Madeline Stevens’ debut novel Devotion is a page-turner. This psychological thriller has all the ingredients to create a tense situation rife with obsession, jealousy, lust, and betrayal ... What is certain is this, the writing is sharp and occasionally witty in Devotion, and each word demands to be devoured as the pages are turned steadily until the end. And then it demands thought. It will be interesting to see what Madeline Stevens produces next.
Novels about toxic female friendships have certainly been making the rounds lately, but Devotion pushes into territory that’s rarely covered and does so with such subtlety that I fear readers might not even consider what happened in it a crime ... the ambiguity of Devotion, however, reflects the prevailing attitude of far too much of our own modern society towards what takes place within its pages. It’s a thought-provoking novel, for sure, with rich, literary prose, and I’m hoping it helps expand the conversation on womanhood and consent, especially in the raised awareness of this #MeToo era.
In what could be described as The Nanny Diaries meets Single White Female, Stevens’ debut introduces readers to the sometimes glittering, sometimes gritty underbelly of New York City childcare ... [Ella's and Lonnie's] kinship is doomed from the start, only growing more suspenseful and unhinged as the story unfolds; every turn of the page will leave readers wondering which woman will snap first. Perfect for fans of Stephanie Danler’s Sweetbitter (2016).
With each character unstable and unreliable, Stevens’ debut novel shimmers with tension ... What everyone in this novel wants is both crystal clear—money, power, attention—and deliciously obscure ... Stevens delicately pulls the threads together, ever so slowly, until a fateful night strangles any possibility of changing the course of anyone’s fate ... A darkly glittering jewel from a promising new voice in thrillers.
...[an] intriguing yet uneven debut ... The tension is reduced by revealing Lonnie’s disappearance up front, but Stevens meticulously elevates the mundane days of a nanny by injecting Ella’s life with her all-consuming adoration for Lonnie. This debut makes for a stimulating character study.