Hey all, Dani here.
I want to wish a very happy book birthday to author Estelle Laure for the release of her newest novel, Mayhem. Today I’m here as part of the blog tour for this book’s release, so I just want to say thank you to Wednesday Books for letting me be a part of this, and for granting me early access to this book through NetGalley.
As with all of my reads through NetGalley, receiving an early digital copy of this book did not affect my rating or review in any way.
First, before I jump into the book details and my review and all of that, there is a letter from the author at the beginning of the book, and I figured I would also add it into this post. I do this because this book does deal with some topics that could be triggering to some readers.
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.
Okay, now with all of that out of the way, it’s time to jump into the review.
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: July 14, 2020
ISBN: 1250297931 (ISBN13: 9781250297938)
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.
Rating: 4 stars
Okay, so a lot of the early buzz for this book pitched it as being for fans of “The Craft” and “The Lost Boys.” I’ll be completely honest guys…I legitimately do not think I have seen either. Yesterday I saw it pitched as something for fans of “The Secret Circle,” and okay, I have read/watched that. I would also say that this book gives me some “Practical Magic” vibes as well.
There were some parts of this story that were extremely riveting, but then there were other times where I found it a tad dull. I did like the hints of magic for a while, and the eerie vibes that came with all the mystery and secrecy and such.
The dynamic between Mayhem and Roxy was an interesting one, and most of the time May seemed to be the parent more than her mom, who she actually does call Roxy instead of mom about 90% of the time–was that normal in the ’80s? I wouldn’t exactly know since I was born in ’88.
Anyway, this was a simpler time in a lot of ways, since there is no social media, no dependence on cell phones or other technology, etc.
Oh, so the reason why this book made me think of “Practical Magic” was not just because of the power/magic passed through the females of the family line, but also because of the history of pretty much doomed romance throughout. All they Brayburn women are destined to have one love, and as we learn more about Mayhem’s family, it seems like her grandmother and great-grandmother and on up the family tree all come to the same fate…they die after losing their love.
We see a lot of different female and family relationships in this one: sisters, mother-daughter, aunt-niece, adopted family, female friendships, females interested in other females, etc. It was pretty cool.
Honestly though I think my favorite character was either Elle or Kidd. Though Mayhem was still a pretty cool character. After all, she’s the character who is there to introduce us to the magic and the family legacy, and the character we use to question morality and vigilantism and consequences of choices and actions.
This was not a bad story, at all. I do think that some of it could have been fleshed out more, and some of it was a bit predictable, and I mentioned the occasional dull bits earlier, but otherwise it was a pretty worthwhile read.