Book Review: The Art of Devotion – Samantha Bruce-Benjamin

Title: The Art of Devotion
Author: Samantha Bruce-Benjamin
ISBN: 9781439153949
Pages: 400
Release Date: June 8, 2010
Publisher: Gallery
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Amazon Vine
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:

This twisted family story is set on an idyllic island in the Mediterranean Sea and features Adora, a destructive, narcissistic woman with an unhealthy obsession with her brother, Sebastian.  After Sebastian dies at a young age, Adora isn’t sure she wants to go on living.  But then she meets Oliver, a wealthy businessman, and though they have no children of their own, Adora is captured by young Genevieve, the daughter of a family friend.  Through Genevieve, Adora starts the cycle of destruction over again.

Review:

The Art of Devotion is a book that is very difficult to describe, hence the rather lame summary above.  It’s really a psychological thriller masked by the beauty and languor of its Mediterranean setting.  The novel is fueled by its characters, especially the beautiful but destructive Adora.  Though the book is told from the points of view of four different women, it is Adora who is at the center of it all, who sets the irrevocable events in motion that make up the story.

If you enjoy books with twisted characters that you can dissect, you will absolutely love Adora.  Like everyone around her, at the beginning, the reader is taken in by her beauty and charm.  From the beginning, there are hints that something isn’t quite right; the creeptastic way that Adora talks about Sebastian, for example.  It’s clear that her feelings for him aren’t exactly part of the normal brother-sister relationship.  As the novel progresses, the reader begins to see how Adora destroys everything around her.  But then, there are times when it seems like people around Adora ascribe these motives towards her, rather than her actually doing anything wrong.  She’s a fascinatingly repulsive woman and Samantha Bruce-Benjamin wrote her very well.

The Art of Devotion isn’t a mystery, but it takes the reader on twists and turns as they try to figure out what is going on just beneath the surface.  From the beginning, it’s clear that something isn’t right, that there is a façade of beauty hiding dark and ugly secrets.  While the book can be slow at times, Bruce-Benjamin definitely keeps the reader interested from beginning to end.  However, the reader never really does develop an affinity with any of the characters.  Interest and fascination, yes, but never a deep connection or sympathy, which may turn some readers off.

Reading The Art of Devotion made me want to go and explore psychological thrillers more fully.  While I’m not sure that this book can qualify as a thriller, it is definitely psychological.  From Adora’s destructive personality to the secrets lying in wait, the novel is a journey into the mind, one that Bruce-Benjamin accomplishes well.  For those who like dissecting characters and analyzing their motives, this is a book you should definitely consider.

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Comments

  1. ooh. This is totally new to me and sounds like a good read — the psychological aspects, the multiple view points, and the Mediterranean setting. All that makes me think I’d like this book.

  2. ooh. This is totally new to me and sounds like a good read — the psychological aspects, the multiple view points, and the Mediterranean setting. All that makes me think I’d like this book.

  3. This sounds like such an interesting book. I will definitely have to pick it up as this type of book always interests me. What a great review!

  4. This sounds like such an interesting book. I will definitely have to pick it up as this type of book always interests me. What a great review!

  5. I love psychological thrillers and the more twisted the characters, the better! This sounds good to me.

  6. I love psychological thrillers and the more twisted the characters, the better! This sounds good to me.

  7. Hmmm, this book certainly does sound intriguing! Absolutely beautiful cover! I may have to check it out.

  8. Hmmm, this book certainly does sound intriguing! Absolutely beautiful cover! I may have to check it out.

  9. You certainly liked this one more than I did! I think it’s interesting you don’t mention the time the novel is set in. One of my biggest complaints about the novel was its lack of historical details despite the historical setting. I’m glad to see you liked it more than I did, and I am a little curious to see what Bruce-Benjamin does next.

  10. You certainly liked this one more than I did! I think it’s interesting you don’t mention the time the novel is set in. One of my biggest complaints about the novel was its lack of historical details despite the historical setting. I’m glad to see you liked it more than I did, and I am a little curious to see what Bruce-Benjamin does next.

  11. This sounds a thrilling and a very good story as well. Thanks for the review.

  12. This sounds a thrilling and a very good story as well. Thanks for the review.

  13. nomadreader – You’re definitely right, the historical details were definitely lacking. When I was reading, I had to keep reminding myself it wasn’t set in the present!

  14. nomadreader – You’re definitely right, the historical details were definitely lacking. When I was reading, I had to keep reminding myself it wasn’t set in the present!

  15. Ok, you have made this book sound too irresistible for me to ignore. I love psychologically twisted books, and it sounds like this book has all that I am looking for in spades. Thanks for a very enticing review. I am off to see if I can find this!

  16. Ok, you have made this book sound too irresistible for me to ignore. I love psychologically twisted books, and it sounds like this book has all that I am looking for in spades. Thanks for a very enticing review. I am off to see if I can find this!

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