Thank you to Wednesday Books for providing me with this information!
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.
Thank you to NetGalley for the early copy of Mayhem, and to Wednesday Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour! I had gotten an email recommending that I read the novel, and after I saw the blurb about it being The Lost Boys meets The Craft, I was so IN. Being raised by my mom who was a total 80s girl gave me a love of a lot of media from the time, but none so much as anything that had to do with supernatural happenstances or magic. These tales made the world feel much bigger, more exciting, and like anything could happen in our own reality. This book had the exact same vibe as we followed Mayhem on her journey to discover herself in a society that is desperate to keep her, and those like her, down. It is amazing to watch her metamorphosis from a demure, hopeless teenager to a vibrant and self-assured woman who is done watching and waiting for life to get better. She takes her own existence by the horns within these pages, and by the end she is riding astride it.
Mayhem is born to a mother, Roxy, from an infamous family in California. Due to reasons beyond her ken, Roxy stole them away one night after May’s father’s passing, leaving the comforts of home and ending up in the arms of a southern gentleman, or so he seemed. Years go by, and Mayhem endures much suffering in Taylor, Texas. She never feels as though she fits in, and she sees her mother beaten again and again by her abusive step-father. Finally, it goes too far, and the two women take off again, but this time they return back home. Roxy’s twin sister has kept up the family home and taken in foster kids that feel like her own. She welcomes the runaways in with a full and gracious heart. Mayhem is desperate to mesh in her new surroundings, and so she finds a place within the circle of Neve, Jason, and Kidd, and despite Roxy and Elle’s warnings, the four of them careen to the point of no return.
These kids that Elle has taken under her wing have found out the secret of the Brayburns, and share it with Mayhem. There is a kind of magic that has always been awaiting her in her veins, and once she unleashes it, she can see herself and everyone else with clear eyes. This sight threatens to fracture her relationship with her mother, but ends up saving them both. It also comes with a heavy responsibility; for years Brayburn women have used it to rid the earth of evil, and it’s something that Mayhem must come to terms with, along with the fact that the power is an addiction, and it’s one that is eating her friends alive. Our protagonist navigates these waters with the skill of a newborn sea turtle–instinctively and like it was what she was born to do. She has always had the strength within her, and it has been waiting for her to wake up.
I love this book not only for the supernatural elements, but that in spite of this, it is a book about finding your power and unleashing it. It is an anthem to all the women who have been silenced by society, men, themselves– and how far we have come even in four or so decades. It is a plea to know that sometimes you don’t have control over the things that happen to you. Everything that happens in your life is for a reason, even if it seems like complete chaos. There does come a point, however, where you have to choose to be complacent or if you want your voice to be heard, and Mayhem’s story makes you want to yell from the rooftops. It reminds you to treasure your friends, the people by your side that push you and help you to grow, and love your family fiercely, but to remember to turn those things on yourself as well. Listen to the whisper from the sea that there IS magic in the world if you know where to look, and some of it is there, waiting for you when you peer in the mirror. Give this novel a try if you’re feeling less than or out of sorts. It will bring you back to your body with renewed purpose.
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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.
Words by the Author and Surprise Sneak Peek:
Please enjoy a preface to the content of this riveting release as well as a look at the beginning of the novel!