Mayhem by Estelle Laure
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: July 14, 2020
Book Summary: The Lost Boys meets Wilder Girls in this supernatural feminist YA novel.
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.
Book Review: When Mayhem’s stepfather abusively crosses the line, she and her mother Roxy escape to her hometown of Santa Monica, California. After running away many years ago, Roxy is now back to the one place she never wanted to see again. Roxy’s sister and foster kids introduce Mayhem to the shadowy world shielded from her since birth. The revelation of supernatural family secrets and the search for a deadly kidnapper will lead Mayhem to dangerous territory. How will she make sense of all these unexplained events and handle the truth behind her calling?
MAYHEM is an appealing 80’s themed novel that accurately tackles domestic abuse and showcases a revamped version of The Lost Boys. Estelle did a remarkable job in depicting parts of the cult classic, The Lost Boys, while giving the narrative a feministic flair. Mayhem was an empathetic character that longed to be accepted by her peers. I appreciated her protective stance with Roxy and the ability to adapt to new situations. If the roles were reversed, I don’t think I’d be able to withstand the changes as smoothly.
The foster kids were another aspect of the novel that brought an exciting element to the mix. Each personality shined with significantly different traits. By far, Jason was my favorite; there is something about a quiet, guarded persona that pulls me right in.
All in all, I thought MAYHEM was an easy read that flowed naturally with a suspenseful undertone. My only criticism is that the scenes surrounding the murderer on the loose felt a bit rushed. Ideally, I would have liked this part of the novel to have extended just a bit longer. Besides that, I thought it was a fun Summer read, and I’m looking forward to reading more books by Estelle!
Content Warning: Light moments of domestic abuse, rape, and discussed suicide.
Thank you Wednesday Books for including me in this blog tour and providing me a gifted copy of Mayhem for review.
!! Check out my Bookstagram post here !!
About The Author:
Estelle Laure, the author of This Raging Light and But Then I Came Back believes in love, magic, and the power of facing hard truths. She has a BA in Theatre Arts and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and she lives in Taos, New Mexico, with her family. Her work is translated widely around the world.
A Note from Estelle:
Like Mayhem, I experienced a period of time when my life was extremely unstable. I can still remember what it was like to be shaken so hard I thought my head would come off, to watch the room vibrate, to feel unsafe in my own home, to never know what was coming around the next corner. I wanted to run. I always wanted to run. I ran to friends, but also movies and books, and although girls were more passively portrayed in movies like The Lost Boys back then, that feeling of teenagers prowling the night, taking out bad people, being unbeatable . . . that got me through it. I guess that’s what I tried to do here.
I wanted girls who feel powerless to be able to imagine themselves invincible. And yes, I used a rape as the seed for that fierce lineage, not without thought. For me, there is nothing worse, and I like to think great power can rise up as a result of a devastating trespass. Please know I took none of this lightly. Writing this now, my heart is beating hard and my throat is dry. This is the first time I not only really looked at my own past, the pain of loss, the pain of the loss of trust that comes when someone puts hands on you without permission, the pain of people dying, the shock of suicide, and put all of it to paper in a way that made me feel victorious, strong, and warrior-like. It is also terrifying.
I know I’m not the only one who had a scary childhood, and I know I’m not the only one who clings to stories as salve to smooth over burnt skin. I am so sick of girls and women being hurt. This was my way of taking my own vengeance and trying to access forgiveness. Thank you for reading and for those of you who can relate, I see you and you are not alone.