received an arc of this text in exchange for an honest review.

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What a Gothic delight! From the instant I started reading this book I was utterly engrossed. It’s a truly compelling and remarkably powerful read. I loved everything about it, from the 1950s setting, the supernatural elements to the diverse cast of characters.
I wholeheartedly recommend you grab a copy of your own!

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This is a gothic thriller with paranormal elements. I was intrigued from the first page.

The characters, particularly the MC, were fully drawn and relateable. Set in the 1950s the MC struggles to deal with her newly found psychic abilities in the face of her husband's lack of acceptance and religious fervor.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me the opportunity to read this ARC. This is my honest review.

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I really enjoyed this - the slow building horror of domestic violence and murder in a small town, balanced with a brilliant MC who has otherworldly abilities she is just trying to understand.
The setting of the 1950s worked so well to emphasise the claustrophobic nature of the abuse described, and highlighted the lack of control women had in those days.
There was an element of just going with the flow in terms of the plot, but I think that's necessary with any gothic suburban horror. Shades of Shirley Jackson (which the author notes at the end) which I loved.
Would highly recommend, and will be seeking out future works by the author!

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This book had me hooked from the moment I picked it up. My first ARC read and I was blown away. It covered off so many sensitive subjects in a respectful way. I knew from early on who the killer would be in this book however it still managed to keep me hooked with lots of twists and turns in the story. I loved the setting in the 50’s and the characters were diverse especially given the time period. I feel as though the ending was right on point for what we wanted but felt rushed. How Pete was caught and what happened after needed a bit more time and care. Overall loved this book. The themes were handled delicately and with care but were portrayed well.

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Loretta Davenport, a quiet 1950s housewife, begins having strange visions, which she readily attributes to the fever she’s just getting over—until one of her visions coincides with the murder of a local girl. Much to the dismay of her religious husband, Pete, Loretta seeks advice and finds support in parapsychologist, Dr. Hansen, who helps Loretta hone her gifts to connect with the beyond. Pete, seeing his obedient wife’s new abilities as a threat to his idyllic reputation, works to put an end to what he believes is the Devil’s work. Loretta must overcome a true evil in order to free the spirits who are haunting her.

Paulette Kennedy offers an American Gothic delight in The Devil & Mrs. Davenport by weaving a captivating tale that hits on the perfect combination of mystery/thriller, paranormal elements, domestic drama, and a touch of romance in such a delicate balance that worked really well. For me, I feel that sometimes bringing in elements like psychic abilities can sometimes feel hokey or like a cop-out, especially when there’s a whodunnit plot line, but Kennedy mastered these elements beautifully and made Loretta feel like a very believable character.

The story flowed well with good developed characters and captivating plot points. Beyond the plot line of solving the young woman’s murder, The Devil & Mrs. Davenport examined isolation and abuse within domestic relationships and the strength of the women that overcome them.

Paulette Kennedy has so much to offer within this read.

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Loretta is a housewife to a tyrant Pete. Pete is very religious. Loretta starts seeing things and speaking with the dead. Pete doesn't believe in her gifts and wants to keep Loretta under his thumb.
I liked this book, it has a bit of a mystery to go along with the story of Loretta. I don't want to say too much. This is a slow burn but the ending really picks up.

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I chose this on the strength of the title and cover and I was NOT disappointed. This is a really gripping read. I was rooting for Loretta, a 1959’s housewife trapped in a controlling marriage who discovers she has psychic abilities, from the very start, and the twists and turns the story takes are both unexpected and strangely plausible.

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