When I saw that Mayhem by Estelle Laure was billed as a “supernatural feminist YA novel” I was immediately intrigued. It sounded like the type of book that I would love, and while the story was good, I ended up feeling like it would have made a better movie than a book (Gasp! I know!). In my defense, the author said they were inspired by the movie The Lost Boys (which I haven’t seen, so I can’t confirm or deny any similarities here).
Mayhem follows the story of Mayhem Brayburn, who moves with her mom, Roxy, back to their hometown of Santa Maria. They’re staying with family while fleeing from Mayhem’s abusive stepfather, and are trying to restart their lives. However, we quickly learn about the Brayburn family secrets, and see why Roxy left home in the first place.
There are numerous content warnings readers should be aware of for this book, including suicide, domestic violence, rape, and drug use.
While spending time with her adoptive cousins, Mayhem slowly learns about her family’s supernatural traditions and finds herself caught up in situations that her mom wanted to run far away from. Honestly, I don’t blame her, because some of the situations are incredibly scary and dangerous. I can’t say too much without giving the plot away, but I found myself wanting more from the story. It seemed like some details were left out, and I was frustrated with the lack of explanation.
Sometimes this works for me, especially with speculative fiction, but in this book it just felt off. At times the plot seemed to be a bit rushed, and I felt more confused than anything. However, it was still entertaining, and put a weird, eerie spin on the story. It’s not the type of thematic setting you’d expect from a book set in a beach town during the summer.
I really appreciated the themes included in this book. Discussing domestic abuse isn’t easy, but the author presented it in a very real, raw way. It’s not a fun or easy topic to include, but it was realistic, and showed the issues that that both Mayhem and her mom were struggling with.
If you’re looking for a quick, suspenseful read with a hint of magic, filled with family secrets and feminist themes, be sure to check out Mayhem.
Thank you to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press for an electronic copy of this book via NetGalley, and for including me in the blog tour. Mayhem comes out on July 14, 2020 and can be purchased wherever books are sold.