The Devil and Mrs. Davenport

Lake Union. Mar. 2024. 351p. ISBN 9781662514883. pap. $16.99. F
Kennedy’s third novel (after The Witch of Tin Mountain and Parting the Veil) is an homage to both Shirley Jackson and the American Midwest in the 1950s. Loretta Davenport is a mother of two, married to Pete, an assistant professor at a Missouri Bible college. Her midcentury domestic lifestyle is upended when a local girl is murdered and she begins to hear voices from beyond. This exposes her to the casual misogyny that has isolated her and makes her a target of her husband’s religious fervor. The only person who can help her claim her new gifts and possibly reveal the girl’s murderer is parapsychologist Curtis Hansen, who believes in her gift. But in 1955 this is difficult for a woman to accomplish, leaving Loretta with a choice: take control of her life or accept her isolation.
VERDICT Shirley Jackson fans will appreciate this novel with a distinct vintage vibe; readers of gothic and supernatural titles will be drawn in by the book’s feminist empowerment narrative.
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