Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: July 14th, 2020
Synopsis: 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 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 of 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.
The premise for Mayhem checked all my boxes. It’s set in 1987 (the eighties is my favorite decade), and it’s described as a combination of The Craft, and Lost Boys. As soon as I read that, I just knew I had to get my greedy little fingers on it. As I made my way through the first half of the book though, I grew increasingly uncomfortable with how much it directly lifts from The Lost Boys, without adding anything new. I mean, the Frog brothers, and Sax Man, are included. Even grandpa’s quote: “One thing living in Santa Carla I never could stomach, all the damn vampires” makes its way in, except the setting is changed to Santa Maria. The cave’s description sounds exactly like the vampire’s nest in the movie, and the characters start out eerily similar. But after I reached the halfway point, the story seemed to find a little of its own footing. I wound up liking the story behind the Brayburn legacy, and the characters grew on me. I particularly like the way the mother-daughter relationship progresses, as Roxy begins to recover, Mayhem is able to get out of the unhealthy caretaker role she’s trapped in. In the end I’ve settled on a neutral rating of 3 stars. I’m almost positive there’s going to be a sequel, so I’m curious as to where Laure takes this.