I love when you hear about a book and you know you just need to get your hands on it! This was me when I heard about Mayhem by Estelle Laure. Mayhem releases next week (July 14th), but today I’m participating in the blog tour. If you keep on reading, I’ll tell you what I thought about this book and you can read a short interview with Estelle Laure.
A big thanks to the author and Wednesday Books for providing me with an ARC on Netgalley to read and review.
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.
Buy this book: https://wednesdaybooks.com/galaxies-and-kingdom/mayhem/
When I saw that Mayhem would be a feminist mix of The Lost Boys and The Craft, I was so curious. Those are both things I can appreciate and I was curious how they would come to life in this story. Mayhem didn’t disappoint. Estelle’s writing sucked me into the story and made me feel like I was right there with Mayhem. A fast and interesting read that was a bit darker at times.
Our main character Mayhem and her mother Roxy go back to her mother’s past home to escape an abusive relationship. It’s clear that these two are all the other has and it can be complicated at times. While being with her mother’s twin sister, Mayhem learns that there is a lot about her family she didn’t know. Mayhem was a character that I really loved. Her life was anything but easy and she’s just trying to figure out where she belongs and how to make sure her mother doesn’t end up back with her abusive husband. Mayhem is strong and how she behaves in this book proves that in more way than one.
Mayhem is dark story that touches things such as abuse, rape, suicide and murder. I feel that she was careful with these subjects and yes it definitely added a darker element to the story. I do think that these elements fit the story this case and the author handled them well. The darker elements, magic and the eighties vibes created a really interesting world to read about.
In this story there’s a serial killer and Mayhem and her aunt’s children start investigating this, using the magic that they have. This was definitely an interesting element in the story. Not only the fact girls keep going missing, but also the magical element. I felt it was really unique and didn’t seem like anything I’ve ever read about before. In a way that’s the only thing that lacked for me a tiny bit. I would’ve loved to have understood the magic just a little sooner. It was the only thing I felt I was missing while reading this story. The diary entries Mayhem reads that does explain some of their family history were interesting and such a nice touch.
Mayhem also has an interesting group of characters. I don’t want to say too much though, because I do feel that you need to read about them yourself to get the full experience. Also, there is a hint of romance in this book, but I loved the fact that it wasn’t the main focus of this story. It was a nice change to see a book that wasn’t really romance heavy. Estelle Laure gave us an interesting story and I’m looking forward to seeing what she does next!
I was so excited to get to ask Estelle Laure some questions. Here are the few questions I asked her and her answers.
What inspired you to start writing?
When I was very little I wrote stories called “The Happy Family” that were all about a mom and a dad and a stable house with a fence, etc. They were very bad and nothing happened except maybe someone ate a sandwich or went to the park. That’s what I wished for at the time. I was about six or seven when I wrote them. I wrote some in college, but it really started when I had just had my son and I got an idea for a story, which turned out to be my first book This Raging Light. It’s been a long and winding road, but when I look back, books have always been the center of my universe and my only regret is that it took me so long to figure it out!
What has been your favorite part of the publishing journey?
Publishing is a total roller coaster and at first I hated that and was as uncomfortable with the highs as the lows. Now I absolutely love every single second of it, from creation to editorial meetings, to marketing, to talking to readers…everything. It’s a total joy even on bad writing days. The thing that stands out the very most is the moment you get to see the cover. That’s when you know the book is real, it’s happening, and now it’s in the hands of super talented people who are going to make it complete.
What is your favorite quote from Mayhem?
“How do I tell her I don’t want to be innocent anymore? Innocents get hit. I want to hit back.”
When you wrote Mayhem did you have it all mapped out or did you let Mayhem take you along for the ride?
I always think I have it mapped out and then at some point figure out I know nothing. That’s a tough moment but is also when the magic happens. It’s a very different story from where it started and is the unruliest book I’ve ever written. In the end I can only be grateful for whatever kind of magic that is.
Describe your book in five words or less.
Fun, thrilling, fast-paced, emotional vindication.
Mayhem isn’t always an easy book to read and there are a lot of difficult subjects talked about. Estelle Laure wrote a note for in the beginning of the book and I want to share that with you here today.
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.
About the Author
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.
Mayhem was my first book by Estelle Laure, but this will have to change in the near future. This book is so unique, but also very special. I can definitely understand that it may not be for all readers, so please be advised! I’ll definitely be adding Mayhem to my shelf when it releases next week!