Book Review: Mayhem by Estelle Laure (ALC)

Mayhem

Author: Estelle Laure

Narrator: Chloe Cannon

Publication Date: 14 July 2020

Genre: YA – Historical Fiction/Fantasy

Length: 8 hours and 25 minutes

Publisher: Macmillan Audio

A YA feminist mash up inspired by The Lost Boys and The Craft.

It’s 1987 and unfortunately it’s not all Madonna and cherry lip balm. Mayhem Brayburn has always known there was something off about her and her mother, Roxy. Maybe it has to do with Roxy’s constant physical pain, or maybe with Mayhem’s own irresistible pull to water. Either way, she knows they aren’t like everyone else.

But when May’s stepfather finally goes too far, Roxy and Mayhem flee to Santa Maria, California, the coastal beach town that holds the answers to all of Mayhem’s questions about who her mother is, her estranged family, and the mysteries of her own self. There she meets the kids who live with her aunt, and it opens the door to the magic that runs through the female lineage in her family, the very magic Mayhem is next in line to inherit and which will change her life for good.

But when she gets wrapped up in the search for the man who has been kidnapping girls from the beach, her life takes another dangerous turn and she is forced to face the price of vigilante justice and to ask herself whether revenge is worth the cost.

From the acclaimed author of This Raging Light and But Then I Came Back, Estelle Laure offers a riveting and complex story with magical elements about a family of women contending with what appears to be an irreversible destiny, taking control and saying when enough is enough.

I feel like I am always sucked into books because of the marketing line: “this is a mashup of these two things”. Not gonna lie, I saw The Craft, and I couldn’t scramble fast enough to get my hands on a copy of this book. I should know by now that those blurbs rarely work up, but I was definitely wishful thinking.

This story takes place in 1987. Mayhem ‘May’ and Roxy Brayburn are much closer than what you’d typically find when it comes to mother-daughter relationships. Mayhem knows her and her mom are different but can’t pinpoint why. Mayhem’s stepfather is a true POS. He regularly beats Roxy and forces Mayhem and Roxy to live in constant fear. Mayhem and Roxy finally get the courage to flee to Santa Maria, CA, which is where Roxy grew up. Mayhem thinks this will finally be the new beginning they need, but Roxy is frightened of Santa Maria and is starting to keep secrets from Mayhem.

I’ll start with what I enjoyed first. The first half of the book really pulled me in. I was angry and frustrated for Mayhem and the abuse that she was forced to endure under the roof of her stepfather. I completely understood her desire for revenge. The emotions from both Mayhem and Roxy were raw and gritty. It was clear that their bond arose from that of abuse survivors. The author did an amazing job of handling this topic with honesty and grace.

Once we got to Santa Maria, Roxy sinks into drugs in order to cope with her situation while Mayhem finds herself amongst the other kids that live with her aunt. Mayhem quickly realizes that all isn’t right in Santa Maria since young females keep showing up dead. The kids teach Mayhem the secrets of the Brayburn lineage as well as invite her to investigate these cold cases. In doing so, Mayhem learns a few secrets about herself and Roxy. I enjoyed the murder mystery aspect as well as Mayhem learning more about the Brayburn lineage.

Alright, I’ll be honest, if I was a diehard The Lost Boys fan, I would be severely let down by this book because of the sheer amount of references that are directly from the movie. I understand that authors will use media for creative inspiration, but when you use the same characters and even some of the same lines, we start to walk a fine line of originality.

Overall, I do think that this is a good read and has a lot to offer young readers especially when it comes to abuse and coming of age stories. I would’ve liked to see fewer The Lost Boys references, but that’s just my preference.

Thank you to Macmillan Audio for providing an advanced listening copy for review. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

6 comments

  1. Oh I was really excited for this one especially since I’ve got a copy of this for review as well. I’m sorry the second half of the book let you down. I have to keep that in mind when I read this one soon. Great review! 💓

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