Today I am bringing you my review as part of the blog tour on its publication day for Mayhem by Estelle Laure, published by Wednesday Books.
Mayhem by Estelle Laure
Release Date: 14th of July 2020
Format: Kindle Edition
Print Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Wednesday Books
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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.
Mayhem is an intriguing, unique and complex coming of age story. Told against the backdrop of the 80’s, one of the most iconic decades, Estelle has crafted a plot that is dark and deals with the tough issues of domestic abuse, rape, suicide and drug use, which may be a trigger for some readers.
While the story is a slow burn to start with, it does gain momentum throughout. The messages conveyed in this tale and the emotions that it evokes makes for a very gripping and compelling read. Aimed at a YA audience, this 43 year old took it all in her stride and I can say it is a story that will appeal to both young and still youngish…(Thank you very much!)
As well as the themes I mentioned at the beginning of this review, it also covers, family dynamics, romance, teen angst, magic, murder, paranormal and the supernatural. When you add these elements to the other themes, it may seem overwhelming, but I didn’t find this the case at all and enjoyed the diversity they all added to the tale.
The characters are all very well rounded and developed but it goes without saying that the titled character Mayhem was definitely the standout of the story. She has been created with so much depth, is very believable and I am sure that the teens of the same age reading this book will be able to resonate with her in some way.
I absolutely loved the 80’s setting of this story and it took me back to my own childhood and a more simpler time. The Lost Boys (my all time favourite movie) references were spot on and I enjoyed Estelle’s own spin on the tale. Peppered also throughout with magic and fantasy, think more Practical Magic than The Craft, gives the story a more gentler balance to the tougher issues that are explored.
This is my first book by Estelle and I think she has done a great job with this story. She handles the tough issues with sensitivity, but does not sugar coat the seriousness of them. Her writing is captivating, lyrical and is very well suited to this type of story and I will definitely be reading more books from her in the future.
Thank you to NetGalley, Wednesday Books, St Martins Press, Sarah Bonamino and Estelle Laure for allowing me to read an advanced copy of Mayhem which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.
This review will be added to, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Amazon Australia & Amazon US. I will also add to NetGalley, Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play, Barnes & Noble & Waterstones if available. As I am from Australia, I am unable to add to Amazon UK.
Letter 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 TheLost Boysback 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.
Lets Get to Know Estelle
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.Stay up to date with Estelle’s work by signing up to the mailing list on her website and by following her on these social media accounts.
Stay up to date with releases from Wednesday Books by following them on these social media accounts.