Undeniably Charismatic and Thrilling | Review: Mayhem by Estelle Laure

6:30 AM

Estelle Laure's Mayhem had my attention at 'feminist YA', 'beach-gothic' and its comparison to The Craft. (Also, how beautiful is that cover?) I was like, yes, sold, 100%, sign me up. IMMEDIATELY.

by Estelle Laure

A YA feminist mash up inspired by The Lost Boys and The Craft.

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 a family of women contending with what appears to be an irreversible destiny, taking control and saying when enough is enough.

Mayhem by Estelle Laure
Rating: ★★★

As always, a copy of this book was provided by the author or publisher in exchange for my honest review. This does not effect my opinion in any way.    
Mayhem had a lot going on for it. Namely, Estelle Laure's charismatic prose that was somehow both subtle and enthralling. It also has this electrically charged concept as a mash-up of The Lost Boys and The Craft. (Which is promising, for obvious reasons.) The bad news is that it also had some negatives going on with the storytelling that just... didn't work for me.

For me, the biggest issue was simple and exactly what other's have already been quoted saying in the few reviews available: there were A LOT of similarities between this book and the source material it was inspired by. It felt a bit too familiar, one could say. While I'm all for retellings, there's a lot that should have been reassessed and turned into something all its own.

Before starting Mayhem, I figured I'd get acquainted with The Lost Boys. (Yes, I'm one of the few who had never seen the classic film. Feel free to shake your fists at me and scold away.) And then get reacquainted with The Craft. (Which probably wasn't necessary, as it's a favourite and I pretty much have it memorized.) So, the films were fresh in my mind when I picked up Mayhem--but I think this made the novel less enjoyable for me in the end.

Which is on me. And it is more than a little frustrating because Mayhem was promising beyond its source material. Look, I'm not saying that Mayhem was an exactly, scene for scene parallel, of either film, but when it was familiar it was too familiar if you know what I mean. That being said, Laure's writing is STUNNING and made the storyline all the more captivating for me.

If Mayhem had been by any other author, I don't think that I would have finished it. While it wasn't my favourite of the year, it did have several qualities to it that made it bloody enjoyable and its sheer viciousness alone made it so intriguing. There's this mysterious quality to Laure's writing that feels adequately chilling and Mayhem is exactly that: chilling. If you are unfamiliar with the film it is inspired by, I think readers will find that they've enjoyed this novel immensely more than I did.

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