The Devil and Mrs. Davenport: A Novel

Image of The Devil and Mrs. Davenport: A Novel
Release Date: 
March 5, 2024
Lake Union Publishing
Reviewed by: 

“Any reader who is looking for a two-day page-turner would be right to pick up this book.”

Mrs. Loretta Davenport life is full. She has two sweet children, a lovely house, an abusive husband, and ESP.

The ESP arrives in visions and voices, which seem to be getting stronger with each passing day. The author, Paulette Kennedy, alerts us to Loretta’s growing situation with her opening line of The Devil and Mrs. Davenport—“September 1955[:] The first day of autumn brought the fever, and with the fever came the voices.” She has hooked us and life just becomes more confusing and frightening with each passing page for Mrs. Loretta Davenport.

As the events increase, her husband, Pete Davenport, a professor at Bethel, the local Bible College, realizes it would never do for the faculty at Bethel to learn about Loretta’s visions, which he does not believe are real. No, that will never do!

Life becomes more difficult when Loretta reads a newspaper article entitled, “Myrna Grove Girl Missing” and as she reads on, her life takes a turn. She experiences the death of Darcy Hayes—a girl she doesn’t even know. Her experience is so real that she calls the police and leaves an anonymous tip as to where Darcy can be found.

Loretta does not let go of these encounters but feels she must pursue the events and learn more about them. Kennedy is adept at weaving Loretta’s experiences into a well-planned story with its ups and downs that will keep the reader turning the page.

When Loretta is injured during one of her experiences, her doctor recommends she see a psychoanalyst, Dr. Curtis Hansen. “‘He’s holding a lecture. . . . I believe it’s for something related to metaphysical studies . . .’”

Not fully understanding how this could help her find some answers, she meets him and is immediately drawn to him. Dr Curtis is studying mental phenomena and sees the reality of Loretta’s encounters.

Loretta must keep their appointments a secret from Pete, whose religious beliefs see the devil at every turn, and certainly, he would believe she has encountered the devil in her visions.

Kennedy’s character development brings life to the various characters that enter Loretta’s being. She is especially skilled at creating a rabbit hole that Loretta falls through, with virtually no end in sight. Pete becomes more irrational with every occurrence and when Loretta attempts to explain to him what is happening, Kennedy sends him down his own dark rabbit hole

Kennedy further develops her various characters—both good and not-so-good, such as Phyllis Colton, the nosy neighbor who shares Loretta’s comings and goings with Pete; Gladys, the wife of one of Pete’s coworkers who becomes a good friend to Loretta (much to Pete’s disapproval); the children who try to avoid Pete’s controlling hand; and Barbara, Dr.Hansen’s sister, who becomes a life-safer to Loretta. Each of these characters, and more, play a vital role in bringing Loretta out of the rabbit hole.

As the story progresses, Kennedy builds the first major climactic event when Pete has Loretta confined to a mental hospital, with possibly no return to real life. These chapters are well written—Kenney’s research is deep—and paint a picture of sheer terror in the misunderstandings of mental health in 1950s medical work.

The final climactic event must be read and is well worth the wait on the part of the reader. Kennedy brings the story to a logical conclusion, where the reader will say, “Yes! That’s absolutely right!”

Any reader who is looking for a two-day page-turner would be right to pick up this book. They won’t put it down until the last page.