Title: The Art of Devotion
Author: Samantha Bruce-Benjamin
Release Date: June 8, 2010
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Amazon Vine
Rating: 4 out of 5
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.
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.